Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the White House launched its Clean Air in Buildings Challenge to improve indoor air quality in buildings. This is a component of the National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.

The challenge is a call to action and a set of best practices to assist building owners with reducing risks from airborne viruses and other contaminants indoors. The Clean Air in Buildings Challenge highlights a range of recommendations and resources, with significant input from SMART, for improving ventilation and indoor air quality, especially with the risk of spread of COVID-19.

Key actions outlined in the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge include the creation of a clean indoor air action plan, Optimization of fresh air ventilation, the enhancement of air filtration and cleaning, and community engagement, communication and education around the importance of enhanced air ventilation.

In response, SMART issued the following statement.

“We appreciate the continued efforts of the Biden administration to address indoor air quality to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other airborne viruses. Despite its importance, poor ventilation has been a widespread and persistent problem in buildings for decades. Proper ventilation is not only a key to our recovery, but it will also help cut building emissions, lower energy costs, ensure systems are meeting design intent and make buildings safe for occupants. HVAC systems are complicated, but SMART members and our training programs set the standard for the work that is required to ensure buildings are safe and healthy. Recent passage of the American Rescue Plan Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation will help buildings have the resources they need to improve indoor air quality. Employing a skilled, trained and certified workforce to complete this work, is the surest way to ensure federal dollars are used effectively and efficiently to protect public health.”

Today the Department of Labor announced a notice of proposed rulemaking updating the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts (DBRA) regulations. In response, SMART issued the following response.

“We welcome the Department of Labor taking steps to update and modernize the DBRA to reflect advancements in construction technology. This is the first time in 40 years the Department of Labor has performed a comprehensive review of these regulations, and it couldn’t come at a more opportune time. As the Biden administration administers the historic bipartisan infrastructure bill, modernization of the DBRA is necessary to help ensure fair wages and protect workers in the construction industry. We look forward to working with the administration to finalize the rule.”

Washington, D.C. — Today the White House announced its COVID-19 Preparedness Plan. It commits to providing schools and businesses guidance and tools to improve ventilation and air filtration, including a Clean Air in Buildings Checklist that all buildings can use to improve indoor ventilation and air filtration. It also commits to providing schools, businesses, employers and state, local and Tribal governments technical assistance to make ventilation improvements and upgrades using American Rescue Plan funds to help protect workers and building occupants.

SMART issued the following statement in response.

“We commend the Biden administration’s response to prevent, protect against and treat COVID-19 and its prioritization of ventilation and indoor air quality to help move America forward safely. Clean air is critical for our health and well-being, and proper ventilation is an important mitigation measure that can help prevent both COVID-19 and future public health threats. Proper ventilation is not only a key to our recovery, but it will also help cut building emissions, lower energy costs, ensure systems are meeting design intent and make buildings safe for all occupants.

For decades, SMART members and our training programs have set the standard for the work that will be required to improve indoor ventilation and air filtration for all buildings. SMART sheet metal workers are highly skilled, trained and certified to achieve safe indoor air quality and ensure HVAC systems operate properly to improve building energy efficiency and safety. Ensuring buildings hire professionals with proper training and credentials will support and create good union jobs and make sure buildings are safe. We stand ready to support the administration on this effort.”

Washington, D.C. — Following President Biden’s State of the Union address on March 1, 2022, SMART released the following statement:

“The first year of the Biden-Harris administration has produced historic results for working people across the United States. By governing with an economic vision focused on growing the economy from the bottom up and the middle out, President Biden has achieved much-needed victories for working families.

  • Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, the economy has rebounded from a disastrous two years and has achieved its fastest job growth in American history – including the addition of 375,000 manufacturing jobs in just one year.
  • In the last year, companies announced nearly $200 billion in investments for semiconductor, electric vehicle battery, and critical mineral production and manufacturing in the United States.
  • Intel recently announced a new $20 billion factory outside of Columbus, Ohio that will create 7,000 construction jobs and another 3,000 permanent jobs.
  • President Biden is swiftly implementing the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure law (BIL), which will create jobs for SMART members improving indoor air quality in buildings, advance railroad safety and drive demand for the products and services provided by SMART sheet metal workers.

This extraordinary progress is occurring during a long-overdue shift from an outdated and unfair trickle-down approach to one that centers workers, families and small businesses. Now, we call on Congress to support the legislative priorities President Biden outlined during the State of the Union. These include:

  • Building upon the historic economic recovery of the last year by eliminating barriers to good-paying jobs for workers across America. President Biden specifically outlined his support for enacting the Protecting the Right to Organize Act; expanding skills-based hiring and increasing access to registered apprenticeships and training; creating a national comprehensive paid family and medical leave program; and more. Such measures are vital for SMART members and all workers.
  • Strengthening our supply chain, transporting goods faster and cheaper and prioritizing products that are made in America. The last year has already seen exceptional growth in American manufacturing production and employment. President Biden plans to build on the victories already won with the implementation of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding; we call on Congress to supplement those efforts with legislation that encourages competition, innovation and the creation of good, union jobs.
  • Reducing everyday costs for working Americans. President Biden’s American Rescue Plan lowered the cost of health care, expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit and provided hard-earned tax relief for millions of middle-class families through an expanded Child Tax Credit. We echo President Biden’s call for legislation that further lowers everyday expenses for American workers and their families by ensuring that corporations and the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share.
  • Promoting fair competition to lower prices, protect consumers and help small businesses. In his State of the Union address, President Biden announced the Biden-Harris Administration’s intent to lower prices for Americans and businesses by combatting unfair ocean shipping practices – launching a new Federal Maritime Commission and Department of Justice initiative to promote competition in the ocean freight transportation system, increasing federal oversight of global ocean shipping and more.

Finally, SMART commends the president for pledging to address the ongoing health emergencies facing the American people. By committing to improving the safety of nursing homes and protecting residents and health care workers from bad actors, the Biden-Harris Administration again demonstrates its dedication to safeguarding the lives of our loved ones. And with his stated whole-of-government strategy to take on America’s national mental health crisis – which has had tragic consequences in the building trades – President Biden once again demonstrated his loyalty to SMART members, their families and all American workers.”

Washington, D.C. — Today President Biden nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. In response, SMART issued the following statement.

“We commend President Biden’s historic nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court. Her experience, credentials, dedication to public service and commitment to the rule of law illustrate that she will safeguard the rights and freedoms of working people. While serving as an appeals court judge, Judge Jackson issued a ruling ending a Trump administration policy that restricted collective bargaining rights of public-sector workers. The U.S. Supreme Court should reflect the diversity of the communities that it serves, and this nomination is an important step in helping achieve a fair judicial system. We urge the Senate to swiftly confirm her nomination.”

President Joe Biden signed on Nov. 15 the Infra­structure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) that will expand work opportunities for Union sheet metal workers rebuilding America’s schools and public buildings as well as boost U.S. passenger rail service, lead to improved safety measures for bus and transit operators and adjust how freight rail safety is han­dled by the Federal Railroad Administration.

The bill provides $1.2 tril­lion in funding for infrastruc­ture, with a large proportion of the funding going directly to the industries SMART represents. This bill=union jobs for SMART members.

“Our union was proud to stand with President Biden today to sign this historic bill into law. It will create an unprecedented number of good, union jobs and put SMART sheet metal workers to work improving indoor air quality in our schools and in commercial and residential buildings. It also makes long-overdue railroad safety improve­ments and will help school districts across the country buy clean, American-made, zero-emission buses that will drive demand for the prod­ucts and services provided by SMART members,” union leadership stated after the bill’s signing, which was attended by SMART General President Joseph Sellers as well as five members from across the mid-Atlantic who were invited to the ceremony.  These included  SMART TD D.C. Legislative Director Jarad Jackson of Local 1933 (Washington, D.C.), SMART TD Local 610 (Balti­more, Md.) Chairperson Michael Harbin, Kalima Ramsay from SM Local 100 (Washington, DC), along with fellow Local 100 members Mike Moran and Rolando Javier Montoya Garzona.

President Biden made one of his principal promises the pledge to rebuild America’s infrastructure after years of neglect. This legislation proves his Administration is delivering on this promise. However, this is only the start.

Now we’re working with his administration to implement the bill. Every SMART local must work at the local and state level to help with implementation of the bill to secure the work and make sure funding from the bill results in jobs for SMART members.

And there is the potential for even more union jobs. Another $1.75 infrastructure bill is pending that would deliver thousands of additional jobs. It’s now up to all of us to do our part to make sure Congress acts and passes this second bill quickly. America should have world-class infrastructure built by skilled union workers and it must be done quickly so the nation can catch up to its competitors on the global stage and once again set the precedent other nations follow. Text the word PASS to 67336 to let your Senators know the importance of investing in America’s workers by addressing the nation’s infrastructure. (message and data rates may apply).

Important Highlights of This Historic Infra­structure Investment and Jobs Act and How It Impacts SMART Members are Listed Below:

  • Energy Efficiency & HVAC upgrades:
    • $250 million to be used for energy efficiency revolving loan fund, which can be spent on indoor air quality in commercial and residential buildings.
    • $50 million for an energy efficiency pilot program for non-profit buildings to conduct energy efficiency upgrades, including HVAC systems.
    • $500 million for school energy efficiency that can be used to upgrade ventilation.
    • $40 million for an energy audit training program to train individuals to conduct energy audits or surveys of commercial and residential buildings.
    • $250 million in grants for federal buildings to improve energy performance targets.
  • Electric school buses:
    • $5 billion for the replacement of existing school buses with zero emission and clean school buses
  • Registered apprenticeship/workforce development:
    • $10 million for career skills training programs where students concurrently receive classroom instruction and on the-job training for the purpose of obtaining an industry related certification to install energy efficient buildings technologies.
    • $15 million for a pilot program to restore, retrofit and construct eligible transportation facilities. The grants should employ residents impacted by the project through targeted hiring programs, in partnership with registered apprenticeship programs and contract and subcontract with disadvantaged business enterprises.
    • Requires at least 5% of grants for buses and bus facilities is used for workforce development, including registered apprenticeship programs.
    • $550 million for industrial research and assessment to maximize energy efficiency. Registered apprenticeship programs qualify to receive the funding.
  • Transportation funding:
    • $6B for Northeast Corridor Grants
    • $16B for the National Network
    • $36B for Fed-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail, with $24B set aside for the Northeast Corridor
    • $5B for CRISI
    • $3B for Railroad Crossing Elimination Program
    • $50M for Restoration and Enhancement
  • Amtrak Reforms:
    • Amtrak Mission Statement, Sec 22201: Amtrak’s mission is modified to better reflect the primary goal of providing quality service, including eliminating references to “justifying expending public money.”
    • Amtrak Food and Beverage, Sec, 22208: Eliminates harmful language on food and beverage revenues that stunted growth of Amtrak on board options and sought to ultimately reduce or eliminate on board service and creates a new food and beverage working group that includes labor participation.
    • Amtrak Quality Jobs, Sec 2213: Prohibits contracting out of work if employees who can perform that work are currently furloughed.
    • Station Agents, Sec. 22203: Requires Amtrak to staff station agent positions at stations that receive certain levels of traffic.
    • Critical Incident Stress Plans, 22424: Amtrak and commuter rail employees who are victims of assault must now be covered by critical incident stress plans, and the benefits and protections provided by such plans.
    • Long Distance Trains, Sec. 22210: Increases the difficulty for Congress to eliminate a long-distance route.
  • Rail Safety:
    • Train Length, Sec. 22422: Requires a National Academies study on the safety of trains longer than 7,500 feet.
    • FRA Reporting Requirements, Sec. 22421: requires FRA accident reports to include information on train length and number of cars as well as the size of the crew on board. Additionally, increases transparency for regulatory waiver requests, including requested suspensions of rules.
    • FRA Accident and Incident Investigations, Sec. 22417: DOT must create a process to better involve stakeholders, including rail labor representatives, in its investigations.
    • PTC Failures, Sec. 22414: requires a quarterly report on failures and functions of positive train control technology. This includes cutouts, malfunctions, and enforcements where an accident was actually prevented.
  • Buy America Provisions:
    • Limit federal financial grants to infrastructure projects that only use iron, steel, manufactured products, and construction materials that are produced in the U.S.
    • Direct the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to establish a Made in America Office that President Biden established with an executive order in January.
    • Require the Secretary of Commerce, the United States Trade Representative, and the Director of OMB to assess impacts of all U.S. free trade agreements, World Trade Organization Agreements on Government Procurement, and federal permitting processes on the operation of Buy American laws and include their impacts on the implementation of domestic procurement preferences within 150 days.
    • Require the OMB Director along with the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council, to issue guidance to standardize how federal agencies comply with and enforce the Buy American Act within one year.
    • Include a Sense of Congress that the FAR Council should increase the domestic content requirements for domestic end products and domestic construction material to 75%, or in the event of no qualifying offers, 60%. President Biden issued an executive order that aligns with this provision in January. In addition, there was a notice of proposed rulemaking in July, to gradually raise the domestic content threshold from 55 to 75% over five years.
    • Establish a centralized online hub ( that would contain information on all waivers and exceptions to Buy American laws that have been accepted, requested, or granted to increase the transparency of the waiver process.
    • Make the Buy America requirement permanent for Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds (DWSRF), a program that provides loans and grants to fund water infrastructure improvements. $23.4B for DWSRF is provided in the bill overall.