Local 19 Wins Big at the Mid Atlantic Apprentice Competition

Local 19 Wins Big at the Mid-Atlantic Apprentice Competition

by Patrick Edmonds

This year, the Mid-Atlantic Apprentice Competition was hosted by Local 19 Philadelphia, and Local 19 did not disappoint. The contest took place from June 2 to June 4, 2022 and included nine different locals from the region, including Local 12 Pittsburgh, Local 19 Central PA, Local 19 Philadelphia, Local 22 Central NJ, Local 25 North NJ, Local 27 South NJ, Local 44 Wilkes Barre, Local 100 Washington, D.C., and Local 112 Elmira NY. 

“It was a pleasure to host such a great group of apprentices from our region,” said Joe Frick, Philadelphia Training Coordinator. “The dedication to the trade is remarkable, and the comradery among the apprentices and everyone involved is amazing.” 

Fourth Year Apprentice John Lawrysh III took first place in the fourth year apprentice category, showing off superior welding skills. 

Third Year Apprentice James Primodie took first place for the second year in a row. 

Local 19 Central PA, for the 4th year in a row, brought home the group contest trophy. The group contest is about teamwork, and the team of Georg Hoefer, Austin Daniels, and Braxton Koppenheffer did an outstanding job.

2nd Year

Georg Hoefer – 2nd place, Local 19 Central PA

Bradley Coe – 4th place, Local 19 Philadelphia

3rd Year 

 James Primodie – 1st place Local 19 Philadelphia

Austin Daniels – 2nd place, Local 19 Central PA

4th Year

 John Lawrysh III – 1st place, Local 19 Philadelphia

Braxton Koppenheffer – 2nd place, Local 19 Central PA

Group Competition

Local 19 Central PA – 1st place

Local 19 Philadelphia – 2nd place

Local 19’s apprentices showed their hard work and dedication with their performance this year. Each and every one spent hours preparing and studying for the contest. The apprentices of Local 19 look forward to continuing their winning ways in 2023. Next year’s contest is being hosted by Local 12 in Pittsburgh.  

All photography by Local 19 member Jacob DiPietro.

Ventilation Verification

by Patrick Edmonds

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge. As sheet metal workers, a large percentage of our work consists of ventilation systems that help buildings operate efficiently and healthily. 

The pandemic has brought the work of TABB and Commissioning to the forefront. Sheet metal workers have seen an increased need for IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) and TAB (Testing, Adjusting, and Balancing) technicians created by this need for healthy indoor air quality and proper ventilation, filtration, airflow patterns, and equipment maintenance. Ventilation Verification and IAQ assessments will help ensure buildings are safe from contaminants, such as pollutants, viruses, and bacteria. Due to the influx of this work, the training provided by sheet metal training centers and the International Training Institute has been spotlighted.

While some of the initial pushback might be “this is testing, adjusting, and balancing (TAB) work, and our members don’t do that.” Our key message is: “It’s not as complex as you think.”

In this step of the process – the assessment of a HVAC system – there is no adjustment required, just a recording of the air flow/filtration numbers on a form provided by NEMI that generates a report of current conditions and the next steps (whether maintenance, repairs, upgrades or replacements) to be determined by a design professional.

Nationally, there is a need for technicians that are trained to do Ventilation Verification Assessments. Most of this work is related to basic sheet metal skills and general knowledge of mechanical systems and components is a necessity. Some key aspects of the assessment are: 

  • Filtration and Ventilation meet minimum adequate requirements and recommendations.
  • HVAC components are functioning, and each unit is maintained to operate as designed.
  • Verify air distribution and building pressure.
  • HVAC operating schedule matches occupancy requirements.
  • All zones shall be equipped with a functioning CO2 monitor with the required capabilities.
  • Review of the Ventilation Verification Assessment by a Design Professional.
  • Completion of Design Professional’s recommended repairs and adjustments.
  • Prepare and submit a final HVAC Verification Report.
    • Documentation of final conditions, remaining deficiencies, and a plan to address remaining deficiencies.
    • Identifying and providing any grandfathered and/or landmarked establishments that may hinder changes to the HVAC infrastructure.
  • Establish a Preventative Maintenance List and Agreement with a vendor.

With proper assessments, design professionals can develop action plans to remedy problems with HVAC systems. In many cases, federal programs are available for commercial buildings that help offset the costs associated with the Ventilation Verification Assessment, systems retrofits, or system adjustments. After the design professional recommends changes, sheet metal contractors can benefit from the remediation work. 

Physical verification — and thereby adjustment and/or replacement — of an HVAC system by a skilled, trained, and certified technician will ensure accurate ventilation rates, functioning filtration, and achievement of the desired outcome with money well spent to protect the health and safety of the building occupants.

By being at the forefront of Ventilation Verification work, sheet metal workers can affect change in our communities. Understanding ventilation and its effects on occupants is essential to healthy buildings and work environments.

For more information about Ventilation Verification training please contact your training center.  

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Retirees Club Helps Community Near and Far


by Charlie Sprang

SMW19-Retirees-Check-Blog-Post-PhotoAs you are well aware, your Local is always willing to lend a helping hand. Whether it be for a Local 19 brother or sister who is experiencing an unexpected hardship or a local institution or group in need of assistance, the leadership and members have always been willing to step up to help.

An opportunity can materialize from anywhere, even halfway around the world.

Bob Schuck, a 55-year member of Local 19 and Vice President of the Retirees Club, learned that the Sisters of St. Basil the Great were collecting supplies to ship over to Ukraine. Schuck; Father Bill Waters, the pastor of Schuck’s parish, St. Augustine Catholic Church in Old City; and another parishioner went to see Sister Joanne Sosler, the Provincial Superior for the Eastern Rite Catholic order, at the Motherhouse in Jenkintown.

“We found out that they had been collecting supplies: blankets, sleeping bags, men’s clothing, babies’ clothes, diapers, everything,” Schuck said. “They had collected so much they were out of room.”

The supplies are packed into boxes, loaded into containers, and shipped to Poland, where Basilian sisters  in Warsaw distribute the items to the more than three million Ukrainian refugees in that country. So far, they’ve shipped two containers at $10,000 per shipment.

“We asked how we could help and she said we could donate money,” said Schuck. “We donated $1,000 and that represents the largest donation the Retirees Club ever made.”

Schuck has been busy spreading the word. He’s mentioned it at Retirees Club meetings, and several members have traveled to Jenkintown to help the sisters pack boxes. 

The Retirees Club meets the second Tuesday of every month at the Hall except in the summer. Club President Jim Farally said they average about 40 members at meetings.

“We have probably over 100 members, and we have people send in dues from as far away as Florida,” said Farally, who noted dues are only $10 a year. “We have members over 90 years old come to the meetings. We even have fathers and sons as members. It is a good organization.”

They have speakers at most of the meetings to discuss issues affecting senior citizens, and they try to make it interesting for everybody. There is a Christmas luncheon every year, but they also plan outings for the members.

“We go on different trips. We’ll go to a Phillies game, a businessperson special,” noted Farally. “Right now, we have a dinner theater we’re working on and another trip to Annapolis, but that has to be voted on. We reach out to people to see what they want to do.”

Executive Board Member Frank Beck organized one such trip, a tour of the USS New Jersey at the end of April. Originally scheduled to be self-guided, Beck said the ship’s Director of Marketing and Sales Jack Willard arranged for it to be a guided tour.

“It was called a Firepower Tour because they took us around to all the gun turrets,” Beck explained. “They took us below deck to the war room and officers’ quarters. They showed us the crew berths, the galley, and the mess decks. We got to go up to the bridge too. It was a good tour that lasted about two hours.”

They also schedule a yearly meeting where they invite the second-year apprentices to join them.

“We treat them to lunch and share our experience and talk to them about what the Local has to offer,” Farally said. “We ask them if they have any questions. We’re building good relationships.”

Farally said the Retirees Club is always looking for a few good men and women to join the club.

“We have people retiring as early as 55,” he said. “So, we’re always looking for younger members. I don’t want this to fall by the wayside.”

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A New Ramp for a Member in Need

A New Ramp for a Member in Need, Steve Spatocco receives his new home ramp
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.

A New Ramp for a Member in Need, Steve Spatocco receives his new home ramp

Some of the apprentices who helped install the ramp.

A New Ramp for a Member in Need, Steve Spatocco receives his new home ramp

Steve said he was glad to spend time with the apprentices setting up the ramp.

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Local 19 and Nova Industrial Arts Donate Scoreboard to New Jersey High School

Local 19 and Nova Industrial Arts Donate Scoreboard to New Jersey High School

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.

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Local 19 Wins Big at Mid-Atlantic Apprentice Competition

Local 19 Wins Big at Mid-Atlantic Apprentice Competition Group project award

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

Braxton Koppenheffer receiving his two awards.

Local 19 Wins Big at Mid-Atlantic Apprentice Competition Group project award

Group project award.

Austin Daniels works on the drafting portion of the contest

Austin Daniels works on the drafting portion of the contest.

Sheet Metal Worker Hart welding

Christopher Hart welds.

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Union Hero: At 85, Ed Needham’s 50 years of service to Local 19, community being honored

Union Hero: At 85, Ed Needham’s 50 years of service to Local 19, community being honored
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. 

Union Hero: At 85, Ed Needham’s 50 years of service to Local 19, community being honored
Union Hero: At 85, Ed Needham’s 50 years of service to Local 19, community being honored
Union Hero: At 85, Ed Needham’s 50 years of service to Local 19, community being honored

Ed a public event that included former Congresswoman Rep. Allyson Schwartz and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 

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