Talking SMART

Fighting for Freight Rail Safety

This photo taken with a drone shows portions of a Norfolk Southern freight train that derailed the night of Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, in East Palestine, Ohio, and was still on fire at mid-day Saturday, Feb. 4. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

In this episode of Talking SMART, we’re digging into the fight to improve rail safety on both the state and federal levels in the weeks following the disaster in East Palestine, Ohio. 

The East Palestine derailment and other well-publicized accidents since have made clear what SMART-TD and rail labor have been saying for years: So-called “Precision Scheduled Railroading” undermines rail safety and is bad for workers, the public and the environment.

SMART-TD Alternate National Legislative Director Jared Cassity and SMART-TD Government Affairs Representative Daniel Banks joined Talking SMART to discuss current efforts to pass state and federal rail safety legislation, as well as how members and allies can get involved.

At the end of this episode, listen to the open mic segment with SMART General President Joseph Sellers, who discusses what SMART is doing to recruit nonunion sheet metal workers and meet the workforce needs presented by megaprojects, infrastructure investment and more.

New Benefits and Incentives for Sheet Metal Travelers

This episode, we’re talking about how a wave of new megaprojects – or projects valued at over $1 billion – is creating unprecedented job opportunities for SMART sheet metal workers across the United States and Canada, as well as driving new changes and growth in the benefits available to SMART members. 

To meet the ongoing demand for sheet metal workers, SMART and SASMI are coordinating to expand travel incentives and benefits available to SMART sheet metal workers who are willing to travel for work, and the International is developing resources to help local unions organize to secure more work for SMART members.

Our guests for this conversation are SMART Director of Organizing Darrell Roberts, Local 265 President/Business Manager and SMART 11th General Vice President John Daniel and SASMI Executive Director Ken Colombo.

Throughout the conversation, Roberts underscored how the large volume of pending work presents huge growth and organizing opportunities for SMART, as well as challenges for locals in terms of staffing these large projects. Colombo, meanwhile, detailed the new and increased financial incentives for SMART sheet metal workers willing to travel for work. And Daniel emphasized how megaprojects and new work stemming from infrastructure legislation are driving SMART to innovate to meet workforce needs across our two nations.

“Our absolute need to grow, paired with the megaprojects, the infrastructure spending,” said Daniel, “that’s going to create the opportunity for us to meet the numbers that we need moving forward. And it’s also going to drive us to evolve as an organization.” 

At the end of this episode, listen to an open mic conversation between SMART General President Joseph Sellers and a SMART Local 24 (northern Ohio) member about megaprojects, traveler opportunities and how members can get involved with the union. Talking SMART is a member of the Labor Radio Podcast Network — working people’s voices, broadcasting worldwide 24 hours a day.

Talking SMART is a member of the Labor Radio Podcast Network — working people’s voices, broadcasting worldwide 24 hours a day.

Episode 24: Belonging and Excellence for All (BE4ALL)

This episode, we’re talking about the Belonging and Excellence for All effort, also known as BE4ALL. As a joint effort of SMART, union signatory contractors in SMACNA, and the International Training Institute, the project is tasked with working to ensure that all members, particularly those from historically underrepresented groups, feel welcome and experience all the opportunities that come with being a union member. In short, BE4ALL is a bold, long-term effort to transform the unionized sheet metal industry by creating workplace and business environments that are welcoming and foster belonging for ALL workers and contractors.

From left: Dushaw Hockett, SMACNA past President Angie Simon, SMART General President Joseph Sellers and SMACNA CEO Aaron Hilger.

We have a special guest host this episode – Dushaw Hockett, founder and executive director of Safe Places for the Advancement of Community and Equity (SPACEs), a Washington, DC-based organization that is working with SMART and SMACNA to move forward with the Be4All project.

At the SMART Leadership Conference in San Francisco in August 2022, Hockett sat down with SMART General President Joseph Sellers, SMACNA CEO Aaron Hilger and SMACNA past President Angie Simon to discuss how both organizations are working together to build a thriving industry where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, everyone feels welcome, and sheet metal workers and contractors work together to achieve the highest standards of excellence in their skills and crafts.

We hope you enjoy the conversation… 

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TALKING SMART is the podcast of the the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, a diverse union of more than 200,000 members. Each month, we bring you news, guests and discussions of interest to working families across the United States and Canada.

Talking SMART is a member of the Labor Radio Podcast Network working people’s voices, broadcasting worldwide 24 hours a day.