Joseph Sellers Jr., Secretary-Treasurer of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (Smart) union and its predecessor, the SMWIA, since July 2011, will succeed union President Joseph Nigro (right) on April 30. Sellers will fill out Nigro’s unexpired term. Nigro said he is stepping down “to fully focus on recovering from a series of recent surgeries.” Click below to read more.
Sellers (left) became an apprentice Sheet Metal Worker with southeastern Pennsylvania Local 19 in 1980 and a journeyman four years later. The son of Joseph Sellers Sr., a 51-year Sheet Metal Worker and Local 19 leader, Sellers Jr. became local president in 2002 and one of SMWIA’s vice presidents seven years later.
Nigro, a career Sheet Metal Worker from Local 17 in Boston, became president in July, 2011. He wrote to local union leaders that “I committed my heart and mind to accomplishing the goals we have set, but my health has taken me in a direction I did not anticipate. Unfortunately, I have been unable to recover to a level I expect of myself as your president — the level of effort the members deserve.”
His goals included the sometimes-rocky road SMWIA had to negotiate in a merger with the United Transportation Union, which is now Smart’s Transportation Division. Nigro’s effort there succeeded.
The union’s council also named union chief of staff Richard McClees to succeed Sellers as Secretary-Treasurer. “I am grateful to our members for the steadfast support they have given me in merging our two great organizations,” Nigro said. “I have every confidence we have collectively built a team of leaders who can get the job done for the membership.” Sellers and McClees “possess the leadership and management skills that will benefit the union for generations to come.”
Nigro also was prominent at the last AFL-CIO Convention in Los Angeles, when he stood up and bluntly warned colleagues that unless problems with implementing the Affordable Care Act for multi-employer health care plans – such as those covering building trades workers – were solved, there would be a mass exodus of workers from health care coverage, and from building trades unions.