Members are the lifeblood of the union, and their stories educate, motivate and ignite careers — especially when those members are well represented. In the unionized sheet metal industry, it’s more important than ever that women and minorities — and those around them — see their futures in the work, encourage their peers to join and see the value a union career can make in their lives.

Highlighted below are stories of success from those who wish they had more people who looked like them in the union they call “family.”

Jennifer Scott

Part-time instructor

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a fourth-generation sheet metal worker who graduated from the apprenticeship in September 2022. During her fourth year, she was brought on as a part-time instructor by Local 104 to teach pre-apprentices and continues as a part-time instructor teaching welding and architectural sheet metal. Jennifer also serves as an architectural foreman for Omni Sheet Metal in San Jose. She and her husband, who is also a member of Local 104, are raising a daughter and young son — who exclaimed during his kindergarten graduation, “I want to be a sheet metal worker like my mommy!”

Like her son, Jennifer grew up around not just the sheet metal industry in general but architectural sheet metal, a specialty she shares with her both her parents, her grandfather and her great-grandfather. Architectural sheet metal is the most visual specialty in the trade, because it’s the one most often seen by the general public. Architectural sheet metal can be anything decorative or water deterrent, such as finishing on the side of a building, a decorative stainless steel hood vent in a commercial kitchen or hand-cut and soldered details on a 100-year-old building restoration.

As a child, Jennifer watched her mother make scuppers, metal outlets for water on the sides of buildings, and recalls, “I thought it looked fun.”

She and her husband are part-time instructors and worked with the Local 104 and Bay Area Industry Training Fund to alternate nights they teach, so one of them can be at home in the evenings with their children. Anyone who is going to be successful in the industry must communicate with their local union if they need an accommodation or help in any way. It’s the best way to be successful, she said.

“I love to teach. I like to be able to help people understand,” she said. “I’m dyslexic, and I have a couple learning disabilities, so I understand, and if someone doesn’t understand, I can break it down for them like I break it down in my head. I know how to twist it in a way to help them, so they don’t get lost. I like to be able to explain it in its simplest form.”

Renee Matosich

Part-time instructor

Renee M

Renee Matosich followed her grandfather, father and two uncles into the unionized sheet metal trade, graduating from the apprenticeship program and beginning her teaching career at Local 104 in 2021. The reason? She had a good childhood because of the careers her father and grandfather had, and she wanted that life for her own family.

Originally from Modesto, California, Renee chose the testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB) specialty, which exercises her mathematic and problem-solving abilities on a daily basis. It’s also a specialty that requires her to keep learning — from on-the-job experiences she is more than happy to share with apprentices in her applicant and TAB/controls classes.

She currently holds the following certifications: Duct Leakage Testing Technician, Indoor Air Quality Technician, Mechanical Acceptance Test Level 2 Technician, Testing Adjusting and Balancing Bureau (TABB) Technician and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 30.

“In addition to teaching, I also work in the field full time, so by constantly learning I feel I have a lot to offer the next generation and I stay involved as the workplace evolves,” she said. “It’s rewarding to watch new members learn and apply the knowledge I share with them.”

Just as men in the sheet metal industry have encouraged their sons, grandsons and nephews to join the trade, so too should female family members be encouraged, as Renee was by her male relatives. Hard work and dedication aren’t dictated by gender roles. By the time Renee graduated from the apprenticeship, she had already secured a part-time instructor role in addition to working full time in the field.

“Women need to be aware that we can succeed in this field with hard work,” she said. “What surprised me most about the industry was how fast you can learn and earn your ranking with dedication and hard work. The highlight of my career, so far, is being able to run my own crew and provide high-quality work along with having the opportunity to spread my knowledge for future generations to come.”