A conversation with 25-year sheet metal worker and Connecticut State Rep. Joe de la Cruz
Over the next two episodes, we sit down with SMART members who have successfully run for local or statewide public office. We discuss their sheet metal and transportation careers, what motivated them to run for elected office, specific steps they took to build and run successful campaigns and key issues they focused on once in office.
Our featured guest this episode is Joe de la Cruz, a 25-year sheet metal worker with SMART and vice president of Hillery Company, a signatory metal fabricator located in Groton, Conn. Brother de la Cruz is also a state representative, proudly serving the communities of Groton and New London. He was elected in 2016 to his first term in the General Assembly, after serving on Groton’s Town Council and Representative Town Meeting.
In 2020, Joe also kickstarted a national campaign to bring metal nose strips to thousands of volunteer mask makers across the United States and Canada, at a time when masks were in critically short supply. Starting at Local 40, the effort quickly spread to SMART locals across North America, eventually resulting in over 17 million nose strips being produced and shipped to more than 27,000 people who requested them. For his leadership on this effort, Joe was honored in 2021 with the Joseph J. Nigro SMART Army Service Award.
Throughout our discussion, Brother de la Cruz underscored the importance of being engaged and involved with your local community if you want to have a say in what happens, whether it’s with local sports leagues, or on multi-million dollar decisions about Project Labor Agreements.
In addition, listen for the open mic segment with General President Joseph Sellers at the end of this episode. He responds to a question about what steps SMART members should take if they decide to run for office.
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Talking SMART is a member of the Labor Radio Podcast Network — working people’s voices, broadcasting worldwide 24 hours a day.
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