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

Brothers and sisters,

2022 was a historic year for our movement. Our resolve was tested, and we proved stronger than anyone outside of this organization expected. As you can see by this latest edition of the SMART Members’ Journal, our collective efforts have served to put the world on notice.

Many events have defined this past year. The imposition of a national rail contract by Congress, a win in Los Angeles for the contract of one of our largest bus properties, a nationwide effort to rally for two-person crews through a record-setting number of comments to the FRA and through the coordination of nationwide informational rallies to raise awareness about crew size and the need for the dignity of sick leave — these have all put SMART-TD in the spotlight of our country’s news cycles.

These issues have resulted in an unprecedented amount of media attention from outlets all over the nation and the world. I made appearances on a number of cable networks, and it’s not an exaggeration when I say that thousands of news articles put our union and our efforts in the public eye.

This past year, our union took many steps and built necessary momentum to lead the way down a strong path in 2023, and I thank all of you for your support and continued engagement. Many of you took the risk of speaking out against the powerful. It’s going to be crucial to regroup and consider the next steps our opposition will take.

Together we all can work toward justice in the workplace and get what is deserved, even in the face of corporate greed. Our work and success in 2022 has taught us two things for certain. They will bend, and WE WILL NOT BREAK.

One tactic the rail carriers have already engaged in is that they are packaging new cost-cutting proposals to the rail industry and labeling these ideas as “safety” and “quality-of-life improvements” for our men and women on the front lines. I say proposals because they are simply that. As most of you all know, a number of general committees are in mediation over crew-consist agreement issues as a result of the court battles that began in 2019. More specifically, Union Pacific rolled out a video at December’s FRA public hearing on the proposed two-person crew regulation highlighting what they referred to as an “expeditor position,” claiming they had an agreement with “labor” to do so. This position may have been proposed and discussed in mediation, however, to this date there is no such agreement and was merely another attempt to mislead the FRA.

Regarding bus negotiations, we stand in concert with our brothers and sisters who work on the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS). It is important to continue to support them as they fight for a fair, equitable contract as we did with our members in Los Angeles on the LACMTA.

For rail workers, we will continue to focus our efforts on the quality-of-life improvements you have so clearly earned. These will be delivered through the negotiation of on-property agreements that our highly experienced general chairpersons will be leading the way on. We will strive to ensure that the hard-fought victories won by exhausting the Railway Labor Act in the national negotiations translate to real and tangible changes in your work schedules while not compromising your pay and healthcare expenses.

We will continue to protect the physical well-being of our commuter and passenger rail members by working with our State Legislative Directors (SLDs) to enact and enforce state laws banning riders who perpetrate violence against our members. It is crucial that we work together in order to make the workplace a safe, secure environment for these trainmen. Our SLDs and general chairpersons will follow the lead of those in New York and New Jersey to recreate the progress made this year in their precedent-setting ban of a rider from the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) system. The epidemic of disrespect and violence toward our transit and bus members needs to end.

In 2023, let us remain strong and united for the greater good. Together we all can work toward justice in the workplace and get what is deserved, even in the face of corporate greed. Our work and success in 2022, has taught us two things for certain. They will bend, and WE WILL NOT BREAK.

This year, let us stand united and learn from the battles we fought and what was accomplished in 2022. We must renew our commitment to staying in the fight and advancing our movement with resilience and solidarity.

Brothers and sisters, I say this to tell you that our work is not done – it never is – and we will continue forward with our progress in 2023.

Thank you for all that you do in your workplace, in your local union, and in your community.

God bless you and your families in 2023, and please stay safe and look out for one another!


Jeremy R. Ferguson
President, Transportation Division

Make no mistake: In the United States, the upcoming midterm election is vitally important to the advancement of the pro-worker agenda. Normally this would sound cliché, but all it takes is a look at current events to understand what our country is facing. Our jobs, our democracy and our families’ futures are on the line, and the decisions that will be made in the coming two years will determine our success moving forward.

The members of our union have made historic progress in the past 21 months. Instead of a cold shoulder for labor and our interests, we now have open door access in the Oval Office and in Congress, giving us a voice on decisions that affect the lives of workers and their families. We now have a seat at the table; we are able to advocate for your livelihood on matters of policy and planning. This new access has paid off. Time after time, our allies in Congress and the current administration did more than elicit words of support; they acted on your priorities as union men and women.

In fact, no administration or Congress since the 1930s has accomplished so much working with labor in so little time. Since January 2021, we have seen the elimination of the Cadillac tax on members’ and retirees’ health care; the strengthening of multiemployer retirement programs and retirement security; the reintroduction of a two-person crew rule that would make the rule of two a federal regulation; and a historic infrastructure package that goes beyond funds for roads and bridges, directing federal resources to critical rail infrastructure improvements — with a real safety review and operator protections — as well as cleaner and safer building indoor air quality (IAQ) work, all of which will deliver thousands of jobs to SMART members. Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs), introduced by the previous administration to undermine our long-standing registered apprenticeship programs, were eliminated. This new administration and Congress prioritized a pro-organizing initiative to ensure that workers looking to form a union and strengthen your collective bargaining power were met with serious support.

The members of our union have made historic progress in the past 21 months.

All of these substantial advances were made because of the work we put in to support pro-labor elected officials from both parties. That includes officials like Don Bacon, a Republican member of Congress from Nebraska who stands with SMART members on the issues that matter to working families, as well as Tim Ryan — a long-time proworker candidate who never forgot his blue-collar values and has spent his career standing up for workers. We don’t look at party label — we look to support those who do more than just promise; who act on our behalf.

Unfortunately, there are special interests who are looking to reverse our gains. A network of anti-worker groups and corporations are quietly funding and assisting those opposed to our values. They want a return to the days when workers had no say in the direction of this nation, and they see themselves as the sole arbiters of what is best for us, our families and our jobs. They care only about their own profit and power. We cannot hand the reins back over to them; we cannot let them rule over our lives and dictate our families’ futures.

We have come far in only 21 months – and we still have ground to cover as we work to make sure working families are prioritized in the halls of power. I urge you to vote on November 8th to secure your future by locking in the gains we have made.

In solidarity,

SMART General President Joseph Sellers, Jr.