Tomorrow, February 13, 2024, Long Island, N.Y., will select the newest member of the United States Congress. With 435 seats in the House, it may not seem that this seat is particularly important to the well-being of SMART-TD members.

But it is.

Rarely in our nation’s history has Congress as a whole been so evenly divided between Republicans (268) and Democrats (260) with three independents who usually caucus with Democrats. It makes for a divided legislative branch with Republicans in charge in the House and Democrats controlling the Senate.

So, when an open seat is decided in an off-cycle special election like the one Long Island has tomorrow, its importance is magnified. Party affiliation doesn’t matter to this union. The only two groups we care about in the Capitol are W’s and A’s. That is to say those that are “with” transportation workers and labor at large, and those who are “against.”

As close as the House of Representatives is in the margin between the R’s and D’s, it is just as much of a dogfight between the W’s and A’s. SMART-TD is asking all of our members in New York’s 3rd Congressional District to go to the polls if they have not already voter early on Tuesday, Feb. 13th to support Tom Suozzi, whose voting record on transportation issues has him squarely on the W side.

During Suozzi’s time in Congress, before George Santos came onto the scene representing Long Island, our union was able to count on two things from him. He consistently consulted SMART-TD and our Alt. Vice President/General Chairperson from the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), Anthony Simon, on all issues affecting our members.

Adding to Suozzi’s value to SMART-TD members in the House of Representatives is that when he and Congress were faced with transportation issues, especially affecting LIRR, he didn’t wait until his mind was made up on the issue to reach out to us. Some legislators have a relationship with labor unions where they feel obligated to reach out to us to explain their vote before or after it is cast. Suozzi treats GC Simon and our members as valued assets who contribute to him forming his opinion rather than as a voting bloc he needs to pacify or make sure is kept happy.

Suozzi is known to value our input and will continue to if we are able to ensure his opportunity to return to representing Long Island in the House. He is a valued partner in our union’s effort to promote safety in transportation as well as investing in the value we bring to our neighborhoods and the country.

SMART-TD is proud to stand with Suozzi tomorrow and, more importantly, for the duration of his time serving New York’s 3rd Congressional District. Please do your part to ensure this union’s future and get out to vote in tomorrow’s special election. Our brothers and sisters deserve to have Suozzi’s voice fighting for them while critical bills like the Railroad Safety Act of 2023, bills promoting the safety of transit workers, and other pivotal to us are crafted in our nation’s capital!

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

This is an important year for the direction of our country, and as we do on the roads and on the rails of these great United States, SMART Transportation Division will lead the way.
With your vote comes the chance to shape where the future of the transportation industry will go by selecting those candidates who support issues, such as two-person crews, the safety of our bus operators and yardmaster legislation, that are important to us.
Not registered? Voters in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Utah, Vermont, Washington, D.C., Wisconsin and Wyoming can still register and vote today!

Elections matter. Be sure to have your say about the future of your paycheck, your healthcare, your retirement and your safety on the job.
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