Brothers and sisters, I want to start by saying that it is the honor of my lifetime to represent you, the men and women of SMART.

This great union has given me and my family everything we have; I promise to dedicate myself to ensuring every member, current and future, has the same opportunity. And make no mistake: Thanks in no small part to General President Sellers, this is a time of unprecedented opportunity for workers in North America

In the sheet metal industry, we are seeing an extraordinary amount of new work across our two nations: dozens of megaprojects with strong labor standards, the return of manufacturing in America, a new emphasis on indoor air quality and more.

Following the disaster in East Palestine and increased media pressure, the SMART Transportation Division is seeing real movement on rail safety for the first time in years, both at the state level and with the steady progress of the federal Railway Safety Act.

Transit operator safety is making headlines in states across the country, from Los Angeles to Philadelphia, providing the public awareness and momentum to finally secure real change to the unacceptable status quo.

The actions we take today will determine the future for our communities, our families and our union for decades to come. The time is now — let’s take advantage of it.

This is our moment. But only if we act.

The time is now to grow:

Megaprojects are creating workforce demands that are nearly unheard of — and that’s not even mentioning our core work. On both the International and the local level, we need to ensure that we are recruiting and welcoming people from all the communities in which we live and work: women, people of color, LGBTQ+ workers, veterans, the formerly incarcerated and more.

The time is now to get involved:

SMART-TD is on offense. But momentum and media attention are not constant; we cannot wait to make our presence felt in our communities and in the offices of our elected officials. Push your elected representatives and U.S. Senators to vote for a strong, pro-worker Railway Safety Act, and connect with your local union to find out what legislation, regulation or organizing is happening in your area. One example: On April 26, the Federal Transportation Agency (FTA) posted a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) regarding public transportation agency safety plans; SMART-TD has worked with bus members and vice presidents to submit a compelling argument on members’ behalf.

The time is now to organize:

We cannot expect to apprentice our way into the growth we need to secure our future. By organizing nonunion workers across all crafts and industries into SMART, we will bolster our collective bargaining power, increase our market share and help communities across our two nations realize the value of union membership: family-sustaining pay, meaningful benefits, a strong pension and dignity on the job.

Brothers and sisters, the actions we take today will determine the future for our communities, our families and our union for decades to come. The time is now — let’s take advantage of it.

In solidarity,

SMART General President Michael Coleman

I want to begin by congratulating Michael Coleman on his election by the SMART General Executive Council to serve as our General President. I have worked with Mike for years and look forward to where he will lead us as we move forward together, in solidarity.

In this pivotal moment, we stand at the crossroads of opportunity and challenge. The 2024 election looms ahead, presenting us with a chance to continue to shape the course of our nation’s future. At the same time, rapid technological advancements are revolutionizing the way we live, work and connect. We must seize this moment to prepare for the upcoming election, embrace the promise of technological innovation and position our union to navigate the changes that lie ahead.

The 2024 election will influence our nation for decades to come. We need to elect allies who stand by our union and work with us to improve the lives of SMART members, our industries and our families. There is too much at stake for us to turn back to an administration when we were constantly defending ourselves from attack after attack on the standards we set for generations of Americans.

Now is the time to engage in active political participation, to become informed about the issues that matter most to us as union members and to exercise our right to vote. By understanding the platforms and policies of political candidates, we can make informed choices that align with our union values. This means voting for those who stand with us on rail safety, new work opportunities for sheet metal workers, bringing back domestic jobs and ensuring working people are treated fairly.

Now is our time to act and position our union for a future of progress and prosperity. Let us come together, transcend differences and work towards a common goal: a dynamic union that thrives amidst change, that embraces innovation, and that uplifts each and every one of its members.

In parallel, technological innovation has become an integral part of our daily lives, transforming industries and societies alike — and we must prepare ourselves for what lies ahead. Investing in training for the sheet metal industry of tomorrow is crucial for SMART to remain at the forefront of innovation. By promoting our role in rebuilding America’s infrastructure through new data centers, electric battery plants and microchip plants and improving the quality of air in our schools, we will ensure our union is equipped to tackle the challenges and embrace the opportunities that the future holds.

Lastly, we must strive to build a united and inclusive union. Nurturing our solidarity through programs like I Got Your Back and embracing diversity and inclusion are vital to our growth, our competitiveness and our collective efforts to fulfill the core goal of our union — representation for all members. Doing this puts us on the forefront of creating a society that is fair and just for all, addressing systemic issues and securing equal opportunities for everyone.

Now is the time to act and position our union for a future of progress and prosperity. Let us come together, transcend differences and work towards a common goal: a dynamic union that thrives amidst change, that embraces innovation, and that uplifts each and every one of its members.

In solidarity,

Joseph Powell
SMART General Secretary Treasurer

Brothers and sisters,

SMART Transportation Division has seen historic successes in 2023 and at the same time, we face some unprecedented struggles. 

Since our last publication, many of our freight rail members have won major victories with new contracts including paid sick leave, increased schedule predictability, and pay increases. Two-person crew and other rail-safety legislations have been passed in statehouses around the country, and the United States Congress maintains its focus in the face of carriers’ intense opposition to take overdue action that gives our members’ safety and quality of life the credence that they deserve.

As the SMART-TD President I am also very excited to have Brother Mike Coleman as the new General President of SMART. We wished General President Sellers a very happy retirement at our board of directors meeting this past April, and I was proud to see Mike sworn in as General President at our General Executive Council meeting on May 23rd. Mike and I have had a longstanding working relationship and I am also proud to call him a friend.

On the flip side of all the positive we are experiencing, I am very troubled with the fact our bus members’ safety has never been more at risk. On May 18, a SMART-TD bus operator from Local 1715 (Charlotte, NC) was involved in a shoot-out with a disgruntled bus passenger, an incident that sent both men to the hospital with what were described as life-threatening injuries.

Less than a week later, on May 24, another SMART-TD bus operator out of Local 1608 (Chatsworth, Calif.) was stabbed multiple times in the neck and back while working his assigned route in Los Angeles.

There have been news reports of gunfire on buses, angry parents going after school bus drivers, road rage incidents. The list is extensive.

You cannot tell me that it is acceptable that on two out of every three days in this country one of our transit workers is violently assaulted.

The United States Federal Transit Administration put out a study in December 2022 entitled “Update on Transit Worker Assault Prevention and Mitigation.” This report looked at data from 2008 through 2011. In those 13 years, the FTA reports that there was an average of 241 assaults per year on transit workers throughout the country. This study itself points out that, “This data includes only the most serious events, and may significantly underestimate the total number of assaults.”

You cannot tell me that it is acceptable that on two out of every three days in this country one of our transit workers is violently assaulted. These men and women are the lifeblood of our economy, getting Americans to work and improving their quality-of-life day in and day out. They deserve to be heard and protected like the essential workers that we know they are. We’ve had two members on both sides of the country in the hospital fighting for their lives as a result of violent incidents. Last year, also in Charlotte, one of our members was killed by gunfire while on the job. 

It’s no time for a government study. It’s not time to discuss increasing next year’s safety budget. Our men and women deserve and demand immediate and definitive actions to ensure their physical safety. The FTA has requested public comments on what needs to be done to shore up safety in public transportation, and SMART-TD members can rest assured that our call to action will be heard.

On another positive note, our general chairpersons on multiple rail carriers have a lot of momentum going into the summer. New agreements, including crew-consist guarantees, paid sick leave for multiple crafts including some yardmasters, and more firmed-up scheduling for time off have been making their way into rail crew rooms all over the country. To the GCs who have been on the front lines negotiating these quality-of-life improvements for our rail members, you have both my gratitude and support.

SMART-TD has also spent the spring and early summer delivering on the legislative front. Our skilled group of State Legislative Directors and our National Legislative Department have been producing great results in state legislatures and on the hill in Washington D.C. We are moving the needle nationally on issues of rail safety, 2PC, and others. Credit for these pivotal victories does not belong exclusively to me, or our office holders. You, the SMART-TD members, have done a remarkable job of advocating on your own behalf. We asked you to be part of this process, and we continue to be excited by your response.

To that end, I would like to personally thank each and every one of you, your friends and family members who have answered the bell and sent your messages to legislators, written letters to the editor, and have reached out to our office this year to add your voices to SMART-TD’s efforts to mold the public policy surrounding railway safety. Please continue to use the tools your union provides you to continue this push. Your continued use of the new hours-of-service reports, the safety conditions reports, and tech event reports is a key ingredient to keeping our union’s momentum and countering the carriers’ attempts to sow misinformation. 

And, as a reminder, please update your personal information via the website and app so that we can keep you informed of what’s happening in your industry and your union.

As an organization SMART-TD is only growing stronger each day with all of your dedication and we are without a doubt the best bus, rail and air union in the country. I appreciate your hard work and want you to know that your union is in the fight with you. There will always be much more that needs to be accomplished by this organization, but you can rest assured that we are doing everything that can be done to advocate for you and your family.


Jeremy R. Ferguson
President, Transportation Division

Darrell L. Roberts is now assistant to the general president at SMART. Previously, he served as the SMART director of organizing and spent nearly 14 years as the executive director of Helmets to Hardhats (H2H). He has served in the United States Navy as a hull technician and attained the rank of petty officer second class. He served in the Army National Guard as a staff sergeant. In March 2003, he was activated for a yearlong deployment to Kosovo, where he served as an infantry squad leader.

“I consider my position as assistant to the general president to be the latest in a long line of opportunities,” Roberts said. “I look forward to serving SMART members and their families in this new capacity.”

Darrell worked in the field for many years as a union sheet metal worker. He serves on the U.S. Department of Labor Advisory Committee on Veterans Employment, Training, and Employer Outreach (ACVETEO), as well as the Veterans Advisory Committee on Education (VACOE) for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He is a lifetime member of the VFW and a member of the American Legion, as well as a board member of the American Chestnut Land Trust (ACLT). He holds a master’s degree in executive leadership from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the National Labor College. Darrell resides with his family in southern Maryland.

New SMART General President Michael Coleman has been stepping up for his fellow members since his days as a rank-and-file sheet metal worker in Cleveland. He worked as a foreman shortly after becoming a journeyperson, then decided he wanted to represent his brothers and sisters in the local.

“I realized very early on I wanted to be a leader in the industry,” he said. “I wanted to help represent the membership — that’s what led me into becoming an elected official, just my desire to represent the members.”

Coleman became a business representative at Local 33 in his early thirties; as time progressed, he decided to run for business manager to ensure member voices took priority in northern Ohio. There, he garnered a reputation for innovation: pursuing groundbreaking strategies in order to recruit more members, effectively structure local funds, provide greater flexibility to members and more.

Local 33 Business Representative Corey Beaubien, Director of Partnership Development Eli Baccus and International Representative Tom Wiant specifically praised changes Coleman made to the local’s scope of work and organizing — from building out Local 33’s fire life safety capacity, to devising special agreements and intra-local travel incentives to maintain work during economic slowdowns, to restructuring the organizing department to maximize cohesion and effectiveness. The result: steady growth at the local.

“The members are the union — that was the core value of this union when I joined in 1985, and it remains the foundational principle of SMART to this day,”

“Every decision that he’s made, it’s always been about the members first,” Beaubien said. “He was very successful in pushing us in organizing as a leader, and with the success he had in Ohio, I believe it’s going to translate to the whole country.”

Current Local 33 President and Business Manager Tim Miller agreed, pointing to the redirect fund Coleman conceived to give members more choice in the disbursement of health and pension funds.

“The members love it to this day,” he said. “It works, and it’s an example of how Mike just doesn’t take no for an answer. He knows there’s a solution to the problem, and he continues until he finds that solution and then he implements it.”

After several years leading Local 33, Coleman moved to Washington, DC to work as SMART’s director of business and management relations. Mere months later, General President Sellers asked Coleman to become assistant to the general president, a position in which he served until May 31, 2023. He played a crucial role during SMART’s second-ever General Convention in 2019, serving as secretary of the Constitution Committee and shepherding through 114 proposed amendments — helping to facilitate the democratic process of our union. He also worked side-by-side with Sellers to push for legislation that positions SMART members for future success.

That work is now beginning to bear fruit. “It’s our time. Now is our time,” Coleman declared.

In the short term, he explained, the dozens of megaprojects breaking ground across North America present local sheet metal unions with both unprecedented opportunity and workforce challenges. At the same time, rail and transit operator safety has become a headline issue from California to Charlotte, presenting SMART Transportation Division members with the chance to go on offense and secure lasting legislation and regulation. Key to both sets of priorities, Coleman noted, is the need to recruit and retain workers across crafts and industries, no matter their background.

“This is an opportunity to organize; organize like I don’t know I have ever seen before,” he said. “We have a chance to grow, to strengthen our numbers, to become a force in markets, communities and government offices across our two nations. We need to reflect the communities we all live in, and we need to ensure every member of this union — regardless of race, creed, beliefs, place of origin, sexual orientation or anything else — knows that they belong.”

With opportunity comes great challenges, Coleman added. Staffing megaprojects while maintaining core sheet metal work requires a new scale of organizing and recruiting, and the flighty winds of politics mean that nothing can be taken for granted when it comes to securing meaningful transportation safety legislation. Nevertheless, momentum is on our side.

“The members are the union — that was the core value of this union when I joined in 1985, and it remains the foundational principle of SMART to this day,” Coleman said. “When we come together to fight for our jobs, our communities and our families, we cannot be stopped. I want all members to understand that we’re going to continue with our representation, and we’re going to continue coming up with new initiatives that make their lives and their families’ lives better.”

Retired SMART General President Joseph Sellers, Jr. received a rail lantern in appreciation of his service at the Transportation Division Board of Directors meeting on April 4, 2023. From left are: Bus Department Vice President Calvin Studivant; Vice President John Whitaker; Vice President Chad Adams; SMART General Secretary-Treasurer Joseph Powell; TD President Jeremy Ferguson; GP Sellers; Vice President Brent Leonard; Vice President Jamie Modesitt; Vice President David Wier Jr., Vice President Joe Lopez and Bus Department Vice President Alvy Hughes.

This issue’s Rail, Mechanical and Engineering (RME) Department Report is from International Representative Larry Holbert:

During my 40-plus years as a railroader, I have always sought out opportunities to participate in my union, not only in the General Committee or at the International level, but also at my local union. As a lot of you have heard me say: At every level of our organization, we are only as strong as our local unions. While I’ve certainly seen a lot of changes in the last 40 years, this is one thing that has not changed — the local anchors us both to our fellow members and to our craft.

Attending local meetings over the years, I have always been fascinated when looking at each union’s original charter and reading the names and signatures of the brothers and sisters who drew on said charters to establish our locals, hold the first elections of officers and join their fellow workers in the International. The work confronting these past members required their commitment and dedication: They built their locals to be financially responsible, they drafted and adopted bylaws to govern their affairs, and they eagerly trained on their obligations at the International and on compliance with the law, learning to navigate the Department of Labor, IRS and various other regulatory agencies. Most importantly, they chose who they wanted to enforce their contracts, settle grievances, protect the rights of their members and ensure their work jurisdiction — electing their officers and, when necessary, stepping up to serve in elected roles.

The strength of our locals and the directions they have taken have always been determined by the consensus reached by membership when a local met — it was not just three or four members at meetings making decisions for the rest! Participation in one’s local not only helps members to look out for and support each other, but also builds a stronger and more resilient workforce and protects our trade. You might decide that you have better things in life to do than to attend a meeting, but when you find yourself injured on the job or terminated for not having your PPE on, you’re hoping a fellow member will be there to lend a hand. Or when the carrier gets the idea to remove all the sheet metal workers from the service tracks, you’re hoping you’ll have all your local brothers and sisters there to prove that it’s you and your fellow workers who make the trains run — not dangerous and cynical cost-saving measures.

Brothers and sisters, you need to get involved in your union, you need to serve as officers and continue getting educated; without dedicated officers, there would be no union to speak of. It’s easy to blame our current issues on past officers, but in my opinion, all it comes down to is the proper filing of claims and grievances and to the good retention of documents. Railroad workers have an excellent and effective process for handling claims and grievances under the provisions of the Railway Labor Act. Although I fully agree that nowadays this is much harder than it used to be — with the carriers assigning “labor relation experts” with very limited knowledge of the work we do to respond to our grievances — this only proves that now is the time for our local union leaders, armed with all the training and support that has been made available, to help build competitive and strong locals that are able to stand up to the carriers.

Local officers are the ones who are in the shops every day; they alone can see whether or not a contract is being lived up to, not your general chairperson and not the International. There are a lot of opportunities in this department to change things. We’re just waiting for you to get involved.

The theme of the 2023 SMART Leadership Conference was “This Is Our Time!” In recognition of this important moment — for both our union and the industry — we invite SMART members to practice the five skills of the BE4ALL (Belonging and Excellence for All) leader.

These core skills help to create welcoming workspaces that foster belonging for all. They are also consistent with the vision and mission of BE4ALL, a joint initiative supported by SMART, SMACNA and the International Training Institute (ITI).

The five practices:

1. Intergroup contact. BE4ALL leaders make intergroup contact a daily practice. Intergroup contact requires that leaders step out of their comfort zone to engage people who are different (or those they perceive to be different). If done on a regular basis, this practice can be life changing. In the book Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do, author Jennifer Eberhardt, a Stanford social psychologist, notes that “personal connections can override the power exerted by implicit bias.” There are several ways to practice intergroup contact. In the workplace, the strategy may involve regular lunch meetings or check-ins with coworkers in which two people get to know each other beyond job titles and roles. In private life, intergroup contact could take the form of participating in a diverse social club or community association.

2. Micro-affirmations. BE4ALL leaders also practice micro-affirmations. Micro-affirmations are small — but important — ways that we can acknowledge the humanity, dignity and worth of others. They include:

  • Name recognition. Asking a person for their name, and then remembering and repeating their name later, is one of the most powerful ways that we can signal to another person: “I see you.” “You matter.”
  • Life events. Inquiring about important events in people’s lives. These include birthdays, anniversaries and important holidays. You can record the dates in your calendar – then, when an important date arrives, take a moment to acknowledge the person by sending a card, email or text.
  • Feedback and affirmation. Take time to give other people feedback (positive or otherwise). But remember, for feedback to be effective, it needs to be specific and genuine. It’s also important that you have enough of a relationship with the other person that they will be open to receiving what you have to say.

3. Non-biased decision-making. In the Bias and Belonging training sessions conducted by the ITI, instructors offer several tools to assist with non-biased decision-making. These tools include the use of mental scripts. A simple mental script goes like this:

What if I’m wrong, and what’s happening in this situation is not (what I think it is)? But, instead, it’s (something else).

For example, what if the reason why the apprentice has been late three days in a row has nothing to do with a lack of work ethic? Instead, maybe the person is homeless and sleeping in their car.

Mental scripts invite us to pause and challenge our assumptions before making a decision.

4. Courageous conversations. BE4ALL leaders regularly practice courageous conversations. A courageous conversation is an exchange between two people. Usually, the conversation is initiated in one of two situations: a) when we feel that we have been wronged by another person and/or; b) when we have done or said something (real or perceived) to wrong another person.

In a recent article, we laid out the seven “As” of a courageous conversation.

But there are two that are foundational for every leader. They are

  • Anchoring: Preparing yourself — mentally and emotionally — before the conversation. This provides a reserve of energy to tap into for what can be a long and uncomfortable process. Preparation may include listening to music or going for a walk or run.
  • Acknowledging: Share with the person ways that you may have contributed to the problem or tension. To do this, simply say: “I want to acknowledge that, at times, I can be (or I may have done) ______________. And this may have contributed to the problem or tension we have.

The above practice is often referred to as looking in the mirror leadership versus looking out the window (where we blame and point fingers at others).

5. Remembrance and repair – the two “Rs” of history. Finally, the effective leader takes the time to understand the history of diverse groups. In BE4ALL Learning Journey sessions, we often talk about the two “Rs” of history — remembrance and repair. Remembrance is the practice of reflecting on the past, and looking for lessons that we can apply to the future. Repair is the practice of taking action — as individuals or through our organizations — to repair any harm caused by the past, and to ensure that the past does not repeat itself.

One of the easiest ways to practice remembrance is by visiting museums, either in person or virtually. Below are several resources — each with virtual exhibitions, teaching resources and more that can be accessed via each resource’s website — that leaders can use to support their practice work. Do not just “visit” the exhibits once. Instead, make it a ritual.

The exhibits and resources are:

National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). The NMAI collects and preserves the world’s most expansive collections of Native artifacts and is committed to serving the greater public as an honest and thoughtful conduit to Native cultures — present and past — in all their richness, depth and diversity.

Asian Pacific American Center (APAC). Bringing history, art and culture to you through innovative museum experiences and digital initiatives with the goal of enriching the American story with the voices of Asian Pacific Americans.

LGBTQ+ History. Resources curated by the Smithsonian with LGBTQ+ connections, including archival collections, videos and online exhibits.

National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history and culture.

American Women’s History Museum. Decades in the making, the American Women’s History Museum’s physical location is not yet complete. With a digital-first mission and focus, the online museum amplifies a diversity of women’s voices, highlighting contributions women have made to America’s most defining moments.

Museum of the American Latino. Currently being built to recognize the accomplishments, history and culture of Latino communities.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders world-wide to confront hatred, prevent genocide and promote human dignity.

From May 15–19, 2023, the SMART Recruitment and Retention Council — along with the Roofing and Building Enclosure and Production and Sign Councils — met in Memphis, Tennessee, where SMART leaders from across the United States and Canada reviewed and planned out activities for the year and beyond.

With the continent-wide need for workers at a generational high, now is the time for locals to recruit new members and apprentices for upcoming megaprojects in both nations. Lauren Sugarman and Lark Jackson from Chicago Women in the Trades discussed recruitment strategies to build a diverse pool of potential members to strengthen the union. Tiffany Finck-Haynes from the SMART Government Affairs Department gave an overview of federal funding available to local JATCs to assist with recruitment and retention of members from across all ethnic and gender backgrounds.

Darrell Roberts, SMART’s assistant to the general president, and Josh Garner from the SMART International Organizing Department led a presentation on recruitment tactics, while SMART-TD Chief of Staff Jerry Gibson led a discussion on recruitment and retention and its unique role in the industries the SMART Transportation Division represents. He was joined by John Pitts (organizer from SMART-TD Local 608), James Sandoval (general chairperson for SMART-TD Local 0023) and Chad Yokoyama (SMART-TD Local 1687).

Michael Childers speaks to SMART councilmembers.

Attendees at the Roofing and Building Enclosure Council meeting were also updated on cutting-edge tools and training for new panel systems. These will give SMART architectural sheet metal workers and roofers a leg up over the nonunion competition as SMART continues to expand market share and collective bargaining power for members.

The Production and Sign Council heard from Michael Childers, the department co-chair of the School for Workers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Childers spoke about the collaboration between the labor movement and civil rights movements, and how that solidarity translates to work being done today as SMART looks to spread our message of opportunity to people of all races and backgrounds. Local 464 (Ponca City, Okla.) Business Manager Mechelle McNew, a longtime leader on the council and founding member of the SMART Women’s Committee, was also honored at the close of the council meetings for her contributions to the organization as one of the first woman leaders in the SMART sheet metal industry.

Former SMART General President Joseph Sellers and General President Mike Coleman addressed attendees at all three meetings and updated them on progress at the International level. Each committee later honored General President Sellers for his contributions to the union and the substantial progress made during his time in office. Among the items Sellers received was a fishing rod to use during his retirement, when he will have the chance to spend time with his family.

Remarking at the end of a presentation from the SMART Women’s Committee, whose members were also in attendance, Sellers noted that he “looks forward to seeing the work you continue to do, because you’re shaping SMART.”

SMART Army lands in Memphis

On Thursday, May 18, members of SMART Local 4 in Memphis were joined by SMART members across North America for a community litter cleanup in historic Soulsville, where union members also helped repair and plant in Urban Forest and Community Garden. Following the event, the SMART Army presented a $21,100 check to Memphis City Beautiful, the nation’s oldest beautification commission.

“As part of our Recruitment and Retention Council, Roofing and Building Enclosure Council and Production and Sign Council meetings in Memphis this week, we decided to collectively do what our union does best: uplift working families in local communities,” said SMART General President Michael Coleman, who participated in the volunteer event. “We are proud to partner with organizations like Memphis City Beautiful and the Urban Forest and Community Garden to give back to the neighborhoods in which our members live and work.”

Congresswoman Craig

SMART’s political advocacy has paid off during recent years, as pro-labor members of Congress voted to invest in our jobs and our industries with the American Rescue Plan, the Bipartisan Infrastructure law, the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. International and local union leaders continue to forge political relationships in order to benefit members across the country — and in April, the strength of those relationships was made clear, as congressional leaders from both parties stopped by SMART’s reception during the North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) Legislative Conference.

SMART members in attendance heard from Reps. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.), Angie Craig (D-Minn.), Nannette Barragán (D-Calif.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and Valerie Hoyle (D-Ore.). Members in each representative’s respective state turned out in force to put those candidates in office; in return, each candidate has acted on our behalf: from introducing legislation to bring labor to the table on workforce training standards, to voting to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.

“I’m standing here today because of labor,” Craig said before urging Local 10 (Minnesota) members to leave to watch the Minnesota Wild playoff hockey game. “You knocked so many damn doors, and I promise I will be here for you every damn day.”

Congresswoman Hoyle

“I can guarantee to all of you that I’m never going to stop fighting for you,” Hoyle declared later. The former UNITE HERE member added: “If you come into my office, I’ve got hard hat stickers from SMART, I’ve got my AFL-CIO posters up — you walk into my office, you know it is a union office.”

SMART members also heard from Local 19 (Philadelphia, Pa.) President and Business Manager Gary Masino, who is currently running for city council to represent Northeast Philadelphia. Masino was born and raised in Northeast Philly — he knows from experience that working people need a champion for their interests in office. As councilmember, he vowed to work tirelessly for safer streets, jobs that pay livable wages and to invest in Philadelphia schools.

“I’m going to fight for labor and do everything I can to make Philadelphia a union town again,” Masino said.