This Labor Day, we recognize the incredible achievements of North America’s working people and celebrate the men and women whose hard work make our nations prosper.

We recognize there are many who are frustrated because despite all the vital contributions we make, too many of us struggle to support our families. Working families in both the U.S. and Canada have sacrificed tremendously and are more productive than ever, yet many of our friends and neighbors are not seeing the rewards for their work.

At SMART, we are making inroads towards addressing these problems and other challenges members and those working in our industries face each and every day. We are fighting back and organizing the unorganized. We are doing this in places like Bushnell, Florida where we gained over one hundred new members last month during the course of a large scale organizing campaign. We are seeing the fruits of our labor by finding new sources and avenues for work in the deep south, like the new work opportunities throughout the Southwest and Southeast U.S. that will be secured by whoever can be first to fill the work. Your union is working aggressively to ensure those positions are filled by SMART members in order to strengthen a lasting industry relationship to ensure continuous work for all of us in the future.

Rich McClees

In the Transportation Division, we are looking forward to a stronger, more united future. We are sharing resources and ideas, like those seen at recent workshops for local Union Leadership at the SMART TD leadership conferences. The more we share and learn from each other, the faster and more efficiently we can grow together to secure the promise of a better future.

And lastly, we are looking to kick off a new union label campaign for those of you working in the Sheet Metal Industry. Those of you who come across the SMART union label at work will be receiving important information in the mail about the campaign in the coming weeks. You will be using new technology, through your mobile phone, to help you perform these functions.

This Labor Day, let’s celebrate working families, speak out for the aggressive change we need to promote a better future, stand together in solidarity and work to ensure our union grows and prospers together, for the benefit of all our members.


Joseph J. Sellers, Jr.

SMART General President

Richard L. McClees

SMART General Secretary-Treasurer  

This Labor Day, SMART General President Joseph Nigro will be present for the Omaha, Neb., Labor Day parade and other festivities. The SMART Transportation Division, led by Transportation Division Nebraska State Legislative Director Bob Borgeson, will also host other events at the Sheet Metal Workers Hall in Omaha Sept. 1-2.
The event kicks off with a “membership feed” Sept. 1 at 6 p.m. Members who show up will receive a T-shirt to wear for the parade. The Labor Day parade will be held Sept. 2 and line-up to walk in the parade is at 9 a.m. at 16th and Webster Streets. There will be mini-trains and a SMART TD caboose for children to ride on.
Eight Transportation Division locals and two general committees are expected to be in attendance. Members from Omaha, Lincoln, North Platte, Alliance and Scottsbluff, Neb. are expected to be represented as well as Council Bluffs, Iowa. Around 400 members from both the Transportation Division and Sheet Metal Workers are expected to be in attendance.
Members can view the UTU in the parade from the past four years by going to YouTube and searching “UTU Labor Day.”
Borgeson encourages all SMART members in the Omaha area from both the transportation and sheet metal divisions to attend. For more information, contact him at (402) 679-0872, or email him at

UTU members participated in Labor Day events and parades nationwide, demonstrating that a healthy, energized and committed labor union movement is alive and well in America.

In truth, there was not too much to celebrate.

For too many Americans, this Labor Day was just another day without a full-time job; and for millions more Americans, any celebration of Labor Day was eclipsed by concerns of wage cuts, higher health care insurance premiums, loss of health care insurance, loss of collective bargaining rights and efforts by many in Congress to weaken Social Security, Medicare and public transportation.

Labor Day is the traditional start of political campaigns, and the 2012 presidential, congressional and state legislature elections will be a referendum on the future of organized labor and retention of all organized labor has achieved for Americans.

These achievements, all at risk in today’s harsh political climate, include collective bargaining rights, a minimum wage, the right to be heard and to present workplace grievances, an end to discrimination in hiring, overtime pay, paid holidays and vacations, employer provided health care insurance, compensation for workplace injuries, and workplace health and safety regulations.

Although UTU members are mostly secure in their jobs because of outstanding representation, here is a sampling of the climate facing working families in America today:

* Fewer than 7 percent of private-sector workers today belong to a labor union.

* According to a recent Gallup poll, only 52 percent of Americans have a positive opinion of labor unions – 78 percent among Democrats, but only 26 percent among Republicans.

* Across America, 14 million Americans are unemployed, nine million part-time workers cannot find full-time employment, and almost seven million Americas have given up looking for work.

* The current 9.1 percent unemployment rate does not include part-time workers seeking full-time work or those who have given up looking for work.

* Since 2008, average annual wage increases have been less than 2 percent.

* There are currently almost five unemployed workers for every job opening.

* To reduce the current 9.1 percent unemployment rate to 5 percent, the economy must create an average of 282,000 jobs per month. In August, zero new jobs were created, and the job creation rate of an average of 240,000 new jobs monthly during the boom years between 1993 and 2000 still falls short of the 282,000 target figure to reduce the current 9.1 unemployment rate to 5 percent.

* The unemployed finding new jobs generally suffer a 20 percent reduction in earnings.

We know from history that in union there is strength. As we look ahead to the 2012 elections, it is essential that all members of working families eligible to vote are registered and go to the polls on Election Day to elect labor-friendly candidates, regardless of political affiliation. Union members have one of the highest rates of participation in elections, and that enthusiasm and effort must continue.

With assistance from the UTU’s political consultant, the UTU’s national legislative office and state legislative directors, the UTU will be keeping members informed about labor-friendly political candidates.

Participation in the UTU PAC is also important in helping to elect labor-friendly candidates, as these contributions assist them in delivering their message to voters.

Being involved with your union is also essential, and this includes attending meetings of your local.

If you believe in something strong enough, you fight for it.

We can turn things around in America, but it requires solidarity to win this fight and emerge stronger than ever, so that on the Labor Days of the future, organized labor and working families all have something of substance to celebrate.