SMART leaders urge full initiation of Defense Production Act

Published: April 8, 2020

The Defense Production Act (DPA) was invoked April 2 by President Donald Trump to expedite the manufacture and eventual distribution of supplies, especially ventilators, necessary to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first step in getting the products — including surgical masks, disinfecting agents and medical devices — to those who need them is to create and package them.

Right now. Sheet metal workers across the United States are fabricating new equipment and supplies to support our nation’s response to this pandemic. Volunteers have even stepped up to supply groups with vital parts in the production of new protective gear while union sheet metal workers from New York to Detroit and Wisconsin and everywhere in between are on the front lines constructing new medical facilities to handle the surge of new COVID-19 patients.

While members are busy producing supplies as fast as they can, these supplies also need to be transported to the places that are most in need.

This is where the United States freight railroad network comes in. The full scope of the DPA must be employed to strongly and decisively react in the quickest way possible, including the engagement of railroads’ nationwide reach. The greatest volume of goods and material needed to help the country recover in the least amount of time will be delivered by the men and women operating the trains that travel America’s railroad network.

Thousands of rail workers have been furloughed by the country’s largest rail carriers in recent years. These people must be put to work to deliver life-saving equipment to major metropolitan areas struggling to contend with the coronavirus. Any half-measure will result in more lives being lost.

Sheet metal and transportation workers stand at the ready to assist. All that is needed is full invocation of the DPA and a wave of labor will help to first fight the pandemic and then to wipe out the economic devastation it has created.

Sincerely,

Joseph Sellers, Jr. Jeremy R. Ferguson
General President, SMART President, SMART Transportation Division