Rchard Bermack Photography


Sheetmetal Workers International Association Local Union 104

Organized Labor

Sheet Metal Workers' International Association Local Union 104
Sheet metal workers transform office buildings and residences into livable environments by creating miles of metal duct ways that bring in fresh air and control the indoor environmental temperature. They do it by taking flat sheets of metal and constructing three-dimensional fittings of complex angles, which allow them to wrap metal duct work around beams and all kinds of objects as they thread through offices, strapped to ceilings and burrowed under floors. Sheet metal workers used to figure out all the angles in their heads and do the cutting by hand. Now computer-driven plasma lasers do the cutting and layout for them. Newer machines will even do the assembly. Foreman Paul Lim, at Anderson, Rowe & Buckley, Inc., showed off his new Fabriduct Coil Line machine. Over 50-feet long and 20-feet wide, it automatically cuts, bends, and seams. Rolls of metal are loaded at one end and large box fittings come out the other. Occasionally sheet metal workers face the challenging opportunity to manually create a custom fitting the old way, giving the knowledge they learned in high school math and apprenticeship school a work out. But either way, they really take pride in their creations. “On the Job Site” visited workers installing air conditioning at the new, ultra-modern Levi Building in North Beach. We then visited workers doing fabrication at ARB Mechanical, one of the largest duct work fabricators in San Francisco, and later visited Tulley Mechanical Inc., a small custom shop. Local 104 is one of the oldest locals in San Francisco, originally founded in 1903, and it now represents 8,000 workers throughout northern California.