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SM LU 71 Opens New Buffalo Training Center

A former manufacturing facility that was once a neighborhood eyesore was renovated and reconstructed into a new two-story, 7,200-square-foot building that today houses an expanded, updated training facility for future generations of SMART Local 71 sheet metal workers. With an expected demand for new training classes, a third adjacent property was also acquired from the City of Buffalo to be used as additional parking for the renovated structure.

The nearly $1.3 million project on Liberty Avenue cleaned up and reused a former brownfield site to merge three separate properties into one state-of-the-art facility that will introduce future generations to the trade while relying on clean energy upgrades applied to the facility.

To assist in the funding of this significant rehabilitation and upgrade, SMART Local 71 applied for and was awarded $377,000 through the Empire State Development Authority.

“The transformation of a previously vacant brownfield site into a modern training facility for the members of SMART Local 71 is not just a strategic investment that will strengthen Buffalo’s manufacturing sector, it also advances key goals for the broader New York State economy.”

– Kevin Younis, Empire State Development Chief Operating Officer and Executive Deputy Commissioner.

“The transformation of a previously vacant brownfield site into a modern training facility for the members of SMART Local 71 is not just a strategic investment that will strengthen Buffalo’s manufacturing sector, it also advances key goals for the broader New York State economy,” said Kevin Younis, Empire State Development Chief Operating Officer and Executive Deputy Commissioner. “The state-of-the-art facility gives meaningful place-making purpose to an abandoned building and underutilized property in the city and ensures current and future generations of SMART Local 71’s talented, hard-working workforce have the critical training and necessary skills in construction, sheet metal production and metal fabrication to meet the demands of the industry.”

The groundbreaking was attended by a swarm of union leaders, members, staff and elected officials from every level of state government.

“As we reimagine our economy for a post-pandemic comeback, it’s more important than ever to make sure that success is accessible to all,” said current New York Gov. Kathy Hochul. “SMART Local 71’s expanded training center is training the next generation of skilled workers to help build the new Buffalo skyline and will further unleash the full potential of Western New York’s economy, connecting people with good paying jobs and ensuring no one falls behind during our recovery.”

Local 71 Business Manager Paul Crist, in his remarks at the groundbreaking added, that, “Sheet Metal Workers’ Local 71 committed to making the City of Buffalo our home in 2000. Since then, we have worked, saved and planned for this expansion, so we can continue our mission of training the next generation of Sheet Metal Workers.”

SMART members in Indiana pay tribute to trailblazing suffragist

Two SMART members were present to pay tribute to a trailblazing Indiana woman honored for her role in fighting for women’s right to vote in the early 20th century.

A statue honoring suffragist Mary Stuart Edwards was unveiled Aug. 26 in Peru, Ind., in a ceremony attended by Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch.

Edwards was a native of the city, located about 79 miles north of Indianapolis, whose organizing work and activism at the local, state and then later a national level from 1914 to 1926 helped to bring forth the national League of Women Voters.

TD Indiana State Legislative Director Kenny Edwards, no relation, and TD Local 206 (Peru, Ind.) Legislative Representative Pete Ulery were on hand for the event in a show of solidarity.

“Women’s suffrage is a sibling to the labor movement. Many are unaware of the struggle and the women who fought to gain the right to vote,” Edwards said. “These suffragists are no different than the proud men and women of SMART who fight for our rights and to advance and establish rights we don’t have yet but deserve.”

“Women’s suffrage is a sibling to the labor movement. Many are unaware of the struggle and the women who fought to gain the right to vote.”

– SMART TD Indiana State Legislative Director Kenny Edwards

Artist Cindy Billingsley sculpted the statue depicting Mary Stuart Edwards, who was born in 1880 and died in 1970, as a young girl with her bicycle. Edwards was said to be the first girl in her city to ride a bike and to go to college before embarking on her journey as a suffragist.

“What I hope women in particular will see when they visit this statue is what one woman can accomplish in her hometown, her state and her country,” Billingsley said. “We women must remember other countries are inspired by us, and young girls should be inspired to make a difference. That’s what this statue of a 12-yearold girl with a bicycle represents — hope — if Marie accomplished this, what can we accomplish next?”

Edwards said the event was a worthwhile and memorable one.

“It was a great day and SMART was a part of it!!”

PLA Victory Comes After Years of Hard Work

In 1999, when the Navy abandoned the Concord Naval Weapons Station in California, it became a great opportunity zone for the Concord community to grow and flourish. As early as 2005, SM Local 104 had been involved in the city of Concord’s process to imagine and develop the future of the land. From attending community meetings to shape the vision of the site to speaking up in hearings in support of a local union workforce helping construct the 30-year buildout, hundreds of rank-and-file Local 104 members have had their voices heard.
The site itself is on over 5,000 acres of land and will have over 13,000 new units of housing along with millions of square feet of commercial space. Over the last five years, Local 104 members have really stepped up their efforts and engaged in the political process in Concord. This includes helping elect local working family champions to city council, engaging in community cleanups and turning out at many community events. On January 20th, 2020, there was the biggest turn-out of Building Trades members in over a decade at a city council meeting anywhere in the Bay Area. With over 200 union construction workers, community allies and family members, members let Concord City Council know that a Project Labor Agreement was essential to meeting the needs of the Concord First Policy and ensuring that local workers and apprentices from joint-labor management programs would be hired on this project. This caused the original developer to walk away from the project, and with that, three new developers submitted proposals to the city for their vision of the project.
Most recently, as of August of this year, the Contra Costa County Building and Construction Trades Council secured a Project Labor Agreement with all three prospective developers. As Business Manager Rick Werner said, “This is a huge win and reflects the hard work our officers, staff and membership have put in to making this a reality. Once this project breaks ground, it will provide decades of work hundreds of our local members.”

Death of AFL-CIO President Trumka mourned by U.S. labor; Liz Shuler succeeds him at federation’s helm

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, which represents 12.5 million union members and 56 unions, passed away Aug. 5, 2021, at the age of 72.His death marks the passing of a legendary figure in the history of the labor movement. Brother Trumka devoted his life to working people, from his early days as president of the United Mine Workers of America to his leadership as the voice of America’s labor movement.

Trumka was a relentless champion of workers’ rights, workplace safety, fair trade based on workers’ rights, and the respect and dignity all workers should be afforded. He was also a devoted father, grandfather, husband, brother, coach, colleague and friend to many across the United States.

His passion for improving the lives of working families began early. He grew up in the small coalmining town of Nemacolin, Pa. Nearly all the men in his family, including his father and grandfather, were coal miners. Trumka followed them into the mines, working there as he attended Penn State and Villanova University law school.

Trumka began his rise in the labor movement in 1982 at the age of 33 when he became the youngest elected president of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). During his time at the UMWA, he led one of the most successful strikes in recent American history against the Pittston Coal Company, which tried to avoid paying into an industry-wide health and pension fund.

He was elected AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer in 1995 and held that post until 2009, when he was elected president.

His legacy is defined by his vision of an economy of shared prosperity for all working families. One that includes rising wages, equal pay, respect at work, safe jobs, secure retirement, and the freedom for all workers to form or join unions and bargain collectively.

He is succeeded by Liz Shuler, the first woman to hold the office in the history of the labor federation. Shuler was raised in a union household — her father was a lineman and longtime member of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 125 at Portland General Electric and her late mother, Joyce, worked as an estimator at the company. In 1993, Shuler was hired as an organizer at the local. When energy giant Enron Corp. tried to force electricity deregulation in Oregon, Shuler worked with a broad-based coalition of labor, community and environmental activists to overcome Enron’s powerhouse lobbying campaign.

In 1998, she was assigned to California where she mobilized IBEW members to help defeat Prop. 226, the so-called paycheck protection initiative that threatened to silence union members in the political process.

Upon her election, Shuler stated, “I am humbled, honored and ready to guide this federation forward.” She added, “I believe in my bones the labor movement is the single greatest organized force for progress. This is a moment for us to lead societal transformations — to leverage our power to bring women and people of color from the margins to the center — at work, in our unions and in our economy, and to be the center of gravity for incubating new ideas that will unleash unprecedented union growth.”

Initial Steps Taken as U.S. Government Works to Invigorate Labor

A recently released report from the Economic Policy Institute finds that decades of attacks on collective bargaining have been a driving factor behind depressed wage growth for working Americans over the last four decades, regardless of their union affiliation. The inability for workers to join or form a union at work, due to roadblocks enacted by a series of conservative courts and hostile Congresses, has only exacerbated this issue.

According to the report, the decades-long erosion in union membership has lowered the median hourly wage by $1.56, a 7.9% decline since 1979. When applied to a year’s wages, this comes to $3,250 annually for a full-time worker. Another study from the same group found that workers would be making $10 more an hour if their wages had kept up with increases in productivity during the same 40-year period.

The truth is that the results of the last presidential election gave labor a seat at the table, where for years working family issues had been sidelined.

The good news is this trend can be reversed, and there are serious efforts now underway by pro-labor elected officials to do exactly this. If you are reading or watching the news, you would imagine that what matters to your financial wellbeing is the last thing anyone on Capitol Hill is thinking about. The truth is that the results of the last Presidential election gave labor a seat at the table, where for years working family issues had been sidelined. With the focus in the media on sensational and divisive topics, one important story missing has been the renewed focus on rebuilding the American middle class.

Americans already saw the passage of the American Rescue Plan back in March. This legislation brought new job opportunities, now and into the future, for our SMART union families. It not only boosted jobs but retirement security as well, with $86 billion in funding for multiemployer pension plans. New child tax credits for working families and elements of the pending infrastructure package will not only increase funding for registered apprenticeship programs, apply labor standards and put members to work building schools and ensuring the quality of the air that our school children breathe, but will also add elements of badly needed labor law reform that will level the playing field for working families. This includes actual sanctions for companies that interfere with their employees’ rights to organize, from $50,000 per offense to $100,000 and punitive penalties for executives that encourage this unlawful behavior. Additionally, via the infrastructure package, Congress would reinstate the tax deduction for union dues with a $250 cap—an important provision for union workers that the Trump administration removed in 2017. These are significant steps forward and why SMART is fighting hard for Congress to pass the infrastructure package.

These important changes will play a big part in turning the tide for workers and collective bargaining. They will strengthen our unionized presence, enforce the fact that it is the workers’ right to organize and close the gap between where America’s wages are and where they should be.

It took decades of attacks from anti-labor legislators and courts to get us to where we are today. It will take some time to improve the state of collective bargaining to where we can rebuild America’s middle class and make sure opportunity is available to all who seek to achieve it. The responsibility continues with each of us.

Fraternally and in unity,

Joseph Sellers, Jr.
General President

SMART Capital: Expanding Work Opportunities in the Sheet Metal Industry

SMART Capital Program was launched in 2018 with the intent to help signatory companies expand into new markets to create more work opportunities for our members. The program creates a partnership between SMART International, Local Unions and signatory companies.

This program is one that allows Local Unions to partner with their signatory contractors to take on larger projects and modernize their operations to stay ahead of the competition as the industry evolves due to technological change. It also assists contractors with resources allocated to the acquisition of union and non-union competitors in order to expand our share of an increasingly diverse market while solidifying our hold on market segments we currently have a presence in.

This unique program partners with the local union and international funds to provide loan guarantees, additional bonding and assistance with equipment purchases.

This unique program partners with the local union and international funds to provide loan guarantees, additional bonding and assistance with equipment purchases. We have also expanded into a program to help start up I Want SMART as a pilot program in two local unions. This leverage secures an overall gain for both members and contractors alike as the expanded market presence strengthens our collective bargaining agreements while tapping into new pools of work opportunities.

The program is already in place across the United States at places such as SM Locals 10, 16, 24, 33, 67, 104, 105.

At Local 105, the SMART Capital program was used to assist a contractor with its acquisition of a non-union firm that saw the company not only establish a presence in the service side of the industry but bring in new positions to fill for current Local 105 members, with staffing levels of up to 80 members — up from 40 prior to when they secured the loan. Another signatory firm utilized a line of credit it secured through the SMART Capital program to establish a solid footing in more complex and larger projects that require the expertise of existing Local 105 sheet metal workers. The growth of the program saw this firm alone expand from six to forty-four Union sheet metal workers.

In the coming months and years ahead, the SMART Capital program is only going to continue to grow as we look to prudently push to expand our reach within the sheet metal industry to create new good paying union jobs. Like all good investments, the relationship does not end with the culmination of the initial transaction. An analysis and review of the company’s financials are made, first ensuring that all trust fund obligations are met. It is only once this step has been achieved that the SMART Capital program begins working with commercial banks to provide underwriting and loan servicing — to ensure the stability of the investment in work hours is made in the best interest of the membership.

This type of innovative thinking is and will continue to be needed as we navigate a transitioning and competitive sheet metal industry while ensuring we continue to set the standard for decades to come.

At the end of the day, all stakeholders in the union side of the industry — the members, contractors and the end users who see their projects secured — come out ahead. This type of innovative thinking is and will continue to be needed as we navigate a transitioning and competitive sheet metal industry while ensuring we continue to set the standard for decades to come.

As my friend and brother Luther Medina, Local 105 Business Manager and SMART GEC member has said: “We told contractors we are here to help. This is a partnership and we have to work together. When a contractor grows, our membership grows.”

I could not agree more.


Joseph Powell
General Secretary-Treasurer

International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Mourns the passing of Richard Trumka

Statement from SMART on the passing of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:

On this hard and difficult day, our thoughts are with the family, friends and colleagues of Richard Trumka. President of the AFL-CIO since 2009, Trumka brought with him his immense reserve of experience, grit and know-how from his time as secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO and as president of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA).

A third-generation coal miner from western Pennsylvania, he began working in the mines at age 19 and supported himself while studying for his law degree at Villanova University. In 1982, he became president of the UMWA, where he fought tirelessly for mine workers.

He dedicated his life’s work to creating a nation that would leave no worker behind and serve as a society that rewards hard work. Richard Trumka never forgot who he was working for, nor did he forget the working-class principals for which he was fighting.

SMART joins our brothers and sisters across the labor movement and working people across the United States — and around the world — in mourning his loss.  His life’s work will continue, as we all continue the fight to ensure the hard work and sacrifices made by America’s working families are rewarded.

Trumka was a keynote speaker at the 2019 SMART General Convention. Click below to view a highlight from his address to more than 1200 convention delegates.

Three Field Support forums scheduled to answer Local S&T questions

Join the SMART_TD Field Support Department with your questions and get them answered!

Each session will begin with going over anything new, reminders or important tips or tricks. Then the floor will be open for all your questions. The forum will end when there are no more questions.

There is no need to pre-register for these Q&A forums. Join us by clicking the link for the session. Forums will be hosted using Microsoft Teams. If you have not joined us for a session in the past visit this page for info on how to get Teams set up prior to the forum. (Start with #3) You can also join by phone using the call-in phone number and Conference ID.

Wednesday August 25th 1 p.m. EST
Join on your computer or mobile app.
Or call in (audio only) +1 440-462-0346
Phone Conference ID: 978 528 22#

Wednesday September 22nd 3 p.m. EST
Join on your computer or mobile app.
Or call in (audio only) +1 440-462-0346
Phone Conference ID: 713 462 91#

THE ACADEMY OF RAIL LABOR ATTORNEYS: Protecting the FELA Through Experienced Legal Counsel

Over the past few years, some law firms who handle mass torts and advertise on a national scale through television and social media have focused their mass marketing on active and retired railroaders who have been afflicted with various forms of cancer and repetitive trauma orthopedic injuries. These firms represent to the public that they are “FELA specialists” with years of experience litigating against the rail industry and, not surprisingly, have generated a substantial client base. Numerous claims have been filed in various courts around the country with an underlying strategy of trying to overwhelm various railroads to the point of forcing settlement of all claims.

But, in reality, the attorneys handling these claims are neither members of ARLA nor railroad union Designated Legal Counsel. A path of destruction has ensued as the railroads have chosen fight over flight in addressing this onslaught of FELA claims. Just a few case examples include:

Holmes v. Union Pacific Railroad, Case No. SC98673 (Mo. 2021) – The Missouri Supreme Court affirmed dismissal of wrongful death FELA cancer case for counsel’s “carelessness, inattention, and deliberate disregard” in failing to timely appoint a personal representative of decedent’s estate as required under the FELA.

Wilant v. BNSF Ry. Co., Case No. N17C-10-365 (Del. Super. 2020) – FELA bladder cancer case dismissed on summary judgment following Daubert ruling striking plaintiff’s general medical causation expert.

Harder v. Union Pacific Railroad, Case No. 8:18-cv-58 (D. Neb. 2020) – Machinist diagnosed with NHL, FELA case dismissed on summary judgment following Daubert ruling striking plaintiff’s medical causation expert.

Kosin v. Union Pacific Railroad, Case No. 4:17-cv-2435 (E.D. Mo. 2019) – FELA bladder, lung and prostate cancer case dismissed on summary judgment as time-barred under FELA 3-year statute of limitations following decision by counsel to withdraw allegations that death was caused by exposures at the railroad.

Collins v. BNSF Ry. Co., Case No. 4:17-cv-3572 (S.D. Tx. 2019) – TY&E employee diagnosed with colon cancer, FELA case dismissed on summary judgment following Daubert ruling striking plaintiff’s industrial hygienist and medical causation experts.

York v. BNSF Ry. Co., Case No. 1:17-cv-1088 (D. Colo. 2019) – TY&E employee diagnosed with bladder cancer, FELA case dismissed on summary judgment following Daubert ruling striking plaintiff’s medical causation expert.

These cases all resulted in court losses for the plaintiffs, families not being made whole and moreover established negative precedents for future cases. The clients in the end sadly paid the price of these so-called FELA “experts” whose advertising presence dwarfed than experience in handling railroad-related cases.

If bringing a case against a carrier, the best and most effective choice is to engage a member of the Academy of Rail Labor Attorneys or a union-endorsed Designated Legal Counsel. They have been vetted by rail labor organizations, have proven experience, follow strict codes of conduct and will commit to giving each and every FELA case the precise focus it deserves while fighting for the best outcome for clients.

A list of SMART-TD Designated Legal Counsel can be found here.
More information about the Academy of Rail Labor Attorneys.

Local 58 opens new training facility

SMART SM Local 58 in Syracuse, N.Y., recently dedicated its new 8,700-square-foot training facility to retired instructors Angelo Massa and Charles Morehouse, naming it the Massa/Morehouse Training Facility. The state-of-the-art facility now offers training in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, architectural sheet metal, welding, specialty stainless steel work, custom fabrication, service, siding and decking, testing and balancing, and energy management and maintenance.

Angelo Massa, left, and Charles Morehouse.

Amit Bose nominated to be FRA administrator

Amit Bose, who has been serving the Biden administration as acting administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) since February, was formally nominated to become administrator of that body April 22.

Amit Bose has been nominated to lead the FRA.

Bose has years of experience serving in the public sector. He has served two stints as FRA deputy administrator, and has served as FRA chief counsel, USDOT associate general counsel and USDOT deputy assistant secretary for governmental affairs. While in the Obama administration, Bose worked on High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail grants for projects on the Northeast Corridor and has a longtime association with the corridor.

In addition to living along the corridor in West Windsor, N.J., and working for New Jersey Transit, Bose helped establish and later served on the Northeast Corridor Commission. He also participated in structuring the commission’s cost allocation policy, helped the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) deliver a $2.5 billion Railroad Rehabilitation and Infrastructure Financing (RRIF) loan to Amtrak for its next generation of Acela rail cars, and worked on the environmental review of a number of projects.

Read the announcement from the White House.

Local 73 Partners with IL Township and Jewel-Osco to Provide COVID-19 Vaccination Site

Photos by Dave Sylvester, Local 73

Hillside, Ill. – SMART SM Local 73 is partnering with Proviso Township and Jewel-Osco to provide added capacity for COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts, with its union hall functioning as a vaccine injection site. More than 1400 vaccines were administered today between 9am and 4pm at the local hall in Hillside, just west of downtown Chicago, for residents of any of the 15 villages in Proviso Township.

“This wouldn’t be happening in Hillside today without Local 73 stepping up and helping out,” said Hillside Mayor Joseph Tamburino, who was at the vaccination site throughout the day. “They set the room up and did everything we asked them to do and it’s fantastic. Their facility is just perfect for this.”

The union hall effectively functioned as a one-day pop-up vaccine clinic. The site was thoroughly cleaned and prepped ahead of time and a sanitation crew will be coming Monday night and doing a deep clean of the space.

“This wouldn’t be happening in Hillside today without Local 73 stepping up and helping out.”

– Hillside (Ill.) Mayor Joseph Tamburino

“We are proud to partner with Proviso Township, Jewel-Osco and Mayor Tamburino to provide a safe, convenient location for members of our community to receive their vaccine,” said Local 73 President and Business Manager Raymond Suggs. He added that the local is looking to help with additional vaccination days in coming weeks, depending on vaccine availability.

Nationally, SMART is part of a coordinated effort by U.S. building trades unions to make their facilities available to President Biden’s COVID-19 Relief Task Force for U.S. vaccine distribution. In February, the Governing Board of Presidents of North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) voted unanimously to offer more than 5,000 union halls and training centers to the vaccine distribution effort.