SMART Northeast Regional Council President and General Vice President Robert Butler recently honored Local 17 (Boston, Mass.) member George Psaros for his 70 years of service to our union. Congratulations on this incredible achievement, Brother Psaros!

During a financial secretary-treasurers meeting at SMART International headquarters in Washington, DC, several SMART Rail, Mechanical and Engineering (RME) Department members received their 15-year service awards. Pictured, left to right: Erik Marro from Local 31 (Harmon, New York); Rob Ussery of Local 78 (Little Rock, Arkansas); SMART International Representative C. Joseph Fraley of Local 31; Rob Kaminskey from Local 149 (New York City); and Arnold Fernandes from Local 139 (Boston, Mass.).

SM Local 88 (Las Vegas, Nevada) won the first annual Southern Nevada Building Trades softball tournament. They forged a dominant run through a crowded field of 18 other teams, none of which were able to stand up to the hitting prowess and fielding only Local 88 could muster. Congratulations!

Members of SMART SM Local 206 joined fellow union workers from the San Diego Building Trades on September 26 to usher through a historic victory for workers in the area, with La Mesa, Calif., becoming the first city in San Diego County to pass a citywide project labor agreement (PLA).

The PLA, negotiated between the city of La Mesa and the San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council, was approved unanimously, and will ensure union pay, benefits and protections for all construction workers on city of La Mesa public works projects.

“Personal politics aside, most of our members know and understand that our local will only endorse and support labor-friendly candidates and legislation,” said Local 206 Business Manager Dave Gauthier. “When we support those that support livable wages and a full family benefit package, our members and our communities do better as a whole.”

“When we support those that support livable wages and a full family benefit package, our members and our communities do better as a whole.”

– SMART Local 206 Business Manager Dave Gauthier

Project labor agreements benefit workers, contractors, project owners and citizens alike by organizing complex construction projects, creating jobs for local community members, providing the necessary skilled trades workforce for complicated jobs. They also help bring projects in on time and under budget – ultimately saving taxpayer money. By providing union-protected wages and benefits for all workers, project labor agreements help lift area residents – including historically disadvantaged and underrepresented communities – into the middle class. They also benefit local unions, with many PLAs including union hiring hall requirements.

Local 206 members and other building trades workers showed up to the September 26 La Mesa City Council meeting to speak in favor of the La Mesa PLA – illustrating the difference it makes when SMART members get involved in the political process. Such activism will continue to be crucial as local unions work to take advantage of a union-friendly political climate and funding from federal legislation signed into law by President Biden. Additionally, Gauthier added, pushing for pro-labor legislation like PLAs helps demonstrate the union advantage to working people everywhere.  

“Explaining the benefits of local hire and project labor agreements is actually pretty easy when speaking to working-class people,” he said. “When you tell folks that these agreements benefit their neighbors who wake up early every morning and lace up their work boots, and when they understand that their tax dollars are then being redistributed in the local economy, you can really see the light come on in their eyes. They get it, and then they get what we in labor are all about.”

Local 17 (Boston, Mass.) members are preparing to begin work on one of the largest real estate projects in Boston history, as well as the largest-ever project labor agreement (PLA)-covered job in Massachusetts: the redevelopment of Suffolk Downs, a former horse racing site on the border of east Boston and neighboring Revere. The 20-year buildout is set to create pipelines to family-sustaining union careers for thousands of local community members, as well as construct affordable housing in the area.

According to the development firm heading the project, HYM Investment Group, “the redevelopment will transform 161 acres into a new resilient mixed-use neighborhood served by two stops on the MBTA Blue Line. Suffolk Downs will create 10,000 new units of housing to meet critical demand in the market, and will provide a mix of senior, workforce, family and young professional housing, including over 900 affordable units.”

And thanks to the PLA negotiated between HYM, its general contractor, John Moriarty & Associates and both the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters and Boston’s Building and Construction Trades Council, the Suffolk Downs project will be completely union-built and create 14,000 jobs across every sector of the building trades.

The initial project phase will include approximately 1.39 million square feet of development consisting of the Phase 1 Project (520,000 square feet of corporate use and amenity space); three residential buildings; a portion of the townhomes proposed along Waldemar Avenue totaling over 800 housing units; and construction of the Horseshoe Pond landscaped wetland enhancements and Belle Isle Square public plaza, with over 100,000 square feet of ground floor retail.

“It will be a city within a city,” said SMART Northeast Regional Council Labor Management Representative John Cody. “The local community will benefit from new affordable housing and pathways to new careers, whether it be in retail, hospitality, bio life science or the Boston building trades unions. And for our current members of Local 17, we are starting from a blank canvas, so the many hours of work generated by this project will sustain the quality of life for the families of Local 17 and other trades.”

The power of a union-negotiated project labor agreement is on full display with the Suffolk Downs job: Labor, with the help of former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Mass. State Senator (former City Councilor) Lydia Edwards, worked hard to ensure strong equity and local hire requirements are included in the project’s short- and long-term future.

As part of the PLA, HYM committed to providing $2 million in investments to support employment pipelines that will help local residents enter family-sustaining, union careers, both during construction and as part of Suffolk Downs’ future workforce. That includes $1 million in new funding to support the Building Pathways pre-apprenticeship program, in which 90% of enrollees are people of color and 43% are women, and allows direct employment of graduates from Building Pathways.

“Having this PLA in place will help with the growth of the local,” Cody concluded. “Through community standards in place within the PLA, our involvement with various community groups in the area, our outreach to trade schools and career fairs in the city and even on the grounds of the project itself provided by the developer and our partnership with them throughout this whole process. We are hitting the streets and visiting workers, letting them know what a union is all about.”

Rail rodeo participants, left to right: Josiah Lewis, Richard
Montano, Hector Rivera, Jesse Lopez, Marina Mancilla, Steven
Ramirez, Omar Vivente, Gilbert Jaurequi and Eden Vazquez.
Not pictured: Norma Marlowe.

On Saturday, November 4, SMART-TD Local 1565 members working at Los Angeles Metro participated in the Monrovia division rail rodeo, competing with other transit rail workers and showing off the skills they use to transport passengers safely and efficiently every day. In addition to the skills competition, SMART-TD members and families showed out to support their union family, and Local 1565 set up a table representing SMART to fellow transit workers and potential members.

Carl Hackerott, a dedicated member of SM Local 16 (Portland, Ore.), passed away shortly before reaching the remarkable milestone of 70 years of service to his union. In honor of his many years of devoted trade unionism, Local 16 presented Hackerott’s 70-year service award to his wife.

“Not only was Carl a skilled and accomplished sheet metal worker, but he also found joy in reviving antique sheet metal equipment. In honor of his memory, the Hackerott family decided to generously donate a meticulously restored, 1896, four-foot wooden hand brake to the training center. It is on display in the lobby of our Portland campus,” the Sheet Metal Institute — Local 16’s training center — wrote on Facebook. “During the heartfelt presentation of this cherished artifact, Mrs. Hackerott was deeply moved as she received her late husband’s well-deserved 70-year pin.” 

Pictured, left to right: The Sheet Metal Institute’s Ben Wood, training coordinator, and Rob Postma, executive administrator of training; Mrs. Hackerott; and Jerry Galarneau, past training coordinator

Local 68 (Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas) hosted its JATC Graduation and Pin Recipients Banquet on July 28, 2023, where local union leadership recognized the dedication of long-serving members and celebrated the newest journeyworkers in our union. Importantly, the ceremony gave newly graduated apprentices the chance to witness the lifelong benefits that SMART membership provides. Great work, Local 68.