The Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) 60th annual convention in Washington, DC, provided many SMACNA members the opportunity to call on their U.S. Senators and Representatives.

Members from a dozen chapters found time to visit Capitol Hill to reinforce the union construction industry’s position on such issues as pension funding relief, infrastructure spending to boost the economy, permanent estate tax relief for small business, and unfair competition by utilities.

Other annual convention highlights included speakers Newt Gingrich and Senators Mary Landrieu and Evan Bayh. Sen. Landrieu was enthusiastic about a new democratic pro-business coalition in the Senate that is encouraging management to reach out and work with their labor partners. She noted that SMACNA and the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association were excellent examples of how good things happen when labor and management work together.

Sen. Bayh’s legislative staff and SMACNA’s legislative staff recently worked on a bill to help multi-employer pension plans survive the stock market decline. Sen. Bayh introduced a bill that would provide relief to plans at no cost to the government, and although the provisions of his bill are not likely to be included in the latest Senate pension bill, Sen. Bayh said he will continue to keep this issue on the table.

In keeping with SMACNA’s tradition of recognizing a charity in the convention host city, President Jack Desmond presented $5,000 to the Capitol Hill Children’s Baseball/Softball League (CHBSL) Scholarship Fund so less fortunate children may experience the benefits of participating in a team sport.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Mark C. Watson of Climate Engineers Inc., Cedar Rapids, IA, was installed as the new SMACNA president.

SMACNA’s 61st annual convention is scheduled for Maui, HI at the Grand Wailea Resort, October 24-28, 2004. For more information call 703/803-2980, or visit www.smacna.org.