Solidarity is how we win

May 16, 2024

It is an honor to represent you, the more than 203,000 SMART members who keep North America moving through thick and thin. We at the International in Washington, DC, strive daily to grow our union and win more opportunities for SMART members, from lobbying the federal government for rail safety policy to implementing innovative new strategies to help sheet metal workers travel to megaprojects.

And at the core of everything we do is the founding principle of SMART: We, the members, are the union.

As your general secretary-treasurer, I am committed to working with all of you to secure our collective future. Here are just a few highlights of what we have achieved:

  • In Southern California — with the help of the SMART International Political Action League (PAL), SM Local 104 (Northern California) and fellow building trades unions — SM Local 206 members helped secure San Diego’s first citywide project labor agreement (PLA) after electing pro-union city councilmembers and repealing the city’s PLA ban.
  • At Price Industries in Georgia, a rank-and-file member turned subsidized organizer, Donson Ha, has helped Local 85 achieve stellar growth among a largely Vietnamese-speaking workforce, with two Vietnamese shop stewards helping the local successfully organize in a so-called “right-to-work” state.
  • In Delaware, Local 19 was on the forefront of passing a custom fabrication bill that will protect sheet metal members by ensuring the jobsite standards we built and enforce are not undermined by nonunion competitors.

We’ve seen similar success in the Transportation Division — again, thanks to the active involvement of rank-and-file members and strong trade unionism at the local and state level:

  • Tireless advocacy by state legislative boards in Colorado and Virginia led to the advancement of rail safety legislation. In Colorado, legislation is being considered in the state House and Senate at the time of writing, while in Virginia — thanks in large part to the activism of SMART-TD railroaders who contacted their legislators — rail safety passed through both chambers of the state government before being vetoed by anti-union Governor Glenn Youngkin.
  • That follows the passage of two-person crew bills in Ohio, Kansas, Minnesota and New York in 2023, all of which were signed into law by those states’ respective governors — again, a direct result of the work put in by TD legislative boards and members in each state.
  • Members and local union officers across the country have attended Transportation Division regional training seminars in their areas in record numbers. This emphasis on targeted local education has paid off, with SMART-TD winning appeals at an elevated rate.

This is how we win. By getting active in our local unions; by mobilizing and voting for pro-union candidates; by standing in solidarity with our fellow SMART members, no matter who or where they are. I am proud to stand with every one of you as your union brother, and I hope we will all continue to fight for one another as we take on the challenges in the years to come.

In solidarity,

Joseph Powell
SMART General Secretary Treasurer