For Chris Carlough, SMART Member Assistance Program (MAP) coordinator, the mission to help improve union workers’ mental health is personal. 

“I’ve been working with the SMART MAP program for probably about 10 years or so,” Carlough said during an interview with SMART News. “It’s important to me because I’m a guy that’s in recovery from drugs and alcohol, and I see the importance of talking about some of the issues – because people don’t like to talk about mental health.” 

Watch Chris Carlough discuss SMART MAP and mental health.

The SMART MAP offers mental health awareness and action training, enabling SMART mentors to provide support for members struggling with substance use disorder or mental health issues. The trainings are led by Carlough, who is working to build a compassionate, peer-based support system for members and their families. Carlough brings his own experience in recovery to reach a vulnerable population with a “tough-guy” mentality. 

“These trainings start with construction workers who are rough and tumble, who push some of those emotions down,” Carlough said. “‘Rub some dirt on it, pull yourself up.’ And at the end of these trainings, we have members saying they’re going to start doing therapy…and starting to work on some self-care stuff.” 

Carlough cited the epidemic of suicide in the construction industry as one of the motivating factors for his work. A CDC study from January 2020 found that the rate of suicides in construction is the second highest in the country: Compared with the national average, a person working in construction is 3.5 times more likely to take their own life.  

“A construction worker in this sense is more vulnerable to suicide than they are to the dangers of an actual construction site,” Carlough said. “When we saw that, we realized we needed to talk about this more.” 

Through the SMART MAP program, Carlough strives to increase dialogue, reduce the stigma, and get people the resources they need. 

“We’ve been able to pivot over the last few years to peer training,” Carlough said, “which is getting to our rank and file, people on the jobsite or in the shop, and really empowering them to go out there and be peer advocates for their members and getting people to be comfortable to have uncomfortable conversations.” 

This important mental health work is being recognized. SMART and SMOHIT received the union award for Mental Health Visionary at the inaugural Construction Working Minds Summit in 2022. In addition, Local 33’s (northern Ohio) Eli Baccus won a Mental Health Champion award in 2022, and Local 18’s (Wisconsin) Craig Holzem is the winner of the same award for 2023. 

This work is ongoing and relies on the involvement of all SMART members. Those interested in participating can reach out to their business manager, who can then contact SMOHIT.  


SMART, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, has endorsed Hillary Clinton as the union’s choice for President in the upcoming 2016 election.

Clinton stood out to members based on her strong leadership, experience, competency and unwavering support for working families. The selection process had input from a survey of the union’s U.S.-based members and from its leadership at the local, regional, and national levels.

SMART General President Joseph Sellers, Jr., said, “She has the real-world experience and dedication that makes her the right candidate to serve the interests of America’s working families in these turbulent times.”

Hillary Clinton Offiial Portrait

Sellers noted that “Secretary Clinton’s plans are detailed and well-reasoned. On the economy, she will build on our apprenticeship and training programs, expand and improve freight transportation and transit and address environmental concerns with investments in energy efficiency. All of these involve jobs that members earn their living in every day.”

SMART surveyed its diverse membership on the 2016 election in December. The poll focused on issues, not candidates, in order for member feedback to guide the union’s electoral efforts in every race, at every level, in 2016 and beyond.

Members overwhelmingly chose jobs and the economy as their most vital interest. On qualifications, members indicated they want leaders to possess the competency, broad experience and serious approach necessary to tackle the nation’s difficult domestic and international challenges.

These, combined with the membership’s preference, led the SMART General Executive Council to approve Secretary Clinton for the Union’s support. SMART will mobilize its members across the United States to help ensure that Hillary Clinton is elected to serve as the next President of the United States.

Sellers also acknowledged Senator Bernie Sanders, saying, “I thank him for his lifetime of unwavering support for working families and especially for ensuring that the everyday issues working families face are squarely addressed in this campaign.”


SMART is one of North America’s most dynamic and diverse unions. SMART’s 216,000 U.S. and Canadian members ensure the quality of the air we breathe, promote energy efficiency, and produce and provide the vital services that move freight and products to market and passengers to their destinations. We are sheet metal workers, service technicians, bus operators, rail engineers and conductors, sign workers, welders, production employees and more. 


Thanks to all of the delegates, members, guests and staff that made the First SMART General Convention a resounding success.

I have been involved in this union for 45 years. There has never been a more outspoken, honest, and hardworking General Executive Council than the one we have now. They do what is right for this membership. They make this union. It also helps having a great partner, a general secretary-treasurer who has your back and who makes you proud every day. Joe Sellers is a great leader.

We are now one union. I know that some differences of opinion among the membership remain as in any democratic organization that respects the right of each and every member to speak freely. I will always continue to encourage discussion, debate and your input on where we go in the future.

As I told the convention delegation, we are going to fight some, and we are going to bleed some. But in the end, we’ll all bleed the same blood.

We closed the convention on Aug. 15 as one union. We are not divided and we will not let anything divide us. A house divided will fall and we will never go that way. We have a combined legacy of 270 years. We must build on what previous generations have passed to us by furthering our mission to make this union even stronger in servicing our members.

I am telling you what I told the assembled delegates at the convention. All business managers, business agents, general chairpersons and local chairpersons must realize that service to the membership must come first. Whether they are representing airline, rail, transportation or sheet metal members, our leaders must continue their duty to represent the membership to the best of their ability.

This union’s leadership will not tolerate anyone who doesn’t represent their members. You don’t have to like Joe Nigro, but you do have to like and work for your membership.

Through education, strength and unity, we will fulfill our mission to make SMART the strongest union in North America.

As I noted in my column here last month, I was never as proud of our members as I was to see our sheet metal brothers and sisters standing shoulder to shoulder with our transportation membership at a rally held by employees on the Long Island Rail Road.

It was outstanding to see sheet metal workers and transportation workers getting together and fighting together on behalf of their brothers and sisters. When I walked into that parking lot with more than 3,000 people, I was so proud.

Our membership was successful in obtaining a fair agreement with the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority and I congratulate LIRR GO 505 General Chairperson Anthony Simon and his leadership team for that outstanding effort.

We departed our first SMART convention renewed, stronger and united. We will continue to forge a new future with the dignity, integrity and the honor that went into building this great union. To read and view coverage from the First SMART General Convention, visit your union’s website at

It’s all about our union, our members and our strength. Together, we are all SMART. 

Joseph J. Nigro
SMART?General President



smart125Members of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers using airline travel throughout the United States may have noticed a commercial touting the efforts of their labor organization.

The video is appearing on monitors at the gates of all American and U.S. Airways flights at the 48 airports listed on this attachment during CNN broadcasts in August and September.

The video was produced by Clearwind Media to brand the name and acronym of the new organization and to provide a positive message to the public.

To view the video, click here.

Clearwind Media has also produced a three-minute interview with General President Joseph Nigro about the organization. Listen to the audio interview here.

The International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers is conducting a survey to better understand your experience as a member of this union. Your participation in this survey would be greatly appreciated.SMART_logo_041712_300px

As a member of the Transportation Division of SMART, your feedback and insight are critical to discovering how we can ensure this union works better for everyone.

Below is a link to the survey, which should take less than a few minutes to complete. Please note the survey will close on Friday, May 17.

Click here to take the survey

Thank you for your participation.


By SMART General President Joe Nigro – 
We are one! Not only as a result of our recent merger, but also by the pledge we make to one another as union brothers and sisters.
The strength of organized labor lies in the hearts and minds of every union member who understands the meaning of allegiance.
President Obama used that term so effectively to set the theme of his second inaugural address: “What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’”
His call for collective action – action to address new challenges with new responses that still remain faithful to those founding principles – is no different from the pledge we made when we joined the SMWIA or the UTU.
We pledged our allegiance then, and we must reaffirm that commitment every day, to collectively make our merged union stronger and smarter.
When realizing a merger such as ours, we cannot always avoid spending time on issues like autonomy, titles, responsibilities and other minor details. Still, we have made real progress together to build SMART’s membership in bus operations, to reduce costs, and to keep our members informed about our finances and policies.
I can assure the UTU membership that the autonomy of the general committees of adjustment and the state legislative boards is not an issue that will derail our collective progress.
Now, we must work together – all of us, members and leaders – to ensure our representation is what it should be.
What does representation involve? What purpose does it serve? What does it mean to one who represents and to one who is represented?
Representation is what unions offer workers. It’s a big choice, in some cases, to put your job on the line to join a union. Once in the union, we as members want to be sure that we get what we pay for – that we’re not just a source of dues.
Strong representation is essential in such a diverse organization as SMART. Those who represent SMART members can do so only when they know, and listen to, the members they represent, when they understand members’ problems and challenges.
Our members are on the front lines with their employers and know first-hand whether the employers are living up to their labor agreements. Our members have to know that their union representatives want them to be recognized for the work they do every day, to be involved in the work of the union, and to be fully informed on any condition of employment that affects them or their family.
Our diversity in solidarity is our strength. As we reaffirm our allegiance to each other and to our union ideals, we can and will reach new heights. Together, we will use this year to brand SMART as the union of choice in sheet metal, air, rail, and transportation work.
This year we celebrate the 125th anniversary of this great union, born in Toledo, Ohio, on Jan. 25, 1888. The story of our past and its effect on our present and our future will unfold throughout the year through the commemorative theme: SMART Expertise Since 1888.
Please visit to learn more about the commemoration.

As the initial SMART Transportation Division convention will be held in 2014 – one year earlier than a UTU quadrennial convention that no longer will take place owing to the merger – plus a second SMART convention, UTU delegates are being asked to approve a $1 monthly International dues increase to be deposited into the convention fund.

The increase, if approved by delegates, will become effective Feb. 1, 2013.

Delegates will be participating in two conventions in 2014 – the Transportation Division convention and the initial SMART convention.

In a letter to UTU delegates, UTU International President Mike Futhey said:

“Not only will the time between the 2011 UTU convention and these conventions be reduced from the usual four year period, delegates will be participating in two separate conventions in 2014. Obviously, the total expenses are expected to increase substantially and available funds will be insufficient due to the shortened time period.

“As a result, the UTU Board of Directors voted to present to the delegates the $1 dues increase to be placed in the convention fund. The UTU board said it is their recommendation “to adopt the needed increase assuring your voice will be heard.”

Delegates have until Nov. 30 to return their ballots.

The UTU and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA), along with two other rail labor organizations, have filed a complaint with the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), alleging BNSF has expanded its harassment and intimidation of injured workers to include the targeting of witnesses.

In recent months, OSHA has imposed millions of dollars in sanctions against railroads – including BNSF – for violating federal laws that provide protections for injured rail workers and those reporting safety violations.

The UTU and the SMWIA – now combined as the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) — along with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen — filed a complaint with OSHA July 31 alleging that BNSF officials in Montana are attempting “to interfere with an OSHA investigation into possible violations of the Federal Rail Safety Act” as reported by BNSF employees.

BNSF has written to possible witnesses, asking if they would “object” to having a BNSF representative present during their interview by OSHA investigators.

“Plainly,” states the rail organizations’ complaint, “any employee receiving a communication like this, however innocently couched from the company, will be intimidated by the knowledge that the company is looking over his/her shoulder insofar as providing information to OSHA is concerned.”

The Federal Railroad Safety Act of 2007 extended whistleblower protection to employees retaliated against for reporting injuries, illnesses or safety concerns. 

The complaint filed with OSHA says, “We do not know how BNSF was able to identify these employees as witnesses,” as OSHA previously rejected a BNSF demand that OSHA disclose to BNSF the names of employee witnesses. OSHA told BNSF that “such requests are wholly inappropriate and that OSHA will not comply with them.”

OSHA previously has made clear that “the safety of railroad employees depends on workers’ ability to report injuries, incidents and hazards without fear of retaliation.”

The rail labor organizations urged OSHA to “immediately contact BNSF and sternly rebuke the carrier for this inappropriate conduct. The confidentiality protections in the Federal Railroad Safety Act’s governing regulations and OSHA’s Whistleblower Investigations Manual require nothing less.”

Additionally, the rail organizations cited a June 1 OSHA letter to BNSF stating that “OSHA assumes that BNSF [legal] counsel would be well aware of the conflict of interest that would inevitably arise if BNSF’s attorney were to represent both the corporation and non-managerial employees in a whistleblower case.” The complaint says, “Apparently, BNSF did not see fit to explain that conflict of interest when approaching these employees and offering to be their ‘liaison’ with OSHA.

“No railroad employee [should be] intimidated from filing a complaint initiating an OSHA investigation or from participating in such an investigation, or in any way retaliated against by his/her employer for doing so,” said the rail organizations in their complaint.

Between 2007 and 2012, OSHA received more than 900 whistleblower complaints under the Federal Rail Safety Act.

BNSF has a history of attempting to violate federal laws protecting workers. In March, following a complaint by the UTU and the SMWIA to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), BNSF rescinded a proposed new rule that would have required its employees to provide highly personal medical information.

The UTU and the SMWIA told the EEOC that the BNSF would be in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Civil Rights Act and other federal statutes by requiring employees provide the railroad with doctor’s notes, diagnostic test results and hospital discharge summaries that could disclose non-workplace injuries and illnesses. BNSF rescinded the proposed new rule prior to EEOC action.


More than 170 bus operators, mechanics, service employees and store keepers employed by the Los Angeles area Montebello (Calif.) Bus Lines are now UTU members after overwhelmingly voting, “UTU, yes.”

In the Los Angeles area, the UTU also represents employees of Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) and Santa Monica Municipal (Big Blue) Bus Lines.

Montebello Bus Lines transports some eight million passengers annually in the communities of Alhambra, Bell Gardens, Boyle Heights, Commerce, downtown Los Angeles, East Los Angeles, La Mirada, Montebello, Monterey Park, Pico Rivera, Rosemead, South Gate and Whittier.

UTU Alternate Vice President John England said, “Since International President Mike Futhey took office in January 2008, the UTU has set a record in organizing, with 29 new air, bus and rail properties organized and two raids on UTU properties turned back.”

England was joined in the organizing drive by Bus Department Vice President Bonnie Morr and Bus Department Alternate Vice President Brian Donald, along with Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA) organizers Manuel Gonzalez and Ernesto Tolentino. The UTU and SMWIA are now merged as the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) Workers.

Praised for their efforts in organizing fellow Montebello Bus Lines employees were bus operators Rachel Burciaga and Frank Garcia. “Rachel and Frank were an integral part of making this organizing campaign a success and it would not have been possible without their assistance,” England said.

U.S. Capitol Building; Capitol Building; Washington D.C.Public transportation funding, transportation jobs, workplace safety, Railroad Retirement and Medicare are under a mean-spirited and sustained attack by congressional conservatives who are trying to muscle their agenda through Congress prior to the November elections.

The UTU and Sheet Metal Workers International Association – now combined into the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) – along with other labor organizations, public interest groups, congressional Democrats and moderate Republicans are working on Capitol Hill to block these attempts, which could be devastating to working families.

UTU National Legislative Director James Stem and SMWIA Director of Governmental Affairs Jay Potesta outlined the conservatives’ agenda that has surfaced in proposed congressional transportation reauthorization and budget legislation:

* Cut $31.5 billion in federal transportation spending, which would threaten some 500,000 American jobs.

* Eliminate federal spending for Amtrak and expansion of intercity rail-passenger service and high-speed rail, with a direct impact on jobs associated with that service.

* Gut federal spending for the Alaska Railroad, which would force elimination of scores of train and engine workers represented by the UTU.

* Delay implementation of positive train control, which is a modern technology to reduce train accidents and save lives and limbs.

* Eliminate federal spending for expansion of local and regional transit service as Americans scramble to find alternatives to driving in the face of soaring gasoline prices. The federal spending cut would prevent the return to work of furloughed workers from budget-starved local transit systems and likely cause layoffs of still more transit workers.

* Encourage privatization of local transit systems, which would open the door for non-union operators eager to pay substandard wages and eliminate employee health care insurance and other benefits.

* Remove any requirement for shuttle-van operators, whose vehicles cross state lines, from paying even minimum wage or overtime – a proposal, which if enacted, could lead to applying that legislation to interstate transit operations.

* Eliminate Railroad Retirement Tier I benefits that exceed Social Security benefits even though railroads and rail employees pay 100 percent of those benefits through payroll taxes, with no federal funds contributing to Tier I benefits that exceed what is paid by Social Security.

* Replace direct federal spending on Medicare in favor of handing out vouchers to be used to purchase private insurance, which will undercut the viability of Medicare.

* Provide large tax breaks to millionaires and preserve tax breaks for Wall Street hedge funds that cater to the wealthy, while cutting by two-thirds federal assistance to veterans and public schools.

The UTU member-supported political action committee (PAC) is helping to fund election campaigns by labor-friendly candidates, and a labor-wide “get out the vote” drive will go door-to-door across America in support of labor-friendly candidates in advance of November elections.

In the meantime, UTU and SMWIA legislative offices will continue their education campaign on Capitol Hill, visiting congressional offices to explain the economic devastation the current conservative agenda would impose on working families.