Continuing the proud legacy of our union

October 16, 2023

On September 4, SMART members joined our fellow brothers and sisters from across the labor movement to celebrate Labor Day. From New Brunswick, Canada, to Los Angeles, California — and everywhere in between — we hit the pavement to show our unity and recognize the working men and women who fought for the workplace protections Americans and Canadians enjoy today.

Labor Day is more than just a long weekend that signals the unofficial end of summer. It is the only holiday that honors us. It is the one day that specifically pays tribute to the men and women who built our two countries — and who continue to do so.

As SMART members, we know that we stand on the shoulders of giants. Generations ago, the founding members of our predecessor unions — the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association (SMWIA) and the United Transportation Unions (UTU) — came together around the principles of solidarity and equality for all, uniting with their fellow workers for safety on the job, fair pay, quality healthcare and a stable retirement. Our union has fought on behalf of members, our families and workers all over the United States and Canada ever since. Together with our fellow sisters and brothers in labor, we are part of a movement that has been at the forefront of justice and equality, from the fight for the eight-hour workday to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

The legacy established by the trade unionists who came before us continues to this day. Whether passing two-person crew legislation in states across America or securing job-creating federal legislation for sheet metal workers across both of our nations, we have built upon the progress that our predecessors won. Now, our time has come to seize this moment and grow our union.

We live in an era of opportunity — the kind we have not seen in generations. From strong labor language in Canada’s proposed federal budget, to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act in the U.S., federal legislation is creating unheard-of workforce opportunities — requiring local unions to add more apprenticeship classes and organize like never before. Just recently, the Biden administration reintroduced a Davis-Bacon provision that was removed under the Reagan administration and lay dormant ever since. Now it is back and will create even more high-paying jobs for union construction workers across the U.S. by ensuring OUR wage rates set the standard on federally funded projects.

We live in an era of opportunity — the kind we have not seen in generations.

Media attention on railroad and transit safety is bringing our issues to the American public, providing our union with new momentum as we fight for laws and regulations that protect members. Recently released data revealed that 71% of Americans approve of unions, including 88% of Americans under 30. The workers of the future DEMAND the protections and rights that only we can offer.

So, brothers and sisters, let’s take advantage of this moment. Just like the founders of our unions fought for the basic rights and protections we enjoy today, let’s organize. Let’s bring everyone into our union, no matter their gender, their race or their creed. Let’s elect leaders who act on our behalf. And let’s secure the future for those who will remember us tomorrow.

In solidarity,

SMART General President Michael Coleman