On December 8, 2023, United States President Joe Biden and SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson announced a $6 billion investment in America’s rail infrastructure and in the value of union jobs through two high-speed rail projects in California and Nevada.
“When I ran for president, I made a commitment to build a high-speed rail worthy of America. I mean it — put our nation on track with the fastest, safest and greenest railways in the world, and high-speed,” President Biden said during an announcement event in Las Vegas, Nevada. “You have no idea how much this pleases me: At long last, we are building the first high-speed rail project in our nation’s history, and it’s starting here.
“It means growth and opportunity for towns and communities between here and the California coast. It’s on track to be completed by the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles. And here’s the best part — it means jobs. Union jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs!”
“The idea of high-speed rail has been discussed in this country for decades, and it is beyond exciting to see it coming together here today,” Ferguson added. “Our members, and our brothers and sisters throughout rail labor, should see this as a day when our nation’s president and the country itself recognized our value and what we bring to the table. The skills our conductors, engineers and yardmasters possess were not an afterthought when the plans for this rail line came together. They are invaluable to this project and woven into the fabric of what will make this high-speed rail project a success.”
This project has been years in the making and is becoming a reality now due to the public-private partnership between the federal government and the Brightline West Railroad. In plans submitted to the administration, Brightline highlighted the efficiency of this high-speed rail project, stating that trains will travel at speeds upwards of 186 mph – making it possible to get from Southern California to Las Vegas in just over two hours, a fraction of the time it takes on the highway. Other benefits include taking traffic off the heavily congested U.S. Interstate 15, as well as positive impacts on environmental emissions. This project will also bolster the economies of some of our nation’s largest cities.
As a stipulation for receiving federal funding, Brightline West committed to using an organized workforce. SMART-TD has been part of the planning for this project since the railroad made that commitment to Biden and Congress. Along with employing thousands of our brothers and sisters in the SMART Rail, Mechanical and Engineering Department, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way, Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, TCU and all of our rail labor partners, Brightline West also committed to running their trains with SMART-TD crews.
The project will provide hundreds of good, union jobs in the railroad industry, and it serves as an example of what can be accomplished when private industry, the federal government and a strong labor coalition are all pulling in the same direction.
“It’s a proud day for us, and we thank Congresswoman Dina Titus from Nevada’s First Congressional District, Congressman Steven Horsford from Nevada District 4, Congresswoman Susie Lee from Nevada’s Third District, and Nevada’s U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto, along with the Department of Transportation, and of course, President Joe Biden himself for all of their work to make this dream a reality for our men and women,” Ferguson concluded.
President Joe Biden visited SMART Local 19 (Philadelphia, Pa.) on Labor Day, honoring America’s workforce with sheet metal workers and union members from across the area during the annual Tri-State Labor Day Parade and Celebration. Local 19 apprentice Brittany Rivera introduced the president, telling her story of entering the sheet metal trade, being a working mom and the many benefits Local 19 has afforded her and her young family.
“Being a union member has changed my life,” Rivera said. “I spent 15 years in food service before a friend encouraged me to get in this trade. From him, I saw how a union provides stability, security and a good-paying job to raise my family. … I’m so grateful for Local 19. I know that I belong here.”
“Thanks to President Biden, the most pro-union president in our history, women are realizing that the trades aren’t just for men,” she added. “They’re taking advantage of the opportunities being created thanks to the president’s leadership.”
Biden’s visit to Local 19 — during which he also recognized Philadelphia City Council candidate and Local 19 Business Manager Gary Masino — is a testament to this administration’s real, material support for union workers, said Local 19 Political Director Todd Farally.
“It is always an honor for Local 19 to host the Tri-State Annual Labor Day Parade and Celebration. But this year was a particular privilege for our union,” Farally explained. “President Biden spoke to thousands of union members about all the good work his administration has delivered over these past few years: investing in our infrastructure, rebuilding our manufacturing base and ensuring worker-friendly regulations within federal labor law.”
In his speech, Biden specifically discussed the crucial role SMART sheet metal workers are playing as we build the economy of the future, from complex ventilation systems in chip plants, to fabricating and installing energy-efficient heat pumps.
“The sheet metal workers who used to use hand-drawn blueprints to design ductwork in buildings now use sophisticated, computer-aided design systems so the entire project can be laid out in 3D,” he noted, emphasizing the expert training delivered in our union’s apprenticeship programs.
The president also discussed the importance of investing in working families; something his administration has done through the passage of job-creating laws like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act.
“Decades of handing out excessive tax cuts to the rich and the corporations without making the investments in America and the American people — that had been a bust,” Biden declared. “The long and short of it is we’re making things here in America again with American workers, with American products, in American factories.”
SMART members from across the United States and Canada gathered in Washington, DC on April 25th and 26th for the 2023 North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) Legislative Conference. Throughout the week, workers and elected union leaders came together to push for legislation that prioritizes workers, as well as hear from elected officials, industry stakeholders and others.
The April 25th plenary session began with a keynote address from NABTU President Sean McGarvey, who introduced and emphasized the 2023 conference theme: “Empowering the Infrastructure Generation.”
Unprecedented investment – spurred by pro-worker federal legislation like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, the Inflation Reduction Act and more – is creating tens of thousands of jobs and sparking the renewal of America’s infrastructure. This presents opportunity for the workers of today and tomorrow, McGarvey said, and it’s vital that unions push for legislation like the National Apprenticeship Act to ensure we can train the workforce to meet demand and bring workers of all backgrounds – rural, urban, women, people of color, the formerly incarcerated, veterans and more – into unions like SMART.
“Our model makes sure workers aren’t just trained for a project, but equipped with the highest skillsets for a long and meaningful career,” McGarvey explained. “This is our time to make sure we are building the opportunity pipeline to maximize private investment with public dollars and reach communities large and small.”
McGarvey was followed by various pro-worker officials, including former Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin. Walsh discussed his time working with the Biden administration and the importance of making our voices heard in the halls of power – and the need to spread the word about how pro-labor elected officials are benefiting working families.
“Who you vote for has consequences,” Walsh said. “This is how we restore and expand access to the middle class in this country: through good, union jobs.”
Following Walsh, NABTU Legislative Conference attendees were joined by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, who has overseen a transformative pro-worker shift in the Prairie State – including the passage of the Workers’ Rights Amendment, project labor agreements on more than 1,000 construction projects, a $50 million Illinois Works pre-apprenticeship program and the passage of the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, a pro-worker clean energy law that covers climate infrastructure projects with project labor agreements.
“Workers’ rights are gaining strength,” Pritzker declared. “Supporting workers’ rights is about investing in Illinois’ most precious resource, our nation’s most precious resource: our people.”
Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin has been a steadfast advocate for the union apprenticeship model, recognizing the potential unions have to lift workers of all backgrounds into the middle class. She explained the continued significance of union apprenticeships as policy and technology shift the way the world works, and declared to conference attendees her intent to continue the fight to reauthorize the National Apprenticeship Act.
“There’s one tried and true method that has lasted and stood the test of time, and that’s apprenticeships,” Baldwin said.
The day concluded with a fiery address from President Joe Biden, who took the stage hours after announcing his run for reelection. Throughout his speech, Biden focused on the steps taken by his administration to create an American economy that grows from the bottom up and the middle out – and emphasized that “we need to finish the job.”
“I learned a long time ago: There’s labor, and then there’s UNION labor,” he declared.
Biden explained how his administration’s pro-worker agenda has led to the passage of laws including the American Rescue Plan, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. Together these laws helped protect multiemployer pension plans; invested heavily in HVAC, energy efficiency, production, transit, rail infrastructure and other SMART sectors; created more than 800,000 manufacturing jobs; capped insulin copays at $35 per month for those covered by Medicare; and much more. The president also referred to his executive order requiring project labor agreements on federal projects that cost more than $35 million – a policy that amounts to an investment in union labor.
“I’ve said it many times: Wall Street didn’t build America. The middle class built America, and unions built the middle class,” Biden said.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker speaks at the NABTU Legislative ConferencePresident Joe Biden addresses the NABTU Legislative Conference
“For decades, trickle-down economics hollowed out the middle class. America rewarded wealth, not work. … As jobs were lost, something else was lost as well: a sense of pride, a notion of who you are, a sense of self-worth, earning your way,” he added. “My economic plan is a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America, and that’s what we’re doing: rebuilding America.”
The April 26th plenary saw remarks from a range of bipartisan speakers, including Rep. Nikki Budzinski, Republican Congressmen Don Bacon and Brian Fitzpatrick, Senator Raphael Warnock, Senate Leader Chuck Schumer and others. Once again, the focus was firmly on the future – and how unions like SMART need to ensure we meet the workforce demands of this moment for generations to come. From making sure people of all backgrounds have pathways into union apprenticeships, to passing legislation that helps fund ever-evolving apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs, now is the time to secure our future.
“Thank you for building the strongest and most robust country in the world,” Bacon said during his speech. “You deserve fair wages for a hard day’s work, pensions when you retire and safety at work.”
“You are at the center of America,” Warnock added during his remarks. “We need to hear your voices and countless efforts you’ve made to build this country. As you continue beating that drum, I will keep looking for every opportunity I can to stand up and protect our working people.”
Following the speaking agenda, SMART members joined representatives from the rest of the building trades on Capitol Hill to lobby for legislation that benefits our members.
“At the NABTU Legislative Conference, I had a first-hand view of the way that conditions for the working class have changed under the Biden administration and a Congress filled with pro-worker candidates,” SMART General President Joseph Sellers said. “We will continue to push for pro-labor policies that put our members to work and lift working families up.”
Local 49 Business Manager Isaiah Zemke (right) with President Biden.
SM Local 49 (Albuquerque, N.M.) Business Manager/Financial Secretary-Treasurer Isaiah Zemke took part in a “Communities in Action: Building a Better New Mexico” meeting at the White House on October 7, 2022. The discussion, part of the Biden administration’s “Building a Better America” series, included an overview with leaders from Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado, followed by state-specific sessions.
“They had leaders from each state join – from unions, nonprofits, tribal governments and elected politicians – for a group briefing, followed by individual state roundtables to share stories and discuss amplifying them across our communities and states,” Zemke said, noting that he conducted a survey of Local 49 members prior to the meeting in order to convey members’ thoughts to the administration. “I discussed indoor air quality and how we are partnering with school boards, the state of New Mexico and municipalities [to perform that work.]”
In the group meeting, Zemke and other attendees met with Julie Chavez Rodriguez, senior advisor to President Biden; Steve Rochetti, legislative coordinator; Al Zaidi, White House national climate advisor; Jewel Bronaugh, deputy secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture; Susan Rice, director of domestic policy; and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. Along with conveying members’ messages to the administration, Zemke participated in a discussion on how recent legislation will impact working families in the region.
“It sounds like the plan is to have all 50 states choose leaders to attend similar action plans,” Zemke added.
Watch Zemke discuss his visit to the White House in episode two of SMART News.
In the New Mexico roundtable, Zemke brought up the amount of work that Indoor Air Quality policies and legislation like the CHIPS and Science Act, the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will create for SM Local 49 members, including an Intel plant in Rio Rancho, N.M. He also pointed out the need for high schools to receive funding for CTE programs, ensuring that SMART and other building trades have the workforce pipeline that will be needed to complete the infrastructure work of the future.
Ultimately, the discussion once again proved SMART’s new level of access with the current administration – and the importance of taking advantage in order to strengthen our union.
The White House, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
The outlook for union labor and working families in America has improved drastically in the last 21 months.
From 2016–2020, workers fought against an onslaught of anti-labor policies, executive orders, personnel appointments and more:
Anti-worker government actions, 2016–2020
1.The previous administration and Congress refused to include union pension protection in COVID-19 relief bills.
2.The previous president attempted to devalue SMART/union apprenticeships through expanded management-devised Industry- Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs).
3.The previous president’s FRA administrator refused to implement two-person crew rules and attempted to override state laws with an imposed one-person crew standard.
4.Anti-worker figures were appointed to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), including Peter Robb — a management-side labor lawyer — as general counsel.
5. The former NLRB made it more difficult for workers to picket a subcontractor.
6.The former NLRB held that employers can legally monitor or search employees’ personal vehicles on company premises.
7.The former NLRB issued a decision making it easier for employers to restrict employees’ rights to talk to their coworkers about their union during work time, including asking a coworker to join the union, asking a coworker to vote to strike or asking a coworker to vote to ratify a contract.
8.The former NLRB proposed a rule questioning whether building trades union agreements properly recognize the union as majority representative — even when the agreements contain language that recognizes the union as majority representative. This proposed rule would make it easier for contractors to walk away from the contract after it expires without attempting to negotiate a new agreement.
9.The previous president signed an executive order that threatened funding for Social Security.
10. The previous president’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) responded to the pandemic with temporary guidance that removed most employer responsibility to investigate or record workplace-related coronavirus cases in non-healthcare workplaces — including for essential sheet metal, rail and bus workers.
11.The previous president’s signature law, the Tax Cut and Jobs Acts (TCJA), encouraged offshoring of both paper profits and real production of U.S. multinational companies – hurting workers.
12. The previous president recommended vetoing the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act if it reached his desk.
13.The previous president proposed a 2020 budget that would have cut Department of Labor (DOL) funding and eliminated the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a public-private partnership that helps small- and medium-sized manufacturers (and their workers) compete.
14.The previous administration encouraged firms to misclassify employees as independent contractors, lowering workplace standards and putting union jobs in jeopardy.
15.The previous administration rescinded a rule that required large employers or employers of workers in dangerous occupations to submit detailed logs of workplace injuries and illnesses for OSHA to publish online — making it harder to regulate and prevent further injuries.
16.By revoking an earlier rule, the previous administration made it easier for contractors who violate basic labor and employment laws to be awarded contracts paid for by taxpayer dollars.
17.The former NLRB gave employers more power to prevent organizers and off-duty employees from talking with employees at the workplace, during nonwork time, about forming a union.
18.The previous president’s DOL proposed a rule that would make it easier for employers to use the “fluctuating workweek” method, which better allows companies to avoid paying their workers overtime.
19.The previous administration rolled back child labor laws that regulated teenage use of operator-driven power lifts without supervision.
20. The previous administration proposed a paid parental-only leave plan that would force workers to cut into their Social Security benefits to fund their paid parental leave.
21.The previous administration announced a program that allowed employers who violate wage and hour laws to avoid paying penalties by volunteering to investigate themselves.
22.The previous administration weakened workplace safety protections for offshore drilling workers by eliminating a requirement for third-party inspections of safety measures and equipment, making key safeguards optional and allowing for industry self-policing.
23.The previous administration eliminated workers’ ability to choose who to form a union with, enhancing employers’ ability to manipulate bargaining units by adding in workers they feel would oppose the union.
24.The previous administration and Congress constantly attempted to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, which helps provide better healthcare for families of SMART members.
25.The previous administration delayed and weakened a mine inspection rule, allowing employers to send miners in before inspections are finished and letting operators not record hazardous conditions if they correct them “promptly.”
26.The previous president said he “loved right-to-work,” and his Justice Department successfully argued to make it the standard policy for government employees.
In the 2020 election, working people made their voice heard at the ballot box — and since then, the outlook for SMART members has changed for the better, as your union has constantly pushed the current administration to act on behalf of workers.
Pro-worker government actions, January 2021–Present
1.The current Congress and president passed the American Rescue Plan into law, which jumpstarted the U.S. economy, provided billions of dollars in union pension relief, invested billions into reopening schools and indoor air quality, and allocated $100 million to OSHA for worker safety.
2.The current Congress and president passed the Inflation Reduction Act into law, which will help cut healthcare prices for working families, fight climate change and hold the one percent accountable to pay their fair share in taxes. The IRA invests heavily in green energy infrastructure, with strong labor standards ensuring that SMART sheet metal workers will be in demand for this work.
3.The current Congress and president passed the CHIPS and Science Act, which invests in the U.S. semiconductor industry and American-made manufacturing. SMART sheet metal workers are uniquely qualified for the good, union jobs (constructing and maintaining semiconductor facilities) this legislation will create.
4.The current president and Congress passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which will rebuild our country’s crumbling infrastructure. Along with huge investments in traditional infrastructure like our nation’s railroad and public transportation systems, the law focuses on the industries in which SMART members work — like indoor air quality, energy efficiency and more — providing an enormous number of new jobs in the future.
5.The current House of Representatives passed the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021, which invests in registered apprenticeships while cutting federal funding for anti-union IRAPs. If this bill passes the Senate, the current president will sign it into law.
6.The current president appointed Marty Walsh, a lifetime union member and former president of the Boston Building Trades, to lead the U.S. Department of Labor.
7.The current president appointed Amit Bose as FRA administrator. Bose has consistently welcomed SMART TD to the table and listened to our concerns and perspective on matters that would impact SMART members.
8.Bose’s FRA proposed long overdue federal two-person crew regulations, which would provide much-needed safety and job assurances to our members.
9.Within hours of taking office, the current president fired Peter Robb, the most anti-union general counsel in the NLRB’s history, and appointed a pro-worker NLRB, including Jennifer Abruzzo — formerly the Special Counsel for Strategic Initiatives at the Communications Workers of America — as general counsel.
10.NLRB General Counsel Abruzzo issued a memo urging the NLRB to outlaw anti-union captive audience meetings.
11.NLRB General Counsel Abruzzo has proposed requiring employers to recognize a union once a majority of workers sign pro-union cards, rather than forcing workers to seek recognition via NLRB election or other, more complicated methods.
12.NLRB General Counsel Abruzzo has declared that college athletes have the right to organize, as do immigrant workers in the United States.
13.In its first major decision, the NLRB found that employers violate federal labor law by barring workers from wearing pro-union buttons or other apparel, enshrining workers’ rights to wear pro-worker gear on the job.
14.The current president appointed Doug Parker — former staff attorney for the United Mine Workers of America and executive director of Worksafe, an organization that advocates for workers in the Bay Area — as director of OSHA, returning the agency to its pro-worker role.
15.The current president appointed Jessica Looman, formerly the executive director of the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council, to lead the DOL Wage and Hour Division.
16.The current president issued an executive order repealing the former administration’s IRAP initiative, putting to bed one of the most serious threats the union building trades have faced.
17.The current president approved the environmental impact statement for the Hudson Tunnel Project and restored nearly $1 billion for California High Speed Rail, all of which was blocked by the previous administration. These projects would provide more jobs for SMART members.
18.The FRA released a new fatigue rule that “requires certain railroads to develop and implement a Fatigue Risk Management Program as one component of the railroads’ larger railroad safety risk reduction programs.”
19.The current administration’s OSHA announced a National Emphasis Program (NEP) related to heat and workplace safety. The NEP will prioritize inspections on hot days, target high-risk industries (including construction) and develop a federal rule to protect workers from heat-related illnesses.
20.For the first time in 40 years, the DOL announced a proposed rule updating and strengthening Davis- Bacon and Related Acts (DBRA) prevailing wage regulations.
21.The current White House launched the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge to encourage buildings to improve ventilation. The recommendations specifically noted that skilled, trained and certified workers (SMART members) should perform this work.
22.The current president signed an executive order strengthening Buy American provisions, requiring federal bodies to buy more American-made products and invest in domestic manufacturing.
23.The current president signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors to $15/hour.
24.The current president signed an executive order that gives workers the federally protected ability to refuse dangerous work.
25.The current president signed an executive order establishing the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment, which released 70 recommendations to promote worker organizing and collective bargaining.
26.The current president signed an executive order requiring project labor agreements on large federal projects (costing $35 million or more).
27.The current administration announced over $386 million in consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant program funds to 46 projects in 32 states and the District of Columbia — an investment in rail workers’ safety.
28.In August 2022, the White House launched an initiative to promote better air in buildings, linking to the SMART website for guidance from the experts in this field — a tacit endorsement of SMART workers as the experts qualified to perform indoor air quality work.
29.The current president has openly sided with workers seeking to unionize at Amazon, sought the input of SMART and other unions in relation to construction, transportation and other impactful policy areas, and signed executive orders repealing anti-union rules of the previous administration.
30.The current president initiated student loan debt relief for working families, removing a key barrier for workers and their children as they seek to enter the middle class.
31.Current president and Congress passed and signed the PACT Act, to support veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the first Gulf War, the Vietnam War and a host of smaller deployments across the globe in between those campaigns who suffered from exposure to chemicals and other toxins.
The White House released a back-to-school fact sheet ahead of the new school year, highlighting SMART, SMACNA and NEMI’s collaboration with the White House on improving ventilation in schools. This fact sheet was circulated to school districts across the country and notes that SMART, SMACNA and NEMI are the experts that schools should use for indoor air quality, HVAC, ventilation and energy efficiency improvements and upgrades.
In conjunction, NEMI launched a new website that can facilitate connecting buildings that want to make ventilation and energy efficiency improvements to skilled, trained and certified workers and contractors — SMART and SMACNA members. Ideally this will be a useful resource for schools and other buildings as they try to take advantage of federal funding available for these efforts. If a building owner fills out a form on the NEMI website and requests assistance, they will receive a response within 48 hours to help them identify steps they can take to improve ventilation in their buildings.
SMART hopes these resources will help building owners and/or state and local elected officials access billions of dollars in federal funding approved by the Biden administration to improve ventilation and energy efficiency of buildings.
Two years of pro-worker policy have led to a wealth of opportunity for SMART sheet metal workers, now and into the future. Across the country, companies are once again investing in American manufacturing: building and maintaining facilities for electric vehicle batteries, data centers, semiconductor production and more — all of which require the expertise of SMART members.
I just appreciate SMART leadership and the Biden administration doing what needed to be done to get the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed, because we really needed this in all of our communities to build back the working class.”
SMART Local 83 members have worked for years on a GlobalFoundries chip plant in Malta, N.Y. Now, thanks to the passage of the CHIPS and Science Act, GlobalFoundries is building an entire new building to expand its existing plant — a development Local 83 Business Manager Frank Maguire said will keep members “very busy for the next five to 10 years.” In addition, Local 83 members will help build the first wind turbine facility in the U.S., located in the Port of Albany.
“We have a very bright outlook for sheet metal workers in the Albany, New York area,” Maguire added.
SMART members in the Southwest Gulf Coast region can also look forward to a bounty of new work in the coming years, including a Meta data center ($30 billion of work); a Samsung project ($207 billion of work); a Texas Instruments semiconductor project in Sherman, Texas ($30 billion of work); and the next phase of a Tesla plant.
“This is the most work for our members in 20–25 years, and it’s creating good-paying, union construction jobs,” said SMART Southwest Gulf Coast Regional President Bill Kenyon. “I just appreciate SMART leadership and the Biden administration doing what needed to be done to get the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed, because we really needed this in all of our communities to build back the working class.”
The surge in megaprojects extends beyond the United States’ borders. In Canada, a $4.9 billion battery plant in Windsor, Ontario, will require 10 million pounds of galvanized duct to be manufactured in Toronto. That duct will then be installed by SM Local 235 members in Windsor.
“We’re hoping to get all the sheet metal work on the whole project, plus all the roofing,” said Michael Mahon, business manager/financial secretary-treasurer of the Ontario Sheet Metal Workers and Roofers in Windsor. “It’ll employ anywhere from 300–500 sheet metal workers and roofers.”
And in the Kansas City, Mo. area, SMART Local 2 workers will be called to work on two large data centers in the near future: a two-million-square-foot Meta data center and a $4.9 billion Panasonic battery factory in Kansas. That’s in addition to a biomedical facility in Manhattan, Kansas, to be constructed in conjunction with the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) that Local 2 members have worked on for the last five years. All told, these projects will bring an unprecedented number of jobs to area SMART members.
“We think [the Panasonic project] is going to be one of the largest projects that’s ever been done in Local 2’s jurisdiction,” explained Local 2 Business Manager Greg Chastain.
These megaprojects exemplify the historic progress that SMART has made in the last two years — and we will continue to organize to build our strength as we move into the future.
SMART Local 18 (Wisconsin) members hit the pavement at Milwaukee Laborfest 2022, where they marched with fellow workers, gathered with local and federal leaders and listened to President Joe Biden’s Labor Day address.
“Awesome day!” Local 18 shared on Facebook. “Had many speakers, including the most union-friendly president ever, speak in front of thousands at Milwaukee Labor Fest.”
Local 18 leaders met with Wis. AG Josh KaulLocal 18 members with Sec. of Labor Marty Walsh
Today the United States Department of Labor (DOL) announced a final rule to rescind the Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Program (IRAP), and will instead direct the department’s resources toward registered apprenticeships. The DOL issued this final rule after reviewing the IRAP as required by Executive Order 14016, in which President Biden directed federal agencies to consider rescinding “any orders, rules, regulations, guidelines, or policies” implemented by the previous president’s Executive Order 13801, which promoted IRAPs.
SMART issued the following statement in response:
“We commend the Department of Labor for following through on President Biden’s executive order and recognizing the IRAP initiative for what it was: a bad faith attempt by anti-union contractors and politicians to undermine high-quality union apprenticeship programs and replace them with a watered-down system of certifications. Our registered apprenticeships offer expert training, stellar worker protections and better pay and benefits for workers across the country – no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, creed or place of origin. By rescinding IRAPs and investing instead in registered apprenticeship programs, the Department of Labor has ruled in favor of workers and their ability to find good, union jobs and reliable pathways to the middle class.”
The Final Rule was published in the Federal Register on September 26, 2022 and will go into effect on November 25, 2022. Beginning on the effective date, DOL will no longer recognize Standards Recognition Entities (SREs) or IRAPs.
Today, President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, officially codifying this groundbreaking piece of legislation into law. In response, SMART issued the following statement.
“By signing the Inflation Reduction Act, President Joe Biden has once again acted on his campaign promise to be a president for working Americans. Once implemented, the Inflation Reduction Act will help alleviate rising prices for working families by cutting the cost of healthcare, lowering utility bills and making massive investments in green energy and American manufacturing – all with strong labor standards that will help create good, union jobs. Unlike the past administration, this legislation will see absolutely no tax increases for small businesses and families that makes less than $400,000 a year – instead, corporations will finally be held accountable and pay their fair share. And most importantly for our members, SMART workers will be called upon to take on the green energy jobs that this bill creates. We commend President Biden for signing this bill, and we look forward to meeting its demands.”