A New Ramp for a Member in Need
In an instant, Steve Spatocco’s entire world changed. The Local 19 second-year apprentice went from being an active, fit young tradesman to suffering a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the neck down.
Steve’s Local 19 brothers and sisters have rallied to help since his August 2019 accident. His union-backed health benefits have provided the financial security and support necessary to allow him to concentrate on his ongoing recovery, and our members have been dedicated to using our time and skills to help at every step of his recovery.
In early 2021, the union designed and installed a ramp at Steve’s house to help him get in and out easier. Training Coordinator Joe Frick came out and sketched the design, and Local 19 apprentices volunteered to assemble it.
“It was a fun time for me, too – I sat out with the apprentices while they did it,” Steve said of the ramp. “Knowing they have my back, no matter what, is crazy.”
Before the ramp, Steve’s mom or girlfriend would have to lift his wheelchair up the steps of the house. Now, Steve has a ramp crafted by his union family to roll inside, making the process much easier for him and his family.
Steve now does outpatient occupational and physical therapy multiple times a week. With hard work, he’s now able to stand, take limited steps, and raise items above his head.
“Physical therapy definitely helps things come back. All those visits help,” Steve said. “Without my union insurance, I don’t think I would’ve gotten halfway to where I am now.”
In his free time, Steve is dabbling in AutoCAD, attending union meetings, and aiming to get his driver’s license by the end of the year. His family will also be hosting a benefit for him right at the Local 19 union hall in October.
“(It) takes a weight off your shoulders – financially, emotionally,” Steve said of the support he’s gotten from his union and his fellow Local 19 members. “All I have to focus on is continuing to get better…they have everything else taken care of.”
A GoFundMe page exists to raise money to help Steve with his recovery.
Some of the apprentices who helped install the ramp.
Steve said he was glad to spend time with the apprentices setting up the ramp.
Local 19 and Nova Industrial Arts Donate Scoreboard to New Jersey High School
The work our members and our movement do goes far beyond the job site, from monetary donations to community service jobs that put our members’ skills to good use. This year, Local 19 and our contractor partners at Nova Industrial Arts were proud to donate a new scoreboard to Washington Township High School. After delays due to COVID-19, the sign was finally able to be put up at the end of the 2021 school year.
The boys’ lacrosse team, youth football and soccer teams, and other local community groups utilize the same astroturf field at the high school, but the field was missing a scoreboard for games. The boys’ lacrosse booster club had been discussing getting a scoreboard for varsity games for years; portable signs are unreliable and small, and the students wanted a chance to be able to play games on their home field. Local 19 Organizer Bob Gadsby heard about the problem through his stepson, a starting attackman on the team. He knew our membership would be eager to help out and set the wheels in motion to make a donation.
“The scoreboard will make a tremendous impact not just to our program but all the organizations in Washington Township that use the field,” said Josh Hanlon, business teacher and lacrosse coach with Washington Township High School.
Local 19, along with the Nova Industrial Arts, installed the scoreboard, and Washington Township Electricians provided the electrical connections. Washington Township Municipal Public Works Department assisted with the site mark out. Local 19 was proud to join these organizations in this group effort to better the school.
“Many of our students pursue careers in the trades and SMW Local 19 sets a good example for our students to see the valuable work they provide to communities across the region,” said Kevin Murphy, Director of Athletics, Washington Township Public Schools.
After a hard year for students across our region, we’re happy to use our skills and time to donate something that will brighten the days of local students and the community.
Local 19 Wins Big at Mid-Atlantic Apprentice Competition
The 2021 Mid-Atlantic Apprentice Competition was hosted by Local 19 at the Central Pennsylvania training center. This year’s contest included contestants from Local 12 (Pittsburgh), Local 19 (Philadelphia), Local 19 (Central PA), Local 44 (Wilkes-Barre), Local 22 (Central NJ), Local 27 (Southern NJ), Local 100 (Washington, DC), and Local 112 (Elmira, NY). Contestants competed in the following categories: 2nd year, 3rd year, 4th year, 5th year, and a group competition.
This year’s event was different than in years past. It included a 5th year competition to make up for the missed 2020 competition, allowing 5th year apprentices or 1st year journeymen who missed the competition the opportunity to compete.
The Local 19 competitors were: 2nd Year: James Primodie and Austin Daniels, 3rd year: John Lawrysh and Braxton Koppenheffer, 4th year: Christopher Hart and Zachary Mortimer, 5th Year: James Woods and William Mills.
Here is how Local 19 members fared in the competition:
2ND YEAR: James Primodie was the first-place finisher and Austin Daniels took third place.
3RD YEAR: Braxton Koppenheffer was the first-place finisher.
5TH YEAR: William Mills was the first-place finisher.
GRAND CHAMPION: This year’s contest featured a new category of “Grand Champion.” The contestant who scored the highest grade for all aspects was crowned the Grand Champion. Braxton Koppenheffer took home this honor.
1st Place: The team of Austin Daniels, Braxton Koppenheffer, Zachary Mortimer, and Austin Mills.
3rd Place: The team of James Primodie, John Lawrysh, Christopher Hart, and James Woods.
The contest is a great experience for all involved. Apprentices can meet fellow apprentices and journeymen from all over the region and make lifelong friends.
“One word to sum up the apprentice competition weekend – camaraderie,” Mortimer said.
“That may have been one of the first times in my life where the weekend started in a room full of complete strangers that within hours turned into brothers/sisters. To me personally, that’s what the union is all about. Building a trade, building a career, and being there for fellow members.”
The contest exemplifies brotherhood. As unions from all over the region get together to test the skills of the apprentices, they realize that the trade is more than a job. They understand that our craft bonds us to our brothers and sisters and that union ideals make us family.
“The Mid-Atlantic Apprentice Competition was a huge success due to the involvement of all the locals that participated. It’s more than a competition; it’s seeing camaraderie, brotherhood, meeting new faces and building lifelong relationships.” said John Espinos, Local 27 Training Coordinator.
“The contest gives the apprentices a chance to get away from their home locals, be part of a regional event and see how much support all of us in the industry are putting behind their success,” added Joseph Frick, Training Coordinator for Local 19, Philadelphia. “It can be an experience of a lifetime. I am so thankful for all the local unions, contractor associations, prize sponsors, and the contest committee for everyone’s participation to make this contest a success.”
Sponsors are vital to the success of the competition. They help pay for the entire event including prizes, the banquet, and shop materials. The dedication to the industry is proven by the donations of the following sponsors: SMCA of Central & Southern NJ, SMCA of Central PA, SMACNA of Western PA, SMCA of Maryland/DC, SMACNA Mid-Atlantic, SMCA of Union, Morris, and Somerset, SMCA of Northeast PA, SMCA of Philadelphia and Vicinity, Twin Tiers Sheet Metal Contractors Association, Blanski Energy Management, Bonland Industries, Buist, Inc., Thomas Company, Airgas, Alro Steel, Dewalt, Duro Dyne, Everhard Products, Klenk, Field Piece, G & S Fasteners, Lawson Products, Lenox, Lincoln Electric, Malco, Milwaukee Tools, Retrotec, Roper Whitney, Steadman, Tennsmith.
Braxton Koppenheffer receiving his two awards.
Group project award.
Austin Daniels works on the drafting portion of the contest.
Christopher Hart welds.
Union Hero: At 85, Ed Needham’s 50 years of service to Local 19, community being honored
They say that nothing in life is guaranteed. But whoever coined that phrase obviously never met Ed Needham.
For half a century Ed, 85, has been a fixture within Local 19 and the Bucks County community. He has been a member of the Bucks County Central Labor Council for 50 years, goes to meetings every month, is a member of Local 19’s Retirees Club executive board, sat for years on the Board of Directors for Lower Bucks Hospital, and served as the Labor Liaison with Bucks County. To honor his tireless service, the Bucks County Golf Outing, which is sponsored by the Central Labor Council, is being renamed The Ed Needham Invitational.
“His accomplishments and what he’s done for the county is really eye-opening,” said Tom Tosti, President of the Bucks County Central Labor Council and Director of AFSCME District Council 88. “Most people don’t do this work for 50 years. Most of the time, when they retire they just walk away. But he’s stayed.”
Each May, Ed would coordinate with county commissioners on activities for the Stamp Out Hunger campaign. He was instrumental in getting the kitchen in the Bristol Borough Area Active Adult Center rebuilt. As a member of the Executive Board of the Retirees’ Club of Local 19, Ed played a major role in the club’s efforts in past years in the collecting and donating over $8,000 to help out-of-work sheet metal workers, who are out of unemployment benefits, for the Christmas holidays. This was based off of a similar program he created in Bucks County years ago to help out of work union members during the holiday season.
“Ed was the one who started that years ago,” Tosti said of the Christmas time fund drive. He said the decision to rename the golf outing in Ed’s honor was an easy one. “He’s done a lot for labor, and for him to go unrecognized would have been sad.”
The dinner featured several citations from the Central Labor Council, Bucks County, the Commonwealth, and Congress. Both Commissioner Bob Harvie and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick spoke at the event and presented Ed with his awards.
Ed, who lives in Langhorne Borough in Bucks County, has been a member of the Local for 61 years, since he was 24 years old.
“I was very fortunate to get a job in construction. I worked that job for four years, then I got my apprenticeship,” Ed recalled. He said he’s quite pleased to be recognized by his fellow union members and the lifetime of connections he’s made in his career.
“Watching your back, working together, trying to make a better community for everybody to live in, that is what I (love) about it,” Ed said of the union and his lifetime of volunteering.
Ed a public event that included former Congresswoman Rep. Allyson Schwartz and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.