Michael Coleman, a longtime SMART member with decades of leadership experience at the local and international level, assumed the position of SMART general president on June 1, 2023, following the retirement of Joseph Sellers on May 31. Coleman was elected general president by the SMART General Executive Council, which in turn was elected by delegates to the 2019 SMART General Convention.
“It is the honor of my lifetime to serve this great union – one that has given myself and my family everything we have,” said Coleman. “General President Sellers has worked tirelessly to position this union for success in the future, from winning pro-worker federal legislation to helping oversee the Green Zone certification of the Sheet Metal Workers National Pension Fund. I look forward to building on his legacy and working to advance SMART members’ priorities.”
Coleman began his career as a SMART sheet metal worker in 1985, when he joined what was then Local 65 in Cleveland, Ohio (Local 65 merged with Local 33 soon after). After graduating into journeyperson status and honing his craft for several years, he ran for election as a member of the local’s executive board. From there, he became business representative, then Local 33 president and business manager in 2012.
At Local 33, Coleman cultivated a reputation for pursuing innovative strategies in order to organize more members, effectively structure benefit and pension plans, provide greater flexibility to members and more. He worked tirelessly to boost the local’s profile throughout northern Ohio and West Virginia and demonstrated a willingness to think outside the box in taking on the challenges our union faces.
Seven years later, Coleman moved to Washington, DC to work as SMART’s director of business and management relations. Shortly after that, General President Sellers asked Coleman to become assistant to the general president, a position in which he served until May 31, 2023. In all, Coleman has more than 20 years of dedicated leadership at the local and international level. 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 and positioning SMART for future success.
During the last decade, SMART members have mobilized to win transformational victories for working families across North America. SMART sheet metal workers are on the forefront of new and pending megaprojects funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, as well as partnering with the Biden administration to perform much-needed indoor air quality work. The union’s political advocacy has helped spark forward progress on regulation related to two-person freight train crews and rail safety, and SMART’s organizing activity led to groundbreaking wins in Alaska, California and beyond. Coleman, who plans to hit the road to meet with SMART members in his first months as general president, vowed to continue this forward progress.
“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,” he said. “When we come together to fight for our jobs, our communities and our families, we cannot be stopped. This is our time, and I will work as hard as I can to help us seize this opportunity.”
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