Each year in April, SMART members travel to Washington, DC, to gather with fellow trade unionists for the North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) Legislative Conference: a week for union members to forge alliances with pro-worker politicians, lobby for laws that benefit workers and strategize for a future that puts SMART to work. This year’s conference was no different; with a theme of “Foundations for the Future,” SMART local and International leaders spent April 21-24 working to secure a better tomorrow for working-class people across North America.

Tuesday: pro-worker allies demonstrate commitment, attendees hit the pavement in workshops

Tuesday’s conference began with a jam-packed plenary session, where attendees heard from government officials whose actions – not just their words – have benefited SMART members and families.

President Sean McGarvey speaks during the NABTU Legislative Conference

During his keynote address, NABTU President Sean McGarvey described the extraordinary difference building trades unions make in the lives of ALL workers across North America, from the apprentices who come from poverty and earn a union-made pathway into the middle class, to the workers building our nation’s transition to a green economy. He also outlined the progress unions have made in recent years: pro-worker laws that invest in our industries, an executive order from President Joe Biden requiring project labor agreements on large-scale federal construction jobs, permitting reform and expanded prevailing wage protections that raise pay for construction workers, to name just a few.

“Behind every policy win, behind every investment win, there are real workers’ lives at stake,” McGarvey reminded the capacity crowd. “We cannot back down, we cannot slow down – we must keep fighting.”

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has been stridently pro-worker throughout his time in office, signing laws that establish air ventilation programs for public schools (with strong labor standards attached to create jobs for SMART Local 10 members); implement the most expansive prevailing wage enhancements in state history and the largest increase ever to the Minnesota work compensation system’s permanent partial disability fund; ban anti-union captive audience meetings; and much more (including a two-person freight train crew law).

“It’s not about winning races so you can get more political capital to go out and win another race,” he declared. “You win races so you can burn the hell out of that political capital to improve people’s lives.”

Walz described how desperately needed repairs to the Blatnik bridge that connects Duluth, Minnesota, to Superior, Wisconsin, can finally be made thanks to funding from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. But that funding – and the union jobs it has already created – can disappear in an instant, he warned attendees. Only with pro-union policies and policymakers can unions like SMART continue to benefit workers across the United States.

“Vote your values, stand together — if we do that, we truly are building the foundations of the future,” Walz concluded.  

Acting United States Labor Secretary Julie Su – along with her immediate predecessor, Marty Walsh – has been one of the most pro-union leaders of the Department of Labor since the 1940s, and she showed it with her appearance at the NABTU Legislative Conference. Throughout her speech, Su referred to the union apprentices and journeypersons she has met across the country, including SMART members in Cleveland, Ohio, and Kokomo, Indiana. Those workers, she said, are experiencing the life-changing benefits of federal investment in union jobs and American industry.

“We’re not just talking about jobs. We’re talking about careers. We’re talking about building intergenerational wealth,” Su said. “That is what’s possible when we invest in workers.”

In her still-young tenure at the Department of Labor, Su has implemented regulations that finalize President Biden’s executive order requiring PLAs on large federal projects – which means there are an estimated 100 PLA-covered jobs now breaking ground – updated prevailing wage regulations to increase pay for construction workers nationwide and more. From strong labor requirements in the laws funding new megaprojects to increased protections of union-won jobsite standards, she noted, union members and families are reaping the benefits of pro-union policy. And she commended unions like SMART for committing to extending those benefits to women, people of color, the formerly incarcerated and beyond.

Day one attendees also heard from Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb, Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs and Jeff Peoples, chairman, president and CEO of the Alabama Power Company. Bibb has worked hand in hand with the Cleveland Building and Construction Trades to implement federal funding in a way that puts union members to work improving the city, and he vowed to continue that partnership to create a prosperous, resilient city for ALL Clevelanders. Frerichs, meanwhile, has long been an advocate for unions in Illinois – and he has leveraged his position as state treasurer to come up with innovative strategies to benefit workers in his state. By using policy to create a state fund for infrastructure investment and joining with pension funds to push for labor considerations for investors, Frerichs said, states beyond just Illinois can ally with union members.

“We may not win every fight, but we aren’t afraid to sit across the table from CEOs to make sure they use skilled labor,” he declared.

And Peoples, the son of a coal miner with a long appreciation for organized labor, detailed how working with the building trades has helped develop jobs, innovation and reliable power sources in the South: “If we’re going to build in Alabama, we’re going to build it with you, we’re going to build it with union labor.”

Attendees spent the afternoon in various workshops, networking with fellow trade unionists to pursue organizing, legislative and investing strategies that build power for union members. In the capital strategies and organizing workshop, attendees heard from a panel that included asset managers, a union organizer and an investigative journalist, who each spoke to different aspects of private equity’s power in American society – and how unions can work together to pressure hedge funds and managers into adopting strong labor principles.

Panelists take a question during the capital strategies and organizing workshop.

In a session on military service members’ rights, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) educational benefits and Helmets to Hardhats, attendees learned about the laws and benefits protecting servicemembers and veterans — and how to put those laws and benefits to work in JATCs.

And SMART General President Emeritus Joseph Sellers moderated a panel on investing in commercial real estate with leaders from Ullico and the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust (HIT), diving deep on questions of commercial real estate and detailing how investing in labor-forward companies can reap dividends for everyone. One example: the AFL-CIO’s investment in housing construction, which creates union jobs and yields a return on investment for union funds.

On Tuesday night, SMART local officers and International staff gathered for the annual SMART Political Action League (PAL) reception, where SMART General President Michael Coleman awarded plaques to the 31 local unions whose members donated the most, per capita, to the PAL fund – helping SMART support politicians who work to create jobs and protections for union sheet metal workers.

Wednesday: demonstrating our political power, lobbying for more

Attendees came together on the final day of the NABTU Legislative Conference to hear from governmental allies on the federal, state and municipal level, and to lobby Congress to pass pro-worker policy that creates union jobs and benefits our members.

The morning began with a fireside chat with U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Administrator Robin Carnahan, whose implementation of strong labor standards for projects related to federal facilities has put SMART members to work across the country. As the manager of federal government properties, acquisitions and more, the GSA is one of the largest players in the country when it comes to building, maintaining and retrofitting buildings, and as a pro-labor official, Carnahan has strived to ensure that work is performed using union workforces. She and NABTU President McGarvey discussed, among other things, the value of project labor agreements and how federal legislation provides the money GSA needs to put union members to work on “greening our federal carbon footprint.”

“Project labor agreements are just good business,” Carnahan declared.

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Jennifer Granholm also spoke to attendees on Wednesday, outlining the ways in which the department is implementing funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS and Science Act to pursue a decisively pro-union green energy policy. Thanks in large part to the public and private clean energy jobs breaking ground every day, Granholm said, construction employment is at its highest level in recorded history.

“These jobs are the result of a focused, strategic plan; a new industrial revolution is taking shape,” she told attendees. “It is historic, and your labor unions had a hand in shaping this strategy every step of the way. These wins belong to you.”

Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO and a longtime fighter for SMART members, took the podium to talk about labor’s resurgence — and the importance of maintaining a policy platform that makes it possible for unions to organize, build, grow and win. From a pro-labor National Labor Relations Board to updates to prevailing wages and job-creating laws, she said, it is more vital than ever to vote for union members’ interests in November.

“It does not matter which craft you are in, people respect the building trades,” Shuler declared. “People recognize that you are the ones that build our nation. … Finally, people recognize that the labor movement is the place to build power.”

And on the state and municipal level, Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson, Scranton, Pa., Mayor Paige Cognetti, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro and Maryland Governor Wes Moore detailed the myriad ways in which pro-labor policy is extending from the federal scope to benefit union members in states and cities with a shared pro-worker outlook.

Johnson explained how Milwaukee works hand in hand with Wisconsin building trades workers to build a better city for residents, from huge residential projects — funded in part by the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust — to core infrastructure (much of it made possible by money from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act).  

“[The building trades] are working to make sure that they represent the interests of their members, yes, but those interests also coincide with what’s best for the city; what’s best for residents all across Milwaukee,” he said.

Cognetti, meanwhile, discussed how unions in Pennsylvania are helping lift workers in Scranton into the middle class — again, boosted by funding from federal legislation. Through workforce navigation money from the American Rescue Plan and infrastructure funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Scranton is helping lead people to apprenticeship programs and putting members to work on core public works projects. Plus, Cognetti’s administration has instituted strong labor standards in the city: Any $25,000-plus project funded by the city or the state government pays a prevailing wage, and Cognetti is proposing a responsible contractor ordinance this spring.

Maryland Gov. Moore detailed his long personal history with the labor movement, starting when his father died when he was three years old — and his father’s union paid for the funeral. Decades later, Moore talked about the importance of investing in apprenticeship programs and putting union members to work on infrastructure projects — particularly as the state mourns the deaths of six construction workers in the devastating Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore. That bridge, he said, will be rebuilt with union labor. And moving forward, he vowed, Maryland will continue to invest in its workers.

“When people say that you have to somehow choose between having a growing economy and a fair one, it’s a false choice. We don’t have to choose, because we can and we will have both,” Moore declared.

And Shapiro, a longtime friend of SMART Local 19, Local 12 and Local 44, went long on his relationship with organized labor and how working with the union building trades has helped Pennsylvania accomplish incredible things — not the least being the repair of the I-95 highway collapse in just 12 days in 2023. Shapiro, who issued a directive to all agencies in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania to use project labor agreements whenever possible (a directive that went into effect April 1), explained how policies like responsible contractor ordinances and PLAs benefit workers, high-road contractors and the building tradespeople of the future. And in order to benefit those future trades workers, Shapiro told NABTU, he signed an executive order to create a first-in-the-nation initiative to invest up to $400 million in federal funding to train up to 10,000 new workers in Pennsylvania.

“We are giving every Pennsylvanian the freedom to chart their own course and the opportunity to succeed,” Shapiro said to a standing ovation. “We have a tremendous opportunity right now – and the progress we make is going to run right through your union halls.”

The conference’s final plenary session concluded with a speech from President Biden, who just that morning received NABTU’s endorsement in the United States presidential race. Biden drew a stark contrast between the anti-worker actions of 2016-2020 — a union-busting NLRB, a promised “infrastructure week” that never arrived and more — with the progress workers have made since 2021: 51,000 projects started since the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law; 15 million jobs created; an executive order requiring project labor agreements on federal jobs that cost more than $35 million; Davis-Bacon updates that expand prevailing wages for construction workers; and the repealing of Trump’s proposed Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs) rule, to name a few.

“Trump promised us an infrastructure week, but I’ll tell you: In four years, he didn’t build a damn thing,” Biden said.

With a pro-worker majority in Congress, more is possible, Biden added, calling for the passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.  

“It’s just beginning,” he proclaimed. “Roads, bridges, ports, airports, clean water systems, available high-speed Internet all across America and built by the building trades.”

Following President Biden’s speech, SMART members and trades workers departed for Capitol Hill, where they met with legislative staffers to push Congress to act on our behalf. And as attendees returned to their home locals over the following days, they carried the message resounding throughout the conference halls to union members across the country: We need to advocate for our interests, at the ballot box and beyond, to secure our collective future.

SMART members in New Jersey at a Passaic Central Labor Council labor walk.
SMART members in New Jersey at a Passaic Central Labor Council labor walk.

This election cycle, SMART members across sheet metal and the Transportation Division flexed their muscles at the ballot box, helping elect union-friendly candidates across the United States. That includes SMART members who ran for office themselves, pledging to pursue policy that supports working families.

In New Jersey, the SMART New Jersey State Council endorsed a bipartisan group of pro-labor candidates that won big. Johnnie Whittington of Local 27 (southern New Jersey) won his election to the East Windsor Township Council, while Glen Kocsis — also from Local 27 — won re-election to the Neptune City Council: putting the voice of SMART workers in powerful positions to benefit their union brothers and sisters.

“So far this election cycle, 82% of our labor candidates have won their elections,” said Joseph Demark, Jr., president of the New Jersey State Council for Sheet Metal Workers, president and business manager of Local 25 (northern New Jersey) and executive board member of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO. “Together, we made the difference and won!”

In Kentucky, SMART members endorsed and helped re-elect Andy Beshear as governor. His victory is a big win for workers — during his first term, he made Kentucky the battery manufacturing capital of America, and he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with union members from the picket line to the governor’s office. Thanks in no small part to Beshear’s leadership, SMART members are seeing an extraordinary amount of work in the Bluegrass State — and our union is growing as a result.

Up and down the ballot, in races across the country, SMART members fueled a score of impressive victories. Warren Faust, SMART International representative and former business manager of Local 44 (northeastern Pennsylvania), won re-election to the Wilkes-Barre School Board. And in Virginia, workers marched to the ballot box to help pro-union candidates take the state House and Senate, putting advocates for working families in control of policymaking.

Ultimately, 2023 reiterated the importance of the union vote. Election Day reminds all legislators: When you stand with union members, union members stand with you.

“From door-knocking, to phone-banking, to peer-to-peer text messaging, we showed the power of our vote,” said SMART-TD Virginia State Legislative Director Ronnie Hobbs. “When we stand together as one, there is NOTHING that can stop us in our tracks.”

As union workers, we know elections have consequences. That’s why SMART members spent the weeks leading up to Election Day 2022 working tirelessly to support candidates, ballot measures and policy initiatives that empower the working class. From sheet metal and Transportation Division members in Nevada to Local 17 workers in Boston — and well beyond — rank-and-file members joined local leaders to hit the phones, the doors and the pavement to secure our future.

That hard work paid off.

In my hometown of San Diego, SMART Local 206 members led the charge with other building trades unions to inform community members about voting “yes” on Ballot Measure D, which eliminated the city’s ban on project labor agreements. The “Yes on D” campaign brought together unions across crafts and trades to achieve a transformative win that will improve the lives of construction workers and local families for years to come.

In Pennsylvania, members knocked on doors, marched in parades and talked to their coworkers about the importance of electing pro-worker candidates who will stand against so-called “right to work” laws that damage our ability to collectively bargain. And on election night, Pennsylvania elected pro-worker candidates Josh Shapiro as governor and John Fetterman to the Senate — giving SMART members two fierce allies at the state and federal levels.

Illinois members teamed up with other unions to support the Workers’ Rights Amendment, which added a new section to the Illinois state Bill of Rights guaranteeing workers’ fundamental right to organize, to bargain collectively, to negotiate wages, hours and working conditions, and to promote their economic welfare and safety at work.

In Kansas, the SMART Transportation Division facilitated a top-to-bottom electoral campaign that saw Governor Laura Kelly re-elected and ousted an attorney general who opposed two-person crews.

A divided America is not good for any of us. We must continue to work hard to educate our members and legislators from both sides of the aisle about good, safe jobs that help Americans live the American dream.

And in Minnesota, Arizona, Nevada and Georgia, SMART members and families turned out in force to elect Governor Tim Walz, Senator Mark Kelly, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and Senator Raphael Warnock.

These victories will give SMART members across our nation something better than a voice: elected officials who act on our behalf.

Unfortunately, we were not successful in retaining a majority consisting of candidates that fought for workers’ rights in the House. We have already seen the chaos and gridlock a divided Congress can create, and there is no doubt these officials will attempt to roll back some of the gains that have been made over the past two years. But thanks to our strong showing on November 8th, we have allies in office who will side with us against those attacks.

A divided America is not good for any of us. We must continue to work hard to educate our members and legislators from both sides of the aisle about good, safe jobs that help Americans live the American dream.

I want to thank you for your votes. Your advocacy will make the difference for working people across our country in the years to come.

In solidarity,

Joseph Powell
SMART General Secretary Treasurer

Thanks to multiemployer pension relief included in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, approximately 1,600 SMART members in the Sheet Metal Workers Pension Fund based in Massillon, Ohio will have their pension cuts fully restored, including full earned benefit in their monthly checks moving forward.

“This is definitely going to solve our problem,” SMART Local 33 (northern Ohio) Business Rep. Jerry Durieux told local newspaper The Repository. “This is hope for the future, that’s for sure.”

Unions and pro-labor politicians had been pushing for multiemployer pension security – in the form of a special financial assistance fund – for years, with Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown introducing it in the Butch Lewis Act multiple times since 2017. Only once a pro-worker majority and presidential administration assumed elected office could the Act – named after a legendary Ohio Teamster – be passed into law as part of the American Rescue Plan. Together with other provisions in the legislation, including funding for indoor air quality, the American Rescue Plan is already proving to be one of the most groundbreaking laws ever passed for working Americans.

“After years of advocacy by workers, retirees, and small business owners in Ohio, Democrats in Congress and this Administration finally saved the pensions that union workers in Massillon earned over a lifetime, with no cuts,” said Senator Brown in a press release announcing the pension relief. “This pension fix will help local workers and the small businesses they work with to grow and continue providing living wages and dignified work for Ohioans.”

Funding from the legislation has already saved 550,306 pensions nationwide, with millions more eligible. Furthermore, along with pension restoration for retirees, pension protection funding in the American Rescue Plan will put the Ohio Sheet Metal Workers Pension Fund on the path to solvency going forward – helping to secure the future benefits of active SMART sheet metal workers.

SMART Transportation Division members are reminded that legislative representative and alternate legislative representative elections are scheduled to be held this autumn, with nominations to be taken in October and elections conducted in November.
Locals must solicit for the nomination of candidates in October seeking the four-year legislative offices. Those eligible to hold office as a legislative representative or alternate legislative representative must be qualified voters, meaning they are registered to vote in public elections. The duties of a legislative representative are listed in SMART Constitution Article 21B, Section 66.
Members are also reminded that any existing local vacancies should be addressed during these elections.
Local secretaries and secretary and treasurers should take steps now to ensure their records reflect accurate membership listings and mailing addresses.
As per the constitution’s Article 21B, Section 57, nomination meetings must be held in October, with election tabulations conducted in November. Winning candidates generally will assume their offices on Jan. 1, 2020. Those filling a vacancy, however, take office immediately.
SMART Constitution Article 21B, Section 58, contemplates an installation ceremony for officers named in Article 21B, Section 56. Elected officers who must present themselves at a regular or special meeting for installation within 60 days following their election include president, vice president, secretary, treasurer (or secretary-treasurer), and trustees. Section 58 does not apply to LCA officers, delegates, alternate delegates, legislative representatives or alternate legislative representatives.
In most cases, candidates must garner a simple majority of valid votes cast to win election to a Transportation Division office. (A simple majority can be thought of as 50 percent of votes, plus at least one more vote.) In the case of the Board of Trustees (or any other ballot position where voters are instructed to pick more than one of the candidates listed), winning candidates must obtain a majority of the ballots cast.

The process begins

For the local’s secretary or secretary and treasurer, the election process begins with an effort to update the membership roster, ensuring accurate addresses are on file for each member. Our constitution requires each member to keep the local secretary and treasurer advised of his or her current home address. At the same time, U.S. Department of Labor regulations and the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) require the local to take steps to update addresses in advance of an election.
Members can update their address by contacting their local secretary, secretary and treasurer, or treasurer, or can do so themselves through the TD website.


The local secretary must post a notice at least 10 days in advance of the October nomination meeting indicating when and where nominations for affected positions will take place. The notice should include which positions are open for nominations, and should indicate how nominations can be made, especially by those who cannot attend the nomination meeting. Notices should be placed in as many locations as needed to ensure it can reasonably be concluded that all members had an opportunity to see the notices.
All locals have been mailed instructional packets that include samples of the nomination notices which must be conspicuously posted where it can be reasonably calculated to inform all affected members. While nomination notices are not required by law to be mailed directly to all affected members, in light of recent court rulings, it is highly recommended that the postcards available for this purpose be obtained from the TD Supply Department and mailed to all members.
Nominations may be made by any member in good standing from the floor at the nomination meeting. Nominations do not require being seconded. Any member may self-nominate. If a member wishes to self-nominate or nominate someone else, but can’t attend the meeting, nominations can be entered through a petition. A nomination petition must state the name of the nominee, the position for which the member is being nominated, and must carry at least five signatures of dues-paying members in good standing. No nominations can be accepted following the close of the nomination meeting. A nominee need not be in attendance at the nomination meeting for the nomination to be valid.
If only one member is nominated for a position, that member can be declared elected by acclamation.
Members in E-49 status are eligible to run for office, but they cannot make nominations and they cannot vote. If elected, acceptance of pay from the company or the union creates a dues obligation.
In all cases, a notice of the election must be mailed to all members, including those in E-49 status (but not including retirees). If your local is conducting its election by mail, the mailed ballots can serve as the required notice of election, but such ballots must be mailed at least 15 days in advance of the date of tabulation and must be mailed to those in E-49 status. (The tellers will determine on the day of tabulation whether a member is in E-49 status and his or her vote should be counted.) The Department of Labor does not count the day of mailing as part of that 15-day window, but it does count the day of tabulation.
Those conducting floor votes can obtain postcards notifying members of the time, date and place of the election from our Supply Department. These notices must be mailed at least 15 days in advance of the date of tabulation.


To be eligible to vote, all dues and assessments must be paid within the time frame specified by the constitution. Article 21B, Section 49, indicates dues are to be paid in advance, before the first day of the month in which they are due. Eligibility to make nominations is similar. This means, for example, for a nomination meeting in October, the nominator must have paid all dues obligations prior to October 1. To vote in November, the voter must have paid all dues obligations prior to November 1.

More information

Members are encouraged to consult Article 21B of the SMART Constitution for information regarding elections. Unless an item within Article 21B directs you to a further stipulation outside of Article 21B, only the provisions found within Article 21B are applicable to Transportation Division elections. The local election process is addressed directly by Article 21B, Section 57.
Members can consult their local officers to examine the election guidance material distributed by this officer, or they can visit the S&T Tools page on the TD website and scroll down to the election guidance materials.


There are many provisions not covered by this article, including those which address candidates’ rights and permitted means of campaigning. Those with election questions are urged to call the TD office at 216-228-9400.

By UTU International President Mike Futhey – 

For UTU members employed in the airline, rail and transit industries, the Obama/Biden victory and U.S. Senate election results translate to:

* More, and more secure, transportation jobs.

* More support to increase funding for public transit, Amtrak, and high-speed and higher-speed rail.

* Strengthened protections of collective bargaining rights and the right to organize the unorganized.

* Assurance of a safer workplace.

* Protection of Social Security, Railroad Retirement and Medicare programs as we know them.

* Retention of the Affordable Care Act’s provisions that allow children to remain on your health insurance policy until age 26, prohibit insurers from limiting maximum patient care payments to those with serious chronic illnesses, prohibit denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, prohibit copays for certain preventive care procedures, and require insurance carriers to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on patient care.

Moreover, continued control of the U.S. Senate by labor-friendly Democrats better ensures that presidential nominations to federal regulatory agencies are more likely to be approved, and that anti-labor legislation passed by the House of Representatives more likely will be blocked by the Senate.

We have many contacts within the Obama administration who understand the concerns and needs of transportation workers.

A few of the most outrageous members of Congress were defeated. Our National Legislative Office and state legislative departments look forward to working with the new Congress to help resolve the major issues facing our nation. We will continue to deliver a clear and consistent message to all members of Congress.

The vote re-electing President Obama and Vice President Biden was a clear victory for the middle class over the privileged landed gentry’s candidate, who was out of touch with working families.

We will continue to develop good working relationships with the leadership of Congress on both sides of the aisle, and our partners in the rail and public transit industries to grow our transportation alternatives with improvements in rail passenger service, rail freight service and all public transportation services.

We are thankful that many of our friends in the Republican leadership in the House were returned to office.

The most important function of a labor union is to advance the job security, wages, benefits, working conditions, and retirement security of its members. The re-election of Barack Obama and Joe Biden, and the continued labor-friendly control of the Senate, will help to advance those objectives.

Conservative Republicans Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are committed to repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Conservative Republicans also are committed to privatizing Social Security and turning Medicare into a voucher program with more costs coming out of retirees’ pockets. By contrast, President Obama is committed to preserving Social Security and Medicare as we know it.

When it comes to collective bargaining rights, conservative Republicans Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have publicly congratulated the conservative Republican governors of Wisconsin and Ohio who pushed to curtail and eliminate those rights – especially for public employees. Contrast that attack on collective bargaining rights with the Democratic Party platform position, which is also the Obama/Biden position:  

“Democrats believe that the right to organize and collectively bargain is a fundamental American value; every American should have a voice on the job and a chance to negotiate for a fair day’s pay after a hard day’s work. We will continue to fight for the right of all workers to organize and join a union.”

We in the transit industry have held our own in these difficult economic times because the Obama administration and our labor-friendly allies in Congress – labor-friendly Republicans as well as Democrats — fought to preserve transit funding. We know what would happen to transit funding if conservative Republicans control the White House and Congress, as they have made clear they would reduce transit funding.

Had conservative Republicans been the majority in the Senate as well as the House, many of our bus operations would have been privatized, our collective bargaining rights would have been curtailed, and our wages, benefits and work rules would be in jeopardy.

All brothers and sisters in organized labor face attack by conservative Republicans. On Election Day, we must take the time and effort to cast our ballots – and encourage others to cast their ballots – to return President Obama and Vice President Biden to the White House and cast ballots for the labor-friendly candidates. A listing of labor friendly candidates is provided by clicking the following link and scrolling down to “Congressional endorsements”:


This election is about saving our middle class. Let us stand strong against those corporate-backed candidates who want to destroy labor unions and curtail worker collective bargaining rights. Our job security, pay checks, health care and retirement are at stake.

By International President Mike Futhey

What do the Nov. 2 congressional election results mean for UTU members and their families?

Consider these facts that are not always obvious:

  • While it is true that organized labor has more friends among Democrats, many of the Republicans elected Nov. 2 are friends of working families, and they received UTU PAC support and were on our voting recommendations list.
  • The UTU is a bipartisan union, historically and consistently looking beyond party labels to reward each and every friend of working families.
  • Among our Republican friends, for example, are Rep. Don Young of Alaska, and Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. Republican Sen. Hatch is one of the strongest congressional defenders of the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), while Republican Rep. Young has been one of the UTU’s most ardent supporters in the House of Representatives.
  • One of the most important congressional committees to UTU members — airline, bus and rail — is the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, where most legislation affecting the transportation industries originates. Among Transportation & Infrastructure Committee members, more than 66 percent — Democrats and Republicans — who were endorsed by the UTU won re-election Nov. 2.
  • In all congressional races Nov. 2, more than 60 percent of UTU endorsed candidates won election or re-election. Imagine if you could win a poker hand more than 60 percent of the time, or hit safely six of 10 times at bat as a major league ballplayer.
  • Despite the change in party control in the House of Representatives, UTU recommended candidates are still a majority, meaning the UTU National Legislative Office can continue to work successfully on issues that matter to our members — job security, safety, health care and retirement benefits, as well as adequate public funding for Amtrak and public transit.
  • Key regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, National Mediation Board, and National Labor Relations Board, will continue to have labor-friendly majority control.
  • The UTU’s GOTV — “get out the vote” — effort this election year resulted in thousands of UTU members and families, who were not previously registered or hadn’t voted in the previous (2006) non-presidential election, registering to vote and casting ballots in congressional races.
  • In states where early voting is permitted, preliminary polling by GOTV shows that as many as 20 percent of UTU members and spouses who cast an early ballot had not voted in the 2006 non-presidential election. This proved important in close races.
  • On behalf of the UTU, GOTV — in partnership with UTU state legislative directors and the UTU Auxiliary — made more than 210,000 unique member contacts in 28 states via the postal service, e-mail and telephone calls, urging UTU members and their families to register to vote and to vote in this election.
  • By encouraging a higher percentage of UTU members to register to vote and to vote, we demonstrate to candidates the power of UTU endorsements — and, especially, that in close races, a UTU endorsement has great value to a candidate.
  • Candidates remember their friends in the same manner organized labor remembers its friends.
  • As the proverb says, “It’s not the will to win, but the will to prepare to win that makes a difference.” What the UTU PAC and GOTV demonstrate to candidates of all political stripes is that the UTU is a friend worth having.
  • The UTU has always had a great legislative program, but what we have accomplished this election through GOTV sets a new standard and benchmark to measure future advances.
  • When the new Congress is seated in 2011, we will be working closely with our old and new friends to continue advancing the UTU legislative agenda on behalf of our members.

By Bonnie Morr
Alternate Vice President – Bus Department

Right now in our country, economics is spelling out what transit and transportation will look like now and in the future.

The UTU Bus Department has been following the trends for funding that are necessary for passenger and public transportation to meet the needs of an aging population and growing automobile congestion.

It does not look good. 

In every town and community, hard decisions must be made — and we want those decisions made by lawmakers who understand the importance of adeuate, reliable and safe public transportation, including transportation of school children by bus.
We have a responsibility to our families, children and community to make sure that the funding for public transportation stays in place. We can do that with our votes on Election Day, Nov. 2.

When we say, “vote your paycheck,” keep in mind that the jobs of UTU Bus Department members depend on adequate, reliable and safe funding for public transportation.

We need to get out the vote for labor-friendly candidates who support adequate, reliable and safe public transportation.

Think jobs, because there are candidates out there who are coming after our jobs.

When you cast your ballot on Election Day, support candidates who will do the right thing when it comes to funding and ensuring adequate, reliable and safe public transportation.

I am a laborer. I drive a bus. I want the labor protections that labor-friendly candidates will honor with laws and regulations that my mother fought for as an organizer for the Ladies Garment Workers Union.

We have protections as union bus operators, and we want to extend those protections to the unorganized.

Let us all support candidates who are pledged to increased funding for public transportation, job security, safe working conditions and an environment that respects working families.

To view the list of labor-friendly candidates, click on the following link:


By James Stem
UTU National Legislative Director

Alfred E. Newman, the not-very-bright Mad magazine character, had an expression shared today by too many Americans: “I am not sure who is running, and my vote won’t make a difference anyway.”

It is doubtful those harboring that opinion would give up their right to vote.

Our war for independence from Britain was about self-government. More recent struggles among women and minorities for the right to vote were equally hard fought.

Today, it is apathy among middle-class workers — not foreign troops, not intimidation at the polls, not laws — that threatens American democracy.

The wealthy and business leaders are more likely to vote than working families. By not going to the polls, working families put at risk their job security, workplace safety, paychecks, access to affordable health care and pensions.

If you are concerned that your work schedule or other conflict will hinder your ability to vote on Election Day, Nov. 2, most states allow you an option to vote early.

You can be sure that the wealthy and business leaders will vote — and vote for candidates who would undermine the financial security of working families.

Our ballot is equal to the ballot of every anti-labor business leader, but it is equal only if we vote.

I am asking you to pay attention to the economic well-being of your family and workplace safety. Ask your UTU local LR and UTU state legislative board for information on local, state and national candidates’ positions toward working families.

In the centerfold of the October issue of UTU News (which you should have received at your home) is a listing, by state, of labor-friendly candidates endorsed by the UTU. This listing is the result of months of research by state legislative boards, the UTU National Legislative Office and the AFL-CIO — based on interviews with the candidates and their responses to written questions.

The list of labor friendly candidates is also available by clicking the link at the end of this column.

Be proud of the middle class lifestyle your UTU contract supports, and consider voting for candidates who will put the interests of working families first.

If you have further questions, contact the UTU National Legislative Office via e-mail at utujm@msn.com, or call us at (202) 543-7714.

Don’t allow others to determine your future. Vote!

To view the list of labor-friendly candidates, click on the following link: