SMART Local 20 (Indianapolis, Ind.) hosted United States Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Indiana Congressman Andre Carson and AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler at its training center on August 31, 2023, where members demonstrated the top-notch training currently bringing hundreds of apprentices into a good, union career.
“We are at the Sheet Metal Workers Local 20 training facility seeing the extraordinary skill building that is happening here,” Buttigieg said during his visit. He also highlighted the $4.6 billion Indiana is receiving in federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, pointing out that that funding is helping spur workforce demands and recruiting efforts for unions like Local 20.
“We were pleased to host Secretary Buttigieg, Congressman Carson and AFL-CIO President Shuler,” said Local 20 Business Manager/Financial Secretary-Treasurer Trent Todd. Local 20 has longstanding relationships with both Buttigieg and Carson, and Shuler has been a longtime advocate of workers and SMART members as leader of the AFL-CIO.
“It was just a way to show off our facility, show them some of the equipment that we’ve purchased with federal grant money, and really demonstrate our commitment to training,” Todd added.
Federal grant money has helped the local purchase a laser welder and plasma table in recent months. And thanks in large part to the influx of funding from federal legislation, a construction boom in the state has helped Local 20 grow its apprenticeship classes at an astounding rate.
“All across Indiana, we’re seeing jobs pop up — from Kokomo, to New Carlisle, to Terre Haute — and these multi-million-dollar facilities are being spurred by the policies of this administration,” Todd explained. “Just as an example of what it’s doing for our numbers: In 2021, we were at 449 apprentices. Currently, we’re at 586, and we’ll be well over 600 apprentices in the first quarter of 2024.”
Importantly, he noted, the ongoing infrastructure and construction surge means that the local will need to continue recruiting and organizing for the long term. Along with job fairs, high school visits, canvassing and yard signs, Local 20 is conducting jobsite blitzes across the state — leaving no stone unturned in its pursuit of further growth, and ensuring working-class Hoosiers know the benefits of a good, union career.
“We’re just trying to get the word out about what we can offer,” Todd concluded. “We’re opening our doors and trying to bring as many people to the table as we can.”