MTD IN THE NEWS | March 29, 2023

SMART General President and MTD Executive Vice President Sellers Announces Retirement

Joseph Sellers, Jr., General President of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART), announced his retirement on January 24, 2023. Sellers will retire on May 31, 2023, and will be succeeded by current Assistant to the General President Michael Coleman.

“The Metal Trades Department wishes General President Sellers a long and happy retirement. We look forward to working with Michael Coleman to continue our work to improve the lives of the men and women represented by Metal Trades Councils across North America,” said Metal Trades President Jimmy Hart.

Sellers – a second-generation sheet metal worker whose father spent 55 years as a SMART member and 30 years as a local union officer – often asserts that “all that my family has comes from my father’s career path and the union sheet metal industry.” Sellers devoted more than four decades to his union, committing himself to lead at every level of SMART. He began his apprenticeship in 1980 at Local 19 in Philadelphia, becoming a journeyperson four years later. He was elected to the local’s executive board in 1994 and appointed to be training coordinator in 1996. In 2002, after serving as a business representative for two years, he became Local 19’s president and business manager. 

Sellers was elected to international leadership as 11th general vice president in August 2009. The SMART General Executive Council elected him to serve as the union’s General Secretary-Treasurer (GST) in July 2011, and he was unanimously re-elected as GST by delegates to the first SMART General Convention in August 2014. Sellers became SMART’s General President on May 1, 2015, when his friend and mentor General President Joe Nigro needed to retire. He was re-elected on August 14, 2019. 

Incoming General President Michael Coleman, a SMART member since 1985, has also served at every level of the union: from president and business manager of Local 33 in Northern Ohio, to ninth general vice president, to SMART director of business and management relations, to his current post as assistant to the General President. He will assume the position of SMART General President on June 1, 2023.

We’ve Moved — The Metal Trades Department has New Digs

We are pleased to announce that effective immediately, the Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO, has moved to new 5th floor office space in the AFL-CIO headquarters. Our new office is adjacent to and connected to the Walter Reuther Conference Room.

The Department main telephone and email addresses remain unchanged.

Should you encounter any difficulties in contacting us via email and land-lines, please contact the Departments Director of Operations Lisa Johnson via mobile phone: 301-752-8411.

Navy Announces New Naval Air Forces and NAVSEA Commanders

Rear Adm. Dan “Undra” Cheever, left, will become the next commander of Naval Air Forces. Rear Adm. James P. Downey, right, will become the next commander of Naval Sea Systems Command. (Navy)

The U.S. Navy announced last week that Rear Admiral James P. Downey will serve as the next commander of the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC. Downey replaces Vice Admiral William Galinis who became NAVSEA commander in 2020.

Rear Adm. James Downey is a native of New York.  He is a 1986 graduate of the State University of New York, Albany, New York with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Computer Science.  He was commissioned in 1987 and is a 1997 graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California with a Master of Science in Computer Science followed by Engineering Duty Officer (EDO) School in Port Hueneme, California, where he graduated with distinction and received the Founder’s Award.

He qualified as a surface warfare officer aboard USS Hayler (DD 997) in 1989.  Additional operational assignments include intelligence briefing officer to the Commander in Chief, Combined Forces Command, U.S. Forces Korea , Seoul, Korea; and multiple deployments afloat in the North Atlantic, Baltic, Arctic Circle, and Pacific.

Engineering duty officer assignments include assistant program manager for surface and subsurface integration for GPS and Navigation Sensor System Interface programs, leading Tomahawk integration; chief engineer for high assurance systems at the Defense Information Systems Agency and National Security Agency; officer in charge of Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command , Yokosuka, Japan; CVN 21 program chief engineer, principal assistant program manager , and warfare systems director; CG(X) major program manager; and major program manager for the DDG 1000 program including delivery of the first ship of the class.

His first flag assignment was commander, Navy Regional Maintenance Center during which time he also served as Naval Sea Systems Command’s deputy commander for surface warfare.  He assumed duties as program executive officer, Aircraft Carriers in June 2019.

Downey’s awards include the Legion of Merit (two awards), the Defense Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), the Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), and various other personal, unit, and service awards.

Rear Admiral Dan Cheever to Command Naval Air Forces

Rear Adm. Dan “Undra” Cheever will become the next commander of Naval Air Forces.

Cheever, who joined the Navy in 1988, is replacing Vice Adm. Kenneth Whitesell, who has served as the so-called “Airboss” since 2020. Cheever will also become the commander of Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, and be promoted to vice admiral.

He now serves as chief of staff for North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, and previously served as commander of Carrier Strike Group 4.

Cheever also served as the commander of the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center in Fallon, Nevada, from 2017 to 2019. Additionally, he was a flight instructor at the Navy Fighter Weapons School in Miramar, California, and the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center in Fallon, Nevada, from 1995 to 1998.

What We’re Reading

  • Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire commemoration in Manhattan — Dozens gathered ahead of the 112th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire to commemorate the 146 lives lost on March 25, 1911. Mainly immigrant women and girls, the workers were locked inside the factory when a vicious fire broke out, and were left to make a horrific decision: stay in the burning factory, or jump 10 stories. Their sacrifice ultimately led to a union movement that fought for better regulations for workers and fire safety precautions in workspaces. See the photos of the tribute from March 24, 2023, hosted by the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

There’s Still Time to Tell Congress to Support the PRO Act

The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act restores the right of workers to freely and fairly form a union and bargain together for changes in the workplace. It is a landmark worker empowerment, civil rights and economic stimulus legislation, and an essential part of any plan to build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic and recession.