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!

The 3rd Congressional District of New York has consistently valued proven leadership — with the glaring exception of George Santos. Luckily for the people of Long Island and SMART-TD members in particular, we have an opportunity to right the ship in February.

Our union has an ally in this race with a proven track record of serving the district and our membership with consistency. Congressman Tom Suozzi is a known commodity in Long Island. We remember him over his six years in Congress that highlighted his advocacy for nationwide two-person crew legislation and for his role championing the Long Island Rail Road in Washington.

Suozzi has been a personal friend of SMART-TD Alternate Vice President and General Chairperson Anthony Simon for nearly two decades. While in office, Suozzi has a track record of consulting with Simon and your union on a regular basis using our organization as his sounding board for every decision and vote he made affecting the transportation industry.

Your union has rarely, if ever, had a better advocate. Suozzi has brought funding to both the subway and LIRR, among other projects, that have benefited our members.

Now he needs our help. We owe it to ourselves to bring consistent and reliable leadership back to Long Island’s 3rd Congressional District. Not only does Congressman Suozzi need our support Feb. 13, but he has arranged for all organized labor to show the world who he serves and why. Suozzi and his campaign are asking Long Islanders in the labor movement to take advantage of their ability to vote early and do it on the same day (Feb. 3) so that they can use the vote totals from that day to demonstrate our collective power.

SMART-TD and Simon are asking for your support. All members of our union and other labor organizations have been informed that Congressman Suozzi’s campaign is asking our men and women to cast their ballots at their local early voting locations on Feb. 3.

The goal is to show a noticeable spike on what they are calling Labor Votes Day and put Washington on notice that Representative Suozzi is coming back to Capitol Hill with a clear, distinct mandate that he is there to represent labor and our interest.

There are rallies for the congressman planned in multiple locations on Feb. 3 aimed at rallying labor and getting our collective voice heard that day. More information will be provided on these events as we get closer.

Please do your due diligence as a SMART member and as an American, and double check that your voter registration is up to date and that you know where your early voting location is. This is our moment to return sanity to New York’s 3rd Congressional District and to return a champion for our union to Washington!

Any of us who has had a conversation in a crew room, locker room or a locomotive about politics knows that there is a 50% chance that things could get awkward in a way that’ll take more than a few minutes to clear the air. When in a 10-square-foot metal box with another alpha personality for 12 hours and you have another 12 hours to look forward to the next day, we all know that it is good practice to avoid getting into the vortex of politics or religion.

Most of us have learned that lesson the hard way and have some colleagues we don’t like working with because of it. This is symptomatic of the fact that politics has no place in a bus garage or in railroading. What should matter on the job (as well as when transportation issues are discussed on Capitol Hill) are safety, common sense and getting the job done.

Your union agrees with you on this topic 100%. Our true north is keeping our members safe and properly compensated for the essential role they have in this nation’s economy. As part of our mission to accomplish these two goals, we keep as close an eye on Congress and the state legislatures as bus operators keep on traffic signals and pedestrians and railroaders keep on the track ahead.

Unlike some unions that simply choose a party and blindly support the candidates in that party, SMART-TD is laser-focused on analyzing candidates’ voting histories more than their campaign promises when we choose to endorse in any race from City Council to the presidency. The conclusion of this research is often that the Democratic candidate for a given office is more in line with the values and goals of SMART-TD on rail, bus and transit issues, but that’s NOT always the case. Just like you take a serious approach to your daily tasks on the job, our union’s national and state legislative teams do the same.

The process of breaking down each race is done pragmatically and without predetermined outcomes. As a result, a study our union’s political consultant presented at SMART’s most-recent leadership meeting showed that our Political Action Committee, (PAC) had a breakdown of 80% donations to Democrats and 20% to Republicans. As a frame of reference, our closest rail labor partner, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, had a ratio of 96% Democratic support to only 4% Republican in the same timeframe.

As it turns out, there is no political party with a monopoly on common sense or a focus on doing the right thing by transportation workers, the nation’s economy or the safety of the communities we live and work in. Co-author of the Railway Safety Act of 2023, U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) recently said in The Hill, (a D.C. newspaper) “These rail lines pass frequently through Republican areas, small towns with a lot of Republican voters. How can we look them in the eye and say, we’re doing a good job by you? If we choose the railroads over their own interests, we can’t.” While the words align with what our union fights for daily, it is the fact that he recognizes the need for change in rail safety and introduced the legislation that will hold the most weight when considering whether to endorse Vance for a new term when the time comes.

Arizona State Legislative Director Scott Jones, left, poses with U.S. Sen. Scott Hawley during 2023's Railroad Safety Day on the Hill.
Arizona State Legislative Director Scott Jones, left, poses with U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley during 2023’s Railroad Safety Day on the Hill.

Missouri U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley is a polarizing national figure. However, he was one of just a half-dozen Republicans in the Senate who voted to give seven days of paid sick leave to all railroad employees in late 2022. He also supports the bipartisan Railway Safety Act of 2023 that Vance and his fellow Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown introduced. Last week, Hawley signed on as a cosponsor to the Railroad Employee Equity and Fairness (REEF) Act to stop the practice of targeted federal taxes on our brothers and sisters who are furloughed or can’t work because of a medical disability. He has stood with SMART-TD members on these three rail issues that hit close to home for a large segment of our membership. When he signed on as a cosponsor to the REEF Act, our union emailed the news to all our members in Missouri along with a prewritten thank you to send to the senator’s office.

Unlike some other unions, our union is always open to supporting legislators whose prime motivation is our people — looking out for your safety and that of the communities where you live and work.

Please keep this fact in mind when considering whether to donate to SMART-TD’s PAC and also when you consider what union you should belong to in the first place.

Additionally, this is a good perspective to keep in mind when SMART-TD does endorse a candidate in a political race. There is no need for skepticism. If you hear any chatter that SMART-TD’s endorsements are one-sided or biased, that is 100% correct. We are unapologetically on the side of YOU and YOUR LOVED ONES who rely on you.

SMART-TD is proud to be known for this bias and not any obsession with partisanship.

President Biden speaks union members at the 2022 NABTU Legislative Conference,

On May 23, 2023, the SMART General Executive Council (GEC) voted to endorse United States President Joe Biden for a second term. The GEC is elected by members of SMART local unions.

SMART workers will join fellow union members in Philadelphia on June 17 for an endorsement event, where workers will highlight the impact of the Biden administration’s pro-labor economic policies.  

“President Biden’s first term has been a transformative one for SMART members and working people across our nation,” said SMART General President Mike Coleman. “His unapologetically pro-worker agenda led to the passage of laws that protect union members’ retirement security, invest unprecedented dollars in our industries and ensure that SMART members will be on the job for decades to come.” 

President Biden meets with SMART Local 49 Business Manager/Financial Secretary-Treasurer Isaiah Zemke.

During his first term, President Biden kept his campaign promises to SMART members and working families, putting workers first with the American Rescue Plan, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, as well as an executive order requiring project labor agreements on federal projects that cost more than $35 million and a partnership with SMART on improving air quality in buildings.   

Under the Biden-Harris administration, a wave of new megaprojects is employing SMART sheet metal and production members by the thousands, while a pro-labor National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has helped hold bad-faith employers accountable and benefited union organizing and recruiting efforts. The Biden-Harris Federal Railroad Administration has proposed a regulation requiring two-person crews on all freight trains, and federal funding has put SMART sheet metal members to work on critical infrastructure projects that will better the working conditions of SMART Transportation Division members.  

The Biden administration pushed for megaprojects to include strong labor standards that put SMART members to work.

“We know that the job isn’t finished,” Coleman said. “Even as the American economy continues to grow from the bottom up and the middle out, anti-labor politicians and their bad-faith benefactors are intent on stifling that growth and returning to an economy ruled from the top down. We have progress to make, from passing the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act to securing real rail safety regulation.”  

“With Joe Biden as our president, we are confident that we will continue to make progress for working people,” he added. “SMART is proud to endorse President Biden for the 2024 United States Presidential Election, and we look forward to mobilizing in support of the president and pro-worker candidates down the ballot.” 

President Biden with SMART Local 359 member Raymond Calvin.

Tim Ryan

The SMART Transportation Division already has made public its full support of U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan if he decides to run for the U.S. Senate for his home state of Ohio in 2022.
He’s already proven himself to us by showing up to support Amtrak workers during demonstrations against furloughs last autumn. But he did it again just days ago on the House floor, rebuking politicians who would rather talk about children’s book publishers who choose to stop publishing their own books rather than doing their duty to have a serious discussion about the PRO Act and fighting for hard-working Americans.
Through 10 terms as a representative of Ohio’s 17th and 13th Districts representing the working cities of Akron and Youngstown and as a former presidential candidate, he’s had plenty to say about helping American workers. March 9’s speech was no different.
“If there’s one thing you can always count on from me, it’s giving a damn about America’s working families,” Ryan tweeted out with a link accompanying the video below.
We appreciate his passion. We applaud Rep. Ryan’s focus, drive and fire when it comes to the working class. We thank him, and, once again, we support him.

Statement from SMART General President Joseph Sellers, Jr. July 1, 2020
The International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) is pleased to endorse Vice President Joe Biden for President of the United States, following a unanimous vote of its General Executive Council.

Biden

The endorsement was informed by discussions with and feedback from SMART members and leaders from across the United States who met to discuss SMART issues and which candidate best supports them. Over the past four years, SMART leadership has also met with all the major presidential candidates from both parties, including the incumbent president, and had meaningful dialogue with them regarding issues impacting SMART members.
SMART has engaged with and listened to our members from coast to coast about their views and opinions regarding our union, their jobs and current events that affect their future. This effort was launched to ensure members have a say in shaping the course of our union as it proceeds to advance the needs and viewpoints of the membership.
Biden has a long history of engaging with SMART members and working families in both the sheet metal and transportation industries. The endorsement decision was based on Biden’s strong support of the concerns most important to our members, including the need for two-person railroad crews, retirement and pension security, protection of prevailing wages, and a prioritization of workplace safety. He also is dedicated to acting on a plan for real infrastructure work to enhance employment opportunities for current and future members in the industries SMART represents. SMART members have made it clear they can no longer wait after four years of empty promises for new infrastructure initiatives from the current administration.
From his early years working with local sheet metal workers as a County Commissioner in Delaware, to his frequent meetings with SMART Amtrak conductors during his commute back and forth to Washington, D.C., Joe Biden has been acutely aware of and engaged with the issues on the minds of our members.
After a series of discussions with Biden’s campaign staff, where members’ feedback and concerns were shared with the candidate, Vice President Biden took the time to respond with a video outlining his positions on the issues. His impassioned message in this video proves that Biden is the clear choice for our union and the membership.
SMART is highly engaged in the political process to ensure our issues are advanced and our members’ livelihoods are protected. We also strive to ensure union leadership is transparent and clear with our members when it comes to decisions in the electoral arena. We work to advance our members’ issues by advocating and educating on their behalf while supporting candidates, regardless of party, who stand with SMART members and for issues important to all working families.

U.S. Rep. Tim Walz has been endorsed by the SMART TD Minnesota State Legislative Board in his run for governor.
SMART Transportation Division Minnesota State Legislative Board has proudly announced today its endorsement of U.S. Rep. Tim Walz’s campaign for governor of Minnesota.
“Congressman Walz’s work with our union since 2006 for railroad safety and service distinguishes his efforts in the 2018 election cycle,” said SMART TD Minnesota State Legislative Director Phillip Qualy. “Since serving as chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads with former Congressman James Oberstar, Tim Walz has always had an open door for railroad labor.”
Walz has cosponsored multiple versions of SMART TD’s key legislative priority The Safe Freight Act that requires a certified conductor and certified engineer on all trains, authored bipartisan energy legislation and holds a strong reputation in Congress for working in a bipartisan manner across party lines, Qualy said.
“Tim Walz is a friend of railroad labor and our retirees,” Qualy said. “Our state committee believes that having worked in Washington, he brings a wealth of knowledge home and can bring needed resources to our state. As our next governor, Tim Walz’s common-sense values, pragmatism and enthusiasm will serve Minnesotans well.”
Prior to joining Congress in 2007 and representing Minnesota’s First District, Walz was a high school teacher for 20 years in Mankato Minn., where he coached Mankato West to the state football championship. An avid outdoor sportsman, Walz also served in the National Guard, where he achieved the highest enlisted rank of any member in Congress who served in the Guard.
“Among some very good candidates for governor, Tim Walz has earned strong support from railroad labor and our retirees,” Qualy said. “The Minnesota 2018 elections are crucial to the future of railroad labor and our state.”
In addition to Walz, SMART TD’s Railroad Workers Committee also screened gubernatorial candidates Erin Murphy and state Auditor Rebecca Otto May 18th in St. Paul. Qualy said all received “excellent” ratings from the committee.
“We look forward to a positive and productive working relationship with Tim Walz in the Minnesota Governor’s Office” said Qualy.
“I encourage all of our SMART TD members to get involved with your Local, be sure you are registered to vote, and vote for your job and your pension first this November. Minnesota’s working families must unite this fall to keep this state a great place to live and work,” he said.
To read a PDF of the Minnesota State Legislative Board’s letter endorsing Walz, follow this link.

New Jersey State Legislative Director Ronald E. Sabol reports that the N.J. State Legislative Board (SLB) has announced their endorsements for candidates running for election Nov. 7, 2017.
“The NJSLB would like to remind all of our N.J. members Election Day is November 7th and that they will be voting for governor as well as all N.J. Senate and Assembly seats,” Sabol said. “Anyone wishing to see the NJSLB’s election recommendations can do so by visiting our website.”
Click here to view their endorsements. Click here to visit the NJ SLB & Local 60’s website.
 

N.J. State Legislative Director Ron Sabol (left) and New Jersey Transit General Chairperson Steve Burkert (right) endorse Phil Murphy (center), N.J.’s democratic candidate for governor.