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AFL-CIO Retirement Security Working Group Applauds House Passage of Multiemployer Pension Relief

 

 

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler joined the co-chairs of the AFL-CIO Retirement Security Working Group, UFCW International President Marc Perrone and SMART General President Joseph Sellers, in the following statement on the inclusion of multiemployer pension relief in the American Rescue Plan, which passed the House today:

 

After a lifetime of hard work, working people deserve to retire with dignity. The labor movement is proud of our negotiated multiemployer pension plans, which have provided retirement income security for millions of working people for decades. Reckless Wall Street behavior, industry deregulation and employers’ deviant use of corporate bankruptcy have threatened the financial security of millions who’ve worked hard only to have that promise robbed from them. The provisions included in this package are important steps that will help eligible retirement funds protect the retirement benefits we earned by sacrificing wage increases.

The current pandemic has only exacerbated the dire situation and the need for immediate action.  The legislation contains provisions designed to help protect some plans that are currently healthy from sliding into insolvency because of the unprecedented economic shutdown, and also goes a long way toward stabilizing the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and the multiemployer pension system overall. This system not only provides retirement income to the 10.4 million hardworking Americans who participate in the multiemployer plans, alleviating the need to rely on government safety-net programs that already are stretched thin, but also generates more than $158 billion annually in federal tax revenue that benefits communities across the country.

The Senate should act quickly to send this relief to President Biden’s desk so we can keep the promise of a secure retirement for those who have earned, and deserve, nothing less.

 

Union Plus Offers Help to Those Impacted by the Severe Winter Storms in Texas

If you are a union member who participates in certain Union Plus programs and have been affected by the severe storms in Texas, you may be eligible for financial assistance through the Union Plus Disaster Relief Grant program.1

 

Union Plus Disaster Relief Grants of $500 are available to eligible participants of one of the following programs:

 

To qualify for a Union Plus Disaster Relief Grant:

  1. Your residence must be in a county qualifying for individual assistance money from FEMA. To check if your county has been designated as an area eligible for individual assistance, visit FEMA’s disaster declarations page.
  2. You must have had a Union Plus Credit Card for at least three months, Union Plus Personal Loan for at least six months, Union Plus Mortgage, Union Plus Retiree Health Insurance, Union Plus Life or Accidental Death Insurance or Union Plus Auto Insurance for at least 12 months with that account or policy in good standing (be up to date on payments).

If you participate in the Union Plus Credit Card Program and want to apply for a disaster relief grant, call 1-800-622-2580.

If you participate in any other of the designated programs and want to apply for a disaster relief grant, call 1-800-472-2005.

The Union Plus Disaster Relief Fund has provided nearly $1 million in assistance to union members facing hardships following Hurricanes Michael and Florence, floods and other natural disasters. Head to the Union Plus Disaster Relief Fund page to learn more about the benefits and eligibility requirements.

1Certain restrictions, limitations and qualifications apply to these grants. Additional information and eligibility criteria can be obtained at https://www.unionplus.org/hardship-help/disaster-relief-grants.

 

2The Union Plus Credit Cards are issued by Capital One, N.A. pursuant to a license from Mastercard International Incorporated.  Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

 

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SMART and SMACNA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement

In recognition that working together on diversity, equity and inclusion within our industry would be the most effective way to effect real and lasting change, SMART and SMACNA have engaged in ongoing discussions about recruiting and retaining a diverse and inclusive workforce with the skills to meet our needs now and in the future. In an initial step affirming our joint objectives, the SMACNA Board of Directors and the SMART General Executive Council adopted the following statement at their respective January 2021 meetings:

SMACNA and SMART recognize that diversity strengthens our workforce, benefits our communities, and makes the unionized sheet metal industry stronger and more competitive by reflecting the communities where we operate and the people we serve. To affirm our commitment to diversity and inclusion, we have agreed to develop, with the help of experts, a coordinated strategic plan with long-term and short-term objectives which will be evaluated and adjusted as necessary. Our unified goal is to shift the mindset of management, labor leaders, and our respective memberships to recruit, welcome, and retain the most competent and skilled workforce available while embracing differences in age, ability, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, national origin, language, marital status, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, and other characteristics that make individuals unique. SMACNA and SMART are strongly committed to take the necessary steps to achieve our goal of a diverse industry with no tolerance of bullying, harassment, or discrimination. We will provide regular updates on our progress on the strategic plan and on our continued work to promote our shared values of diversity, inclusion, and equity.

SMACNA and SMART are now in the process of developing a strategic plan to help us reach our goals and build the foundation of an industry dedicated to equity and inclusion.

President Biden Moves To Advance Worker Rights In Workplace

President Joe Biden made good on a promise to support workers and the labor movement on his first day when he fired National Labor Board General Counsel Pete Robb within 24 hours of taking office.

Robb, a former union buster with a virulently anti-union record, refused Biden’s request to resign on inauguration day. No president had previously fired an NLRB counsel, though one anti-union counsel resigned at the request of President Harry Truman in 1950.

The position of NLRB General Counsel wields significant power in the field of labor power because it is the General Counsel who decides which cases to prosecute while administering how to follow the law when cases are argued.

Robb had spent the past few years advancing numerous employer-friendly arguments and interpretations of the National Labor Relations Act. He made it a priority to allow employers to unilaterally modify contract terms and narrowed the scope in which union stewards and representatives could operate at the worksite. He also helped shape employer-friendly NLRB decisions that resulted in what some call a “slap on the wrist” when employers violate the law.

SMART Statement on Biden Administration

SMART was stunned and horrified by the attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol building two weeks ago, which was encouraged by Mr. Trump and resulted in the murder of a U.S. Capitol police officer.  Despite this attack on our beloved country, healing is coming soon. Today, Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn in as President and Vice President of the United States. Before even taking office, President Biden had already shown that he will prioritize working Americans and that unions will have a seat at the table in the Biden administration.

The Biden-Harris Transition Team has engaged with unions, including SMART. Our very own David Bernett, NEMIC Administrator and member of Local 12-SM in Pittsburgh, PA, served as a volunteer on the U.S. Department of Labor Agency Review Team for the Biden-Harris Transition. SMART attended meetings with various Transition teams and emphasized our members’ priorities, including two-person crews, protecting our pensions, rail safety, indoor air quality, bus driver assaults, prevailing wage, and action to help our members during the COVID-19 pandemic. SMART even met with a member of the Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board to discuss the importance of indoor air quality and the value offered by our union and its high-skilled workforce.

President Biden has been listening. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was nominated to serve as Labor Secretary and lead the Department of Labor.  He is a member of the Laborers and has fought for working families his entire career. In addition, Pete Buttigieg was nominated to serve as Transportation Secretary and lead the Department of Transportation. He has committed to addressing worker needs and invest in our infrastructure. SMART applauds these nominations.

The Biden administration will stand up for our members and their families after four years of empty promises. SMART looks forward to working with the Biden administration and will hold the administration accountable to its promises to build an economy that lifts up American working families.  SMART will keep its membership informed every step of the way.

SMART Condemns January 6 Assault on American Democracy

We have just witnessed a sad day in American history.  Leave no doubt, these violent, anti-democratic actions were sown by the incitement of the current president and his elected apologists, who have misled their supporters for far too long.

SMART, along with our sisters and brothers across the labor movement, rejects any threat to our nation’s peaceful transfer of power, and stands ready to defend our nation’s democratic institutions.

 

North American Building Trades Call for President Trump to Step Down Immdiately

The North America’s Building Trades Unions’ (NABTU) President Sean McGarvey released the following statement in response to the mob of domestic terrorists that attacked the U.S. Capitol building during the electoral college certification proceedings:

“Today’s despicable events are unprecedented, and, as we have all seen, are extremely dangerous. North America’s Building Trades Unions call on President Trump to immediately step down and transfer power per the Constitution and the Presidential Succession Act of 1947. If he refuses, the Cabinet must immediately invoke the 25th amendment to remove the President. Any less action by the Cabinet, and America should consider them all coconspirators.

“We also call on Senators Cruz and Hawley to immediately resign along with the twelve other U.S. Senators and the 140 House members objecting to the Electoral College certification. They all must step down immediately.

“We call on a bipartisan commission to investigate and identify all planners, funders, and coordinators of this attempted coup and refer them to prosecution by the U.S. Justice Department, and further for them to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

“If these actions are not taken immediately, in anticipation of what is already one of the worst domestic episodes in our country’s history, things could get much worse over the next 14 days very quickly. Thus, we urge all law-abiding Americans to stand up and demand the same to protect our precious democracy from tyrants and thugs.”

The North America’s Building Trades Unions is an alliance of 14 national and international unions in the building and construction industry that collectively represent over 3 million skilled craft professionals in the United States and Canada. Each year, our unions and our signatory contractor partners invest over $1.6 billion in private-sector money to fund and operate over 1,900 apprenticeship training and education facilities across North America that produce the safest, most highly trained, and productive, skilled craft workers found anywhere in the world. NABTU is dedicated to creating economic security and employment opportunities for its construction workers by safeguarding wage and benefits standards, promoting responsible private capital investments, investing in renowned apprenticeship and training, and creating pathways to the middle class for women, communities of color and military veterans in the construction industry.

New SASMI COVID Benefit

As we get into winter the cases of COVID-19 are continuing and even increasing. The SASMI Trustees see a need for reinstituting the COVID-19 Wage Replacement Temporary Benevolent Disaster Relief Benefit. However, more is known about the virus and testing has become more available so that it is possible to accurately identify positive cases. Accordingly, the Trustees have modified the Benefit to reflect the current situation.
 
This updated benefit is available for those who test positive for COVID themselves, or for a family member who resided with them that tests positive and have a need to quarantine. This benefit is only available if you were/are not being compensated for those day in quarantine by any Employer or Trust Fund under any Federal, State or Locality law (some due to expire prior to the end of the year) or special resolution.
Starting November 2020 and continuing until the Trustees modify or terminate the benefit, in each calendar month, a Participant is eligible for up to two (2) work weeks (10 work days) of wages at eight (8) times the Average Hourly Wage on which Contributions were remitted in the Employee’s Home Local for each day of quarantine.
 
 

SMART Mourns the Death of Larry Willis

“SMART joins labor unions across North America in mourning the loss AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department President Larry Willis.

Brother Willis was a tremendous leader who provided determined guidance, measured action and stood undaunted by the multitude of challenges transportation labor in our country faces now, and will continue to face going forward.

With wide ranging experience as a lawyer, congressional staff member, policy expert and worker advocate, he brought a deep understanding of policy and transportation issues to his work. He forged strong relationships with government and political leaders and worked tirelessly to help unite and build power for transportation workers across the United States.

Along with working families across the transportation trades, SMART will miss his leadership, his tremendous insight and his deep well of experience. We are filled with sadness for his family and friends at this tragic loss and mourn with them.”

Statement on the Result of the 2020 Presidential Election

The following is a statement from SMART General President Joseph Sellers, Jr. on the election of Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris:

 

“On behalf of the men and women of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART), we congratulate President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their historic election.

The American people have spoken loud and clear.  The diligence and respect election officials held for every legitimate vote strengthens the moral authority of our American democracy and the vital importance of free and fair elections.

SMART looks forward to a Biden-Harris Administration that puts working Americans interests ahead regardless of party and we look forward to working alongside him to recover from the brutal pandemic and economic decline that resulted from the response to it.

It is time for politicians of all stripes to put down their political differences and put our nation back on track towards a stronger, healthier, more prosperous and unified democracy that works for all Americans.”

 

Action Request: Stand With Your Brothers and Sisters at Amtrak

The livelihoods of thousands of transportation workers have been disrupted by COVID since its onset this past spring.

Our brothers and sisters at Amtrak are the latest to have their lives upended by this pandemic.

Nearly 2,000 of the carrier’s unionized workers, including 500 SMART brothers and sisters were targeted recent furloughs that are to go into effect on November 1.

To make matters worse, Amtrak is cutting service at a moment when people in the Midwest and others who may not feel comfortable flying need an alternative and accessible means of transport that only Amtrak can provide.

Click here to take action today.