“You’re either at the table, or you’re on the menu”

May 27, 2022

A conversation about the importance of having regular working people in office with two SMART members who serve their communities in local elected positions.

Last episode, we heard from Joe de la Cruz, a SMART sheet metal worker in Groton, Conn., who is also a state senator, proudly serving the communities of Groton and New London. This episode we sit down with two more SMART members who have successfully run for elected office. We discuss their sheet metal and transportation careers, what motivated them to run for elected office, specific steps they took to build and run successful campaigns and key issues they focused on once in office.

Matt Cherry

Our first guest this episode is Matt Cherry, a Local 33 sheet metal member from Toledo, Ohio, who serves as the president of the Toledo City Council. Among other topics, he discussed the importance of support he had from the local labor community, including more than 50 union members who helped with door-knocking during his successful campaign for city council.

Our second guest is Dan O’Connell, a long-time member of the SMART Transportation Division who served as New Jersey State Legislative Director for 20 years, until his retirement in 2018. He also served as the Delran Councilman and Burlington County freeholder. Dan has been a recognizable face across every part of our union as his formidable reputation in the New Jersey State House preceded him prior to his retirement.

Dan O’Connell

Voting, lobbying and writing politicians are one thing, but actually being in an elected position and making decisions that affect our jobs, families and communities is also key. Dan underscored the importance of having regular working people in elected positions: “You’re either at the table, or you’re on the menu.”

In addition, listen for the open mic segment with General President Joseph Sellers at the end of this episode. He responds to a question about whether railroad workers are allowed to strike.

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Talking SMART is a member of the Labor Radio Podcast Network — working people’s voices, broadcasting worldwide 24 hours a day.