Meetings with elected officials in Florida, Georgia produce results for SSMRC members

SSMRC leaders successfully advocated for our members on two fronts recently during meetings with a U.S. senator from Georgia and a Florida district secretary of transportation.

“The bipartisan relationships we’ve built here in the South help us get a lot accomplished,” said Rick Halford, political director for the SSMRC.

The June 29 meeting with Florida Transportation Department District Seven Secretary David Gwynn ended a two-year delay in construction of a new training facility in Tampa, Florida, and saved the council half a million dollars. The holdup centered on the Hillsboro County Planning Commission’s requirement that the training trust fund build a feeder road in front of the existing office and training center before the commission would grant permits for the new facility.

“The road would provide no value and is not currently needed,” said Wayne Jennings, executive secretary treasurer of the SSMRC. “We told the secretary the road drastically affects construction costs and our ability to build a center that will provide four years of free job training for the community.”

Gwynn agreed and provided a waiver on the condition a gate to the facility be backset 80 feet from the highway so a feeder road could run across the front of the property should future development necessitate such a road. The meeting included Jennings, Halford, Local 1000 Business Agent Cliff Tucker, Florida Training Director Jimmie Jordan, and Florida Training Coordinator Guy Carter.

In Georgia, U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock visited the Savannah training center June 30 and met with union leaders, including Halford and Eastern Region Director Logan Brown. They discussed the Hyundai electric-vehicle and battery plant being built nearby and how provisions in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, CHIPS and Science Act, and Inflation Reduction Act are aimed at providing good-paying, union jobs during construction of that project and many others the new laws will fund.

Halford and Brown advised Warnock of the need for oversight, tracking, and accountability to ensure labor standards in the laws are followed, and Warnock said he would take those recommendations to the appropriate agencies and officials.