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.
In this month’s video address from SMART General President Joseph Sellers, he looks at the recent passage of the American Rescue Plan.
The plan does more than provide direct cash relief through payments to working Americans and resources for COVID-19 vaccination efforts. This critical legislation also provides long-sought help for multiemployer pension plans, puts Amtrak members back to work, boosts transit funding, provides COBRA assistance to jobless workers and funds a round of mitigation efforts to help get America’s schoolchildren back in the classroom through funds for air system monitoring and new HVAC retrofit work that will create sheet metal jobs.
SMART Local 20 Ships $2k in Plumbing Supplies to TX Members
CAROL STREAM, IL – SMART Illinois Locals 73, 219 and 265 have organized a “Texas water drive” to gather donations of bottled water and ship truckloads to families in Texas who lack access to clean water in the wake of the state’s recent winter storms and power outages.
As Texas’ power grid collapsed during frigid temperatures, causing some households to also lose access to clean water due to interrupted supplies or burst pipes, SMART Local 265 members began asking what they could do to help. They communicated with other members of the union in Texas and were told people needed clean water more than anything else.
“I hope it helps them with a small amount of relief to have the very basic necessity of water,” said Tom Syron, a Local 265 journeyperson who lives in Plainfield, Ill. Syron reached out to his local union president to see what they could do to assist and then helped spearhead the relief effort.
Local 265, which represents members serving the collar counties outside of Lake and Cook in Northeastern Illinois, launched a social media campaign to raise awareness of the specific need for water among its Texas members, as well as the community at large, and began to solicit donations. In less than 48 hours, the union mobilized to secure 16 pallets of water and two 26-foot trucks. Local 73 soon joined the effort, filling a third truck with donated water bottles. The three trucks rolled out from the Chicago suburbs for Texas early Wednesday morning, carrying a total of more than 30,000 bottles.
In Indiana, SMART Local 20 members purchased and donated more than $2,000 in residential plumbing supplies and fittings and shipped it all to SMART locals in Texas. The supplies will be given to members facing significant plumbing repairs after pipes froze and leaked during power outages.
“I could not be prouder of our members, our friends, our families and local employers that have contributed to this effort,” said SMART Local 265 President/Business Manager John Daniel. “We stand together when our members or communities need support, whether that’s in Illinois, Texas, or elsewhere. Actions like Tom’s make it very clear, the members are the union!”
“We stand together when our members or communities need support, whether that’s in Illinois, Texas, or elsewhere.”
– SMART Local 265 President/
Business Manager John Daniel
Daniel said donations came from hard-working members of the three SMART locals, as well as area employers, including John Hancock (which does recordkeeping for the union’s pension plan), The Dobbs Group of Greystone Consulting, Calibre CPA Group, Segal Consulting and Baum Sigman Auerbach & Neuman LTD.
SMART has more than 14,000 members in Illinois and over 7,500 members in Texas. Last Friday, the union contacted its locals across the country and quickly organized a national peer-to-peer text bank in which individual union activists from outside Texas reached out to members in Texas and asked how they were doing, did they need any help, and if so what would be most helpful. The text banking was critical to assessing what was actually happening on the ground, which Texas communities needed the most help, and where the union could set up staging areas for donated supplies as they arrived.
This February, SMART proudly joins with citizens across the United States and Canada to celebrate Black History Month. We honor the contributions of generations of Black scientists, activists, military members, public servants, writers, artists and more who have helped build our nations, shaped the labor and civil rights movements and worked tirelessly for justice and equality for all.
Blacks have also been groundbreaking labor organizers and developed numerous inventions that had major impacts across our economies, including in the North American rail industry. Here are just a few examples:
Andrew Jackson Beard was born a slave in Alabama. He became a railroad employee and introduced two improvements to the automatic railroad car coupler, or Jenny coupler, in 1897 and 1899, after losing a leg using the dangerous link-and-pin coupler. Using interlocking jaws, it was the first automatic coupler that allowed rail workers to avoid having to risk limbs while manually coupling cars. Beard was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio, in 2006 for this achievements.
A. Philip Randolph
A. Philip Randolph was an American labor leader and civil rights activist. In 1925, he organized and led the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first predominantly African-American labor union. In 1963, Randolph was the head of the March on Washington, at which Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech.
Stanley Grizzle was born in 1918 in Toronto to Jamaican immigrants. He was elected president of his local of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and pushed the Canadian Pacific Railway to open management ranks to blacks. He was also a leader in Canada’s civil rights movement of the 1950s and worked with the Joint Labour Committee to Combat Racial Intolerance.
Garrett Augustus Morgan invented a three-way non-electric automatic semaphore stop sign in 1923, which was the precursor to three-light electric traffic signals.
Elijah McCoy invented an automatic lubricator for oiling steam engines in 1872. It spread oil evenly over a train’s engine while it was still moving. This invention allowed for trains to run on long trips without stopping.
Granville Woods, known as the “Black Edison,” was a railroad fireperson and locomotive engineer who invented a telegraph system in 1887 that was used to communicate between trains and tower telegraphers to advise the distance between moving trains. He also invented overhead electric conducting lines in 1888 — now known as catenary wires; and a railroad air brake in 1902.
This year, Black History Month comes during a global pandemic that has hit minority communities the hardest, and shortly after domestic terrorists, including many self-professed white supremacists, attacked the U.S. Capitol and tried to stop the peaceful transfer of power following a presidential election.
Now, more than ever, our union is dedicated to advocating for both economic and racial justice, and to working for transportation and sheet metal industries that are inclusive and welcoming for all.
We face the challenges posed by the pandemic and by appalling attacks on our democracy the same way we approach shared workplace concerns: By standing together, mobilizing and organizing for a better future.
As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., noted in a December 1961 speech delivered at that year’s AFL-CIO convention, the struggles and challenges of the labor movement are tightly intertwined with those of African Americans and the civil rights movement: “Our needs are identical with labor’s needs: decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, and health and welfare measures…”
Now, more than ever, our union is dedicated to advocating for both economic and racial justice, and to working for transportation and sheet metal industries that are inclusive and welcoming for all.
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.
Over the past 1.5 weeks, the Federal Railroad Administration has published several notices in the Federal Register. Below are portions of those postings, including: Drug and alcohol testing: Determination of minimum random testing rates for 2021 (notification of determination); Qualification and certification of locomotive engineers – miscellaneous revisions (final rule); Positive train control systems (notice of proposed rulemaking); and Fatigue risk management programs for certain passenger and freight railroads (notice of proposed rulemaking).
Drug and alcohol testing: Determination of minimum random testing rates for 2021 (notification of determination) – (published 12/15/2020)
FRA is announcing the 2021 minimum annual random drug and alcohol testing rates for covered service and MOW employees. For calendar year 2021, the minimum annual random testing rates for covered service employees will continue to be 25% for drugs and 10% for alcohol, while the minimum annual random testing rates for MOW employees will continue to be 50% for drugs and will be lowered to 10% for alcohol. Because these rates represent minimums, railroads and contractors may conduct FRA random testing at higher rates.
To set its minimum annual random testing rates for each year, FRA examines the last two complete calendar years of railroad industry drug and alcohol program data submitted to its Management Information System (MIS). FRA has also, however, reserved the right to consider factors other than MIS-reported data before deciding whether to lower annual minimum random testing rates. See 63 FR 71789 (Dec. 30, 1998).
Random testing rates for covered service employees
The rail industry’s random drug testing positive rate for covered service employees (employees subject to the Federal hours of service laws and regulations) remained below 1.0% for 2018 and 2019. The administrator has therefore determined the minimum annual random drug testing rate for the period January 1, 2021, through December 31, 2021, will remain at 25% for covered service employees. The industry-wide random alcohol testing violation rate for covered service employees remained below 0.5% for 2018 and 2019. Therefore, the administrator has determined the minimum random alcohol testing rate will remain at 10% for covered service employees for the period January 1, 2021, through December 31, 2021.
Random testing rates for MOW employees
MOW employees became subject to FRA random drug and alcohol testing in June 2017. See 81 FR 37894 (June 10, 2016). FRA now has MIS data for two full consecutive years of the industry-wide performance rates for MOW employees, 2018 and 2019. While FRA may lower the minimum random drug testing rate to 25% whenever the industry-wide random drug positive rate is less than 1.0 percent for two consecutive calendar years while testing at the 50% rate, FRA has reserved the right to consider other factors before deciding whether to lower annual minimum random testing rates. See 63 FR 71789 (Dec. 30, 1998).
As illustrated in the figures in the appendix below, in contrast to the drug testing positive rate for covered service employees that remained substantially below 1.0% for 2018 and 2019, the random drug testing positive rate for MOW employees is not only trending upwards, but also approaching the 1.0% positive rate threshold at which point the administrator will raise the drug testing rate under 49 CFR 219.625(d)(2). Specifically, the industry-wide random drug testing violation rate for MOW employees increased from 0.69% in 2018 to 0.8% in 2019, and MOW employees continue to have a higher positive testing rate than covered service employees. The Administrator further notes that MOW employees who were performing duties for a railroad before June 12, 2017, were exempted from the pre-employment drug testing requirement. See49 CFR 219.501(e). As such, some MOW employees may remain who have never been subject to FRA drug testing because they have not yet been randomly selected.
Taking these factors into consideration, the administrator finds it is currently not in the interest of railroad safety to lower the random drug testing rate for MOW employees. Therefore, for the period January 1, 2021, through December 31, 2021, the administrator has determined that the minimum annual random drug testing rate will continue to be 50% for MOW employees.
Because the random alcohol testing violation rate for MOW employees remained substantially below 0.5% for 2018 and 2019, and has been trending downwards, the administrator has determined that the minimum annual random alcohol testing rate will be lowered to 10% for MOW employees for the period January 1, 2021, through December 31, 2021.
Qualification and certification of locomotive engineers; miscellaneous revisions (final rule) – published 12/15/2020
FRA is revising its regulation governing the qualification and certification of locomotive engineers to make it consistent with its regulation for the qualification and certification of conductors. The changes include: Amending the program submission process; handling engineer and conductor petitions for review with a single FRA review board (Operating Crew Review Board or OCRB); and revising the filing requirements for petitions to the OCRB. To ensure consistency throughout its regulations, FRA is also making conforming amendments to its regulations governing the control of alcohol and drug use, and the qualification and certification of conductors. The changes would reduce regulatory burdens on the railroad industry while maintaining the existing level of safety.
This regulation is effective January 14, 2021.
On May 9, 2019, FRA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 240, Qualification and Certification of Locomotive Engineers (part 240). In response to that NPRM, FRA received three written comments.
This final rule responds to those comments and amends part 240 by: Making part 240 more consistent with the language in 49 CFR part 242, Qualification and Certification of Conductors (part 242); creating two provisions under which railroads may issue temporary locomotive engineer certifications; merging FRA’s locomotive engineer and conductor review boards; adopting aspects of part 242 for locomotive engineer certification; providing labor representatives with the ability to provide input on a railroad’s part 240 program; and allowing for and encouraging the use of electronic document submission of a railroad’s part 240 program. This final rule also makes technical amendments to part 242 to: (1) Make the requirement for calibration of audiometers used during hearing tests for conductors the same as the requirement in part 240 for locomotive engineers; and (2) conform the definition of “main track” in part 242 to the definition of “main track” in part 240.
Additionally, this final rule makes conforming amendments to title 49 CFR part 219, Control of Alcohol and Drug Use (part 219) to update two cross-references to part 240. Updating these references is necessary to ensure consistency between part 219 and part 240, as amended.
The final rule will create new costs. First, each locomotive engineer certification manager will need to review the amendments made to part 240 to ensure compliance is maintained. Second, amendments to part 240 will require each railroad to provide a copy of its part 240 plan to the president of each labor organization whenever the railroad files a submission, resubmission, or makes a material modification to its plan. Third, a railroad will need to maintain service records for certified locomotive engineers who are not performing service that requires locomotive engineer certification. For the 20-year period of analysis, the cost of the final rule will be $233,779 (undiscounted), $171,764 (PV 7%), and $200,775 (PV 3%).
The final rule will also create cost savings. First, adding clarity in part 240 and conforming language in part 240 to part 242 will reduce stakeholder burden related to review and compliance with part 240. Second, it will reduce the burden on a railroad when providing another railroad with information about a former employee’s prior service records. Third, it will update the program submission process to allow for electronic document submission, which will reduce stakeholder paperwork and submission costs related to part 240 program submissions and locomotive engineer certification petitions. Fourth, it will remove the requirement for railroads to obtain a waiver from the annual testing requirements for certified locomotive engineers who are not performing service that requires certification. For the 20-year period of analysis, the cost savings of the final rule will be $12.3 million (undiscounted), $6.9 million (PV 7%), and $9.4 million (PV 3%).
As shown in Table ES.1, the regulatory evaluation quantifies the economic impact of the final rule in terms of cost savings and new costs accruing to stakeholders. For the 20-year period of analysis, the final rule will result in a net cost savings of $12.0 million (undiscounted), $6.8 million (PV 7%), and $9.2 million (PV 3%). This final rule is an Executive Order (E.O.) 13771 deregulatory action. Details on the estimated costs of this final rule can be found in the rule’s economic analysis.
The final rule will create benefits. First, the final rule will amend the part 240 program submission process to require railroads to solicit labor input, providing for fully informed decisions by railroads. Second, it affords railroads additional time and flexibility to comply with some regulatory requirements. Third, it creates certain provisions that allow for temporary locomotive engineer certificates. Fourth, electronic filing will make information more accessible to interested stakeholders and the public. Because FRA lacks sufficient information related to these four benefits, this analysis could not accurately quantify these benefits. Therefore, the rule’s economic analysis qualitatively explains benefits.
The final rule will also reduce Governmental administrative costs, including mailing, filing, and storing costs related to amendments to part 240, by allowing the Government and stakeholders to transmit and store documents electronically.
Positive train control systems (notice of proposed rulemaking) – published 12/18/2020
FRA is proposing to revise its regulations governing changes to positive train control (PTC) systems and reporting on PTC system functioning. First, recognizing that the railroad industry intends to enhance further FRA-certified PTC systems to continue improving rail safety and PTC technology’s reliability and operability, FRA proposes to modify the process by which a host railroad must submit a request for amendment (RFA) to FRA before making certain changes to its PTC Safety Plan (PTCSP) and FRA-certified PTC system. Second, to enable more effective FRA oversight, FRA proposes to: Expand an existing reporting requirement by increasing the frequency from annual to biannual; broaden the reporting requirement to encompass positive performance-related information, not just failure-related information; and require host railroads to utilize a new, standardized Biannual Report of PTC System Performance (Form FRA F 6180.152). Overall, the proposed amendments would benefit the railroad industry, the public, and FRA, by reducing unnecessary costs, facilitating innovation, and improving FRA’s ability to oversee PTC system performance and reliability, while not negatively affecting rail safety.
Written comments must be received by February 16, 2021. FRA believes a 60-day comment period is appropriate to allow the public to comment on this proposed rule. FRA will consider comments received after that date to the extent practicable.
Comments: Comments related to Docket No. FRA-2019-0075 may be submitted by going to http://www.regulations.gov and following the online instructions for submitting comments.
Instructions: All submissions must include the agency name, docket number (FRA-2019-0075), and Regulation Identifier Number (RIN) for this rulemaking (2130-AC75). All comments received will be posted without change to https://www.regulations.gov; this includes any personal information. Please see the Privacy Act heading in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document for Privacy Act information related to any submitted comments or materials.
Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to https://www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for accessing the docket.
Fatigue risk management programs for certain passenger and freight railroads (notice of proposed rulemaking) – published 12/22/2020
Pursuant to the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, FRA proposes to issue regulations requiring certain railroads to develop and implement a Fatigue Risk Management Program, as one component of the railroads’ larger railroad safety risk reduction programs.
Written comments must be received by February 22, 2021. Comments received after that date will be considered to the extent practicable without incurring additional expense or delay.
Comments related to Docket No. FRA-2015-0122 may be submitted by going to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
Instructions: All submissions must include the agency name, docket name and docket number or Regulatory Identification Number (RIN) for this rulemaking (2130-AC54). Note that all comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. Please see the Privacy Act heading in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document for Privacy Act information on any submitted comments or materials.
This proposed rule is part of FRA’s efforts to improve rail safety continually and to satisfy the statutory mandate of Section 103 of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA). That section, codified at 49 U.S.C. 20156, requires Class I railroads; railroad carriers with inadequate safety performance (ISP), as determined by the Secretary; and railroad carriers that provide intercity rail passenger or commuter rail passenger transportation to develop and implement a safety risk reduction program to improve the safety of their operations. The section further requires a railroad’s safety risk reduction program to include a “fatigue management plan” meeting certain requirements.
This proposed rule, if finalized, would fulfill RSIA’s mandate for railroads to include fatigue management plans in their safety risk reduction programs by requiring railroads to develop and implement Fatigue Risk Management Programs (FRMPs). As proposed, a railroad would implement its FRMP through an FRMP plan.
Under this proposed rule, consistent with the mandate of Section 20156, an FRMP is a comprehensive, system-oriented approach to safety in which a railroad determines its fatigue risk by identifying and analyzing applicable hazards and takes action to mitigate, if not eliminate, that fatigue risk. As proposed, a railroad would be required to prepare a written FRMP plan and submit it to FRA for review and approval. A railroad’s written FRMP plan would become part of its existing safety risk reduction program plan. A railroad would also be required to implement its FRA-approved FRMP plan, conduct an internal annual assessment of its FRMP, and consistent with Section 20156’s mandate, update its FRMP plan periodically. As part of a railroad safety risk reduction program, a railroad’s FRMP would also be subject to assessments by FRA.
Mike Mooney is in his 34th year as a SMART sheet metal worker. He started his Sheet Metal career in 1986, finished his 5-year Apprenticeship in 1991 and worked with the tools as a Foreman until 2000. In 2000, he was appointed as a Local 18 Union Organizer and continued in this position until 2005. In 2005, the membership elected Mike as their Milwaukee Area #6 Business Representative where he continued in this position until 2013. In 2013, he was elected to the Statewide position of Financial Secretary/Treasurer for Local 18 and he continued in this position until 2018 when he was elected as the President/Business Manager for Sheet Metal Workers’ Local 18 and he continues in this capacity today.
In 2018, Mike was also appointed as a member of the National Joint Adjustment Board (NJAB) and has also served on many committees for the International. In 2019, Mike was appointed to the Executive Board of Building Advantage. Building Advantage is a Labor Management council that promotes union construction in Southeastern Wisconsin. The Building Advantage Executive Board is made up of six labor and six management representatives, along with six industry advisors solving issues of mutual concern, promote use of union construction and recruitment of the future workforce.
The North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) and CPWR-The Center for Construction Research and Training released a new national standard for infectious disease exposure control practices for U.S. construction sites. These guidelines aim to prevent disease, disability and death caused by infectious disease exposure in lieu of federal action by OSHA.
The new national framework outlines planning and implementation elements with strong minimum standards, screening policies and the requirement of a comprehensive employer exposure control plan comprised of control measures, symptom checking, social distancing, training, hygiene and decontamination procedures.
“The COVID-19 pandemic clearly underscores the need for and value of a strong, adaptable and multi-purpose exposure control standard to prevent the spread of infectious diseases on U.S. construction sites,” said Sean McGarvey, President of NABTU. “Amid growing concerns across various industries regarding workplace safety in lieu of federal actions, the building trades are trying to do our best to protect our members and contractors on the job, and – for that matter- everyone in the construction industry.”
“With the broad and complex challenges from infectious diseases today, providing a framework of exposure control practices is critical. COVID-19 has not only raised awareness about the emergence and spread of infectious diseases, it has also provided the opportunity to advance their control,” said Chris Trahan Cain, Executive Director of CPWR-The Center for Construction Research and Training. “Given the current pandemic and the probability of future infectious disease outbreaks, this national framework will help the construction industry advance functions to better prevent and control infectious diseases and improve health on worksites.”
“In many places across the country, our unions, contractors, and project owners have already implemented these protocols,” McGarvey said. “The industry has been calling for a single national standard, and this is a product we highly recommend for owners, contractors, union members and all of our industry. We hope these guidelines will raise the bar to prevent and control infectious threats and improve safety and health management practices for not just construction, but all industries.”
In the fourth episode of Talking SMART, we continue our focus on the COVID-19 pandemic, its impact on our members and their communities, and how SMART is mobilizing across North America to help members stay informed and be safe at home and on the job during this crisis.
Our first guest is Steve Dodd, SMART’s director of government and legislative affairs. Steve addresses emergency stimulus legislation that passed in the United States, as well as its impact on SMART members and their families.
We also talk with Chris Paswisty, an International Representative for SMART sheet metal workers and former business manager of Local 30 in Toronto, Ontario. He discusses the Canadian response to the pandemic and steps members and locals north of the border are taking to protect themselves.
Our third guest is Tommy Fisher, a 39-year SMART member, and longtime International Representative from Mobile, Alabama. He services SMART sheet metal members employed at locations affiliated with the Metal Trades Department of the AFL-CIO. He discusses the work SMART members do in the shipyard industry, how these worksites and employers are responding to the pandemic, and the current situation in the state of Alabama.
Our last guest is Tom Wiant, a 33-year sheet metal worker and financial secretary-treasurer at Local 33, which covers northern Ohio and West Virginia. Tom talks with us about how his local has been able to procure thousands of KN95 masks to protect members in his region, as well as how Local 33 has contributed to SMART’s national initiative to produce and donate metal nose piece strips to volunteers making face masks for health care workers and first responders.
In addition, listen for the open mic segment at the end of this episode, where General President Joseph Sellers answers questions from members about important topics facing them and their families.
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today announced an interim enforcement response plan for the coronavirus pandemic. The response plan provides instructions and guidance to OSHA area offices and compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) for handling coronavirus-related complaints, referrals and severe illness reports.
During the coronavirus outbreak, OSHA area offices will utilize their inspection resources to fulfill mission essential functions and protect workers exposed to the disease. The response plan contains interim procedures that allow flexibility and discretion for field offices to maximize OSHA’s impact in securing safe workplaces in this evolving environment.
“OSHA is committed to protecting the health and safety of America’s workers during this challenging time in our nation’s history,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt said. “Today’s guidance outlines commonsense procedures for investigating complaints related to the coronavirus, while also ensuring the safety of workers, employers and inspectors.”
The response plan outlines procedures for addressing reports of workplace hazards related to the coronavirus. Fatalities and imminent danger exposures related to the coronavirus will be prioritized for on-site inspections. The response plan contains procedures and sample documentation for CSHOs to use during coronavirus-related inspections. Workers requesting inspections, complaining of coronavirus exposure or reporting illnesses may be protected under one or more whistleblower statutes and will be informed of their protections from retaliation.
This memorandum will take effect immediately and remain in effect until further notice. It is intended to be time-limited to the current public health crisis. Check OSHA’s webpage at www.osha.gov/coronavirus frequently for updates.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment and assure work-related benefits and rights.
Below is a letter from Joe Delacrus, a Local 40 SMART Sheet Metal Worker in Groton, CT. His employer was asked by a local nurse to make the aluminum strips used on N95 masks so they could sew them in the cotton masks being made by volunteers around the Country. They are looking to separate orders by Zip code and direct first responders asking for strips to the Local Union in that area. Attached is the description of the part that we posted a video of on our Hillery Company Facebook to show other folks how we are making the parts.
To all SMART Union members,
I am employed at Hillery Company in Groton Connecticut and am a member of Local 40 Sheet Metal Workers Union. Hillery was asked by a local nurse to make the aluminum strips used on N95 masks so they could sew them in the cotton masks being made by volunteers around the Country . I posted a picture showing a small box of strips on March 24th and it has since gone viral. Hillery has take over 1,900 orders and shipped 500 totaling over 40,000 parts. We contacted our Business Manager (Dave Roche) and Business Agent (John Nimmons) asking for the Union to help and they filled 18 order sending out roughly 4,000 parts. Orders are continuing to pour in faster than Hillery can fill them, and we are reaching out to the International for help.
It is my hope that we can separate orders by Zip code and direct the folks asking for strips to the Local Union in that area. We need all hands on deck as this effort is too big for a small company in Connecticut. Attached is the description of the part that we posted a video of on our Hillery Company Facebook to show other folks how we are making the parts.
We have received requests from Hospitals and small sewing groups from every State and Canada. If we can connect folks with signatory manufacturers in their zip code the masks will go directly to folks in that immediate area. The Union has the infrastructure to handle this request and could mobilize this idea as early as Monday morning. Time is of the essence as orders for first responders will go unfilled as we cannot possibly fill them. It is my hope that SMART will share this email with the leaders of every local and send me the contacts. Our volunteers will match the requester with the closest contractor and ask they share this on their Facebook.
Hillery started a Go Fund Me to offset the price of shipping and had material suppliers donate the sheets of aluminum. We have also reached out to our customers asking for donations and have collected roughly $4,000.00 which seems to be covering the shipping. Please beware of folks asking for high quantities as we found some are trying to package an sell them.
Hillery copied the part from an N95 mask, but made it shorter to get more parts out of a sheet. The local seamstress we first gave the parts to gave us a sample mask and the strip works great, but could be different sizes depending on how you are cutting them. One manufacturer is using the drops from a .250” x 3” parting tool and that works great. Hillery sheared one 48” x 96” sheet in (16) 3” x 96” strips then tacked a spacer in two spots allowing us to cut 16 parts per hit. I am sure someone will have better ways and I encourage folks to post it on their website.
This is a grass roots effort and most of the folks asking for the strips are sharing stories about their loved ones going to work without protection. I am asking all of my brothers and sisters to join Local 40 in our mission to help us get past this Covid-19 catastrophe.
CDC guidelines state that employers should do the following to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
reduce transmission among employees,
maintain healthy business operations, and
maintain a healthy work environment.
As transportation workers are considered to be essential workers, even in a time of national emergency, making them exempt from stay-at-home orders issued by local, state and federal officials, it is paramount that these guidelines be followed so that the health of workers, co-workers, their families and the general public is not jeopardized by employers’ failure to follow CDC protocols.
If CDC measures are not being followed, workers are encouraged to report what they consider to be violations of CDC protocols.
Your union needs reports of what is actually happening in the field. If you are aware of an employee who has tested positive with coronavirus, or if a carrier is refusing to provide a clean and sanitized workplace as well as supplies for sanitation, please let us know by using this form.