Director of Communications and Governmental Affairs
United Mine Workers of America (UMWA)
Phil Smith was appointed Director of Governmental Affairs for the UMWA in July 2014. Prior to that, he served as the UMWA’s Director of Communications for nine and a half years. From 1986–2004, Smith was creative director and then a principal at Fingerhut, Powers, Smith and Associates, a communications and public relations firm in Washington, D.C., primarily serving labor union, political and association clients.
In addition to UMWA members and their families, he has worked to help improve the lives of a wide array of working families throughout the United States and Canada, consulting with unions representing hospital and health care workers, steelworkers, aluminum workers, copper miners, public employees, teachers, postal workers, flight attendants and others.
Mr. Smith has developed and implemented multiple strategic communications campaigns in support of labor union objectives for organizing, collective bargaining, work stoppages, and issue advocacy. Bankruptcy-related communications strategies he developed and executed for the Steelworkers’ campaign at Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel in 1990 and the UMWA’s Fairness at Patriot Coal effort in 2012-13 helped those unions win collective bargaining agreements which were significant improvements over a bankruptcy judge’s order.
In the political arena, he has produced print ads, direct mail, collateral material, radio and televison spots and promotional videos for three presidential campaigns, numerous statewide and congressional elections as well as dozens of state legislative and local races. His spots for a coalition of unions in 1995-96 helped to successfully blunt the efforts of then-Speaker Newt Gingrich to implement the so-called “Contract with America.”
As UMWA Government Affairs Director, Mr. Smith developed and implemented a broad legislative and communications strategy to achieve Congressional passage of legislation in 2017 preserving the health care benefits of 22,600 retired miners, dependents and widows whose benefits were threatened due to a series of coal industry bankruptcies; and 2019 legislation safeguarding promised pension benefits for some 92,000 current and future retired coal miners and widows.
Currently, along with his responsibilities for legislative and political action, He also manages external communications and media relations for the UMWA.
Mr. Smith earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Point Park University (1980) in Pittsburgh and a Master of Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.