On August 8, United States Vice President Kamala Harris and Acting Secretary of the Department of Labor (DOL) Julie Su announced the publication of a rule that updates the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts, strengthening prevailing wage regulations and raising pay standards for SMART members and building trades workers across America. Among other provisions, the updated regulations would restore the DOL’s definition of prevailing wage – making it equivalent to the wage paid to at least 30% of workers in local communities (rather than the weakened 50%) – strengthen enforcement and modernize DOL’s definition of “site of the work” to account for current industry practices. It is expected to raise wage standards for more than one million construction workers.

In response, SMART General President Michael Coleman released the following statement:

“SMART commends the Biden administration and Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su for following through on their promise to our members. By updating Davis-Bacon prevailing wage regulations for the first time in more than 40 years, the Department of Labor is working to ensure that construction workers employed on public works projects are paid what they deserve, helping lift more workers into the middle class and boosting the economies in cities, towns and neighborhoods from coast to coast. This is especially vital as projects funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act continue breaking ground – putting thousands of SMART members to work.

“It’s no coincidence that this announcement arrives just days after Acting Secretary Su joined us at our 2023 SMART Leadership Conference. This is an administration that understands the importance of putting working families first. The gutting of the Davis-Bacon Act under the Reagan administration set us back for decades – now, with this long-overdue update, we can finally ensure that the women and men building our nation receive fair compensation. We thank the Department of Labor and the Biden administration for their continued commitment to SMART members and workers everywhere.”

Pro-labor elected officials in Michigan restored workers’ right to collectively bargain and ensured workers are offered competitive wages, finally rewarding the efforts of union workers and allies. House Democrats voted on March 8 to repeal the state’s decade-old so-called “right-to-work” law in a 56-53, party-line vote; on March 14, Senate Democrats followed suit in a 20-17, party-line vote, sending the legislation to Governor Gretchen Whitmer to sign into law on March 24, 2023.  

This victory was a long time coming for union members in the Great Lakes State. In 2012, the country watched as SMART members joined over 10,000 fellow union workers and their supporters at the State Capitol in Lansing to protest the Republican-led effort to make Michigan a right-to-work state. Unfortunately, those protests were unsuccessful. Under right-to-work, union membership in Michigan fell from 17.1% of the workforce in 2012 to 10.1% last year.   

Over 10,000 union workers rallied against so-called right-to-work in Lansing, Michigan in 2012

Michigan was one of 27 states with right-to-work laws. Right-to-work laws, championed by corporations and employers looking to pad their profits, were designed to weaken unions and decrease pay and benefits. Now – thanks in no small part to the votes of SMART members, which helped Democrats win the state house, senate and governor’s office – Michigan became the first state in nearly 60 years to repeal its right-to-work law.

Michigan Democrats also voted along party lines to restore the state’s prevailing wage law for publicly funded state construction projects. This guarantees that workers are paid fairly and ensures wages are reinvested in local communities, ultimately benefiting taxpayers. Republicans had previously repealed the state’s 50-year-old prevailing wage law in 2018.   

“What is happening in Michigan offers an example of what’s possible when SMART members and voters across the state join together to elect pro-worker candidates,” said SMART General President Joseph Sellers. “After 10 years of anti-worker policy designed to weaken our ability to collectively bargain for better wages and workplace protections, this is a vital step in the right direction that was won by the tireless advocacy of union workers.”  

Watch Local 80 Business Manager Tim Mulligan discuss the repeal of “right-to-work” on SMART News.

As General President Sellers announced, years of hard work and sacrifices made by National Pension Fund participants, locals and employers have paid off.

In addition to this, the Biden Administration announced the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge in late March. This challenge is a call to action and a set of best practices to assist building owners with reducing risks from airborne viruses and other contaminants.

The Clean Air in Buildings Challenge relies on significant input from SMART and our experts at the National Energy Management Institute (NEMI), who assisted in devising its goals and objectives.

The challenge includes the creation of a clean indoor air action plan, practices for optimizing fresh air ventilation, the enhancement of air filtration and cleaning, and community engagement around the importance of enhanced air ventilation to ensure this issue — and its solution — is prioritized by leaders in the public and private sectors. This ensures the expanded contribution of our signatory contractors employing SMART sheet metal workers to lead this challenge.

As the Biden Administration rolls out the historic bipartisan infrastructure bill, modernizing the prevailing wages attached to these projects will ensure fair wages and protect workers employed in the sheet metal industry.

In early March, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that it was updating its Davis-Bacon rules, which affect members employed in the construction industry — especially those working for employers who compete on publicly funded projects. This is the first time in 40 years the Department of Labor has performed a comprehensive review of these regulations, and it couldn’t come at a better time. As the Biden Administration rolls out the historic bipartisan infrastructure bill, modernizing the prevailing wages attached to these projects will ensure fair wages and protect workers employed in the sheet metal industry. Structural changes to the administration of these new projects are what will make the difference in guaranteeing that not only are they built on time and under budget, but also that unscrupulous employers do not undermine the wages and standards SMART and our signatory employers have spent decades creating.

As you will find within this issue of the Members’ Journal, SMART has also updated our union’s website at www.smart-union.org. The website is all-inclusive and interactive, with landing pages for content and material found nowhere else online — such as an updated Resources section for sheet metal workers, TD material and forms, Canadian resources, an easier-to-use Sheet Metal Job Bank, membership information only available to you, links to fund material, dozens of resource libraries and more. Member information is accessed via a Member Portal and customized to each individual member’s needs and experience. Visit the website at www.smart-union.org and click on the Member Portal to create an account. Instructions for SM and TD members are linked through the QR Code below.

Brothers and sisters, we live in exciting times — we are taking advantage of new technologies to update our services to you. Make sure you continue to revisit the Member Portal, as we will update information there with breaking news and the latest resources.


Joseph Powell
SMART General Secretary Treasurer

Today the Department of Labor announced a notice of proposed rulemaking updating the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts (DBRA) regulations. In response, SMART issued the following response.

“We welcome the Department of Labor taking steps to update and modernize the DBRA to reflect advancements in construction technology. This is the first time in 40 years the Department of Labor has performed a comprehensive review of these regulations, and it couldn’t come at a more opportune time. As the Biden administration administers the historic bipartisan infrastructure bill, modernization of the DBRA is necessary to help ensure fair wages and protect workers in the construction industry. We look forward to working with the administration to finalize the rule.”