The AFL-CIO Executive Council celebrates the service of Joseph Sellers Jr., retired general president of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART).
The son of a sheet metal local union officer, Sellers followed his father’s career path and devoted nearly three decades of local and national leadership at SMART. His distinguished career with SMART started in 1980 with an apprenticeship with Local 19 in Philadelphia, becoming a journeyperson four years later. In 1994, he was elected to the local’s executive board and, in 2002, became Local 19’s president and business manager.
In 2009, Sellers was elected as 11th general vice president of the international, and two years later was elected to serve as the union’s general secretary-treasurer. He became SMART’s general president in May 2015 upon the retirement of General President Joseph Nigro.
Sellers served on the AFL-CIO Commission on the Future of Work and Unions, where he was instrumental in positioning the labor movement to ensure the benefits of technological progress are distributed fairly. He also served as co-chair of the AFL-CIO Retirement Security Working Group, where he led efforts to lobby for, and secure, historic pension reform that will protect the retirement of millions of America’s workers.
As general president, Sellers steered the union through a merger, and a global health and economic crisis. He pioneered several initiatives designed to increase diversity and inclusion in the union, including the Belonging and Excellence for All (BE4ALL) campaign, and spearheaded new investments in membership mobilization. He led initiatives to increase outreach and awareness on pension and health care issues, and intensified efforts to address mental health and substance abuse issues in the workplace. He steered SMART’s national pension fund into the “green zone,” ensuring a stable retirement for generations of new and existing sheet metal workers.
On behalf of the more than 12.5 million members of the AFL-CIO, the Executive Council thanks Joe Sellers for his service and solidarity, and we wish him a long, happy and healthy retirement.