Committees work to create new SMART union

February 16, 2012

In a joint message to members, the leadership of the UTU and the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association (SMWIA) pledged “to move forward and grow, and place all hostilities behind us” as the two organizations strive to cement a seamless merger.

The merger of the UTU and the SMWIA into the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) Workers creates “new, vibrant and exceptional opportunities to organize the unorganized, become more efficient in our daily activities and make our highest calling the representation of the men and women of SMART,” the leadership said.

In the first meeting of the UTU and the SMWIA leadership with senior staff in late January, the committees formed in November began the development of joint objectives “to ensure we all pull in the same direction, build trust in one another and use members’ dues in the most efficient manner.”

Initial goals established include:

•Acceleration of public knowledge of SMART’s creation, especially through event staging, such as joint participation in rallies supporting collective bargaining rights. The two organizations will increase state activism efforts to slow and turn back efforts of anti-union lawmakers seeking to eliminate collective bargaining rights and impose right-to-work (for less) laws.

•Identifying opportunities for organizing the unorganized. This will be accomplished in the transportation area with the SMWIA’s larger organizing staff assisting UTU organizers, and leveraging the UTU’s strong state presence through state legislative departments to create opportunities for organizing contractors in the sheet metal and air conditioning industries.

•Joint federal and state legislative activity in furtherance of laws and regulations beneficial to all SMART members.

•Maximizing the use of SMWIA training facilities.

•Aggressive pursuit of federal grants to address safety and security issues.

•Focus on improving the quality of member health care insurance, at the lowest possible cost to members.

•Coordinate publications and websites of the two organizations.

•Provide financial savings, increase members’ services and reduce administrative expenses through a proficient structure by taking advantage of the financial strengths of each organization and comparing internal practices to determine how SMART might become more efficient and effective in its commitment to members.

•Coordinate information technology hardware and software improvements, link telephone systems, and share the numerous collective bargaining agreements and membership databases of the separate organizations.

•Answer member’s questions regarding the separate constitutions, election of officers, conductor certification, contract provisions, application of the Railway Labor Act, National Labor Relations Act, Family and Medical Leave Act and equal opportunity laws.

•Ensure the senior elected leadership of both organizations participates jointly at UTU regional meetings and in the labor/management 2012 Partners in Progress conference in March.

“Combined as SMART, we create a large and powerful voice within the AFL-CIO and in advancing legislative objectives in Congress and state legislatures,” said the senior leadership of the UTU and the SMWIA.

The senior staff of the UTU and the SMWIA will continue to work jointly at the committee level in furtherance of these objectives, leading up to the 2014 SMART convention and keeping members informed through updates published on the websites and in the UTU and the SMWIA publications.

“SMART exists to service the interests of our joint membership,” the senior leadership said.

At a recent SMWIA/UTU meeting are, from left, SMWIA Secretary Treasurer Joe Sellers Jr.; SEPTA General Chairperson
Waverly Harris, who serves as chairperson of District 3 of the UTU’s Association of General Chairpersons;
UTU International President Mike Futhey; Long Island Rail Road General Chairperson Anthony Simon, who serves as
chairperson of District 1 of the UTU’s Association of General Chairpersons; SMWIA General President Joe Nigro;
UTU Assistant President Arty Martin, and UTU General Secretary & Treasurer Kim Thompson.