In January 2024, Belonging and Excellence for All (BE4ALL) announced the winner of its fourth-quarter contest, which asked members to answer the question: Why are you proud to be a SMART union member? For 16-year Local 85 (Atlanta, Georgia) member Matthew Beckham, the contest winner, union pride walks hand-in-hand with the life-changing benefits SMART membership provides, and it’s something he says he wears “daily with pride, integrity and humility.” Read Beckham’s story:
“I started my career in 2007 as a pre-apprentice in Augusta, Ga., at the Sweet Tea project. Fast forward to today – I’m currently an active member, never been late on my dues or even to a job unless running a fever.
“My story is short and sweet: By joining the union in 2007, I have had doors opened to me that would have never been opened if I wouldn’t have taken the leap of faith and cleaned my act up by seizing such a great opportunity for myself and my family. I am currently a safety manager for the best and biggest mechanical contractor in the state of Georgia, McKenney’s. My calling has led me down a safety path, where I have the opportunity to help my brothers and sisters get through problems and challenges in our industry.
“My daughter is the recipient of one of the 2023-2024 scholarship awards from SMART. She has been selected out of 130 other candidates and is the winning one for zone three. She is currently a freshman at Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama.
“To summarize this with grace: Neither myself nor my family would be where we are today if it wasn’t for my local union. The union life has given me countless blessings, and I wear it daily with pride, integrity and humility.”