SMART to Blue Green Alliance: No Path Forward

Published: November 25, 2019

After months of attacks on SMART members green jobs by lobbying group AAM, SMART will leave the Blue Green Alliance and pursue green jobs agenda through other partnerships.

Washington, D.C.—The International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) announces its separation from the Blue Green Alliance (BGA) after over a decade of participation. Upon serious consideration, SMART sees no path forward within BGA due to the hypocrisy of its founding member organization.

This decision is not made due to any concern or differences with the stated mission and vision of the BGA, nor any actions of BGA staff who have been exemplary. To the contrary, our commitment to green jobs is now sharply at odds with the seemingly duplicitous actions by a founding member of BGA. We cannot support the BGA while the United Steelworkers (USW) lobbies for legislation that will destroy the livelihoods of 800 SMART members at BYD USA in Lancaster, CA. These members build electric buses for public transit agencies, manufacturing jobs that exceed Buy America thresholds and are covered by both a community benefits agreement and a collective bargaining agreement.

This is NOT a union jurisdictional dispute. SMART is not competing with the USW to represent workers. It is also not a dispute over Buy America thresholds, since BYD USA exceeds these. Instead this is a laser focused attack that corrodes any ability to work in a coalition to raise standards, create green jobs, and build solidarity. The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), a lobbying group run by steel industry representatives, is attacking the work our members do in Lancaster in order to promote a defense bill that would prohibit public funding being used to purchase buses made by BYD USA. They have disseminated misleading and xenophobic security concerns about the buses made by our members in Lancaster, CA.

Several leading environmental groups—including BGA member organizations—have shown support for BYD’s efforts to develop clean air solutions for U.S. transit systems. This makes the actions of the AAM potentially even more short-sighted and destructive, and a betrayal of the BGA stated mission.

By continuing our participation in the Blue Green Alliance, we would be betraying our rank-and-file members and the many community partners that have supported these good green jobs. Therefore, we will continue to pursue the stated mission and vision of BGA—good jobs, clean infrastructure, and fair trade—but will do so with true partners.