Posts Tagged ‘General President Joseph Sellers Jr.’

SMART leaders urge full initiation of Defense Production Act

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

Members out in force in Kansas City

From left, Local 1409 Legislative Representative Dan Bonawitz Jr., TD Vice President Brent Leonard, Washington State Legislative Director Herb Krohn, TD President Jeremy Ferguson and Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo participate in an informational picket on Tuesday, Nov. 5, in Kansas City.

General President Joseph Sellers Jr. and TD President Jeremy Ferguson both participated in a town hall meeting and informational rally in Kansas City on Nov. 4 and 5 to draw attention to Union Pacific’s closure of the Neff Yard that resulted in about 200 lost jobs.

The event received local media coverage and was a success, said Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo.

“it was a great event,” Dragoo said. “We had over 170 members there. We’re definitely moving forward.”

More coverage of the event will be forthcoming.

Happy Labor Day From GP Sellers

Brothers and sisters, let me wish you and your family a Happy Labor Day.
This past month, we completed our Second SMART General Convention where transportation and sheet metal members stood together to work on focusing on the future to position our Union for the rapid changes coming to all our industries.
We worked to stay ahead of the curve to better serve Sheet Metal and Transportation Division members. We need to unify our voice and our vote to fight against anti-union and hostile influences that put members, families and our communities at risk. We worked on ensuring greater representation, organizing efforts, protecting registered apprenticeships, rail, bus and transit safety.
We learned all too well that elections have consequences, and the 2020 election is on us. We need to be laser focused on protecting our members and our careers by supporting our union values.
Ten years ago, a group of anti-union politicians were elected with disastrous results. Their immediate priority was to push through attacks on collective bargaining across the United States along with the passage of right-to-work laws from coast to coast. Due to the 10-year reapportionment of state and federal seats, they got to choose their voters and cemented their position in government. Unfortunately, bad policy is contagious and is also threatening to infiltrate the Canadian government in the upcoming federal election.
This time, we are taking their power to harm working families away and fighting back to build a better future for members and all working families.
Labor Day is a day founded to honor workers — the women and men who make sure both our nations are running straight and true. Remember the sacrifices of previous generations of workers that we honor on this and every Labor Day. Make sure you are signed up for the Political Action League or TD PAC and recognize the sacrifices and the foundation they made for us were not in vain.
Fraternally,

Joseph Sellers, Jr.
SMART General President

SMART TD Regional Meeting: President Previsich says FRA action will not go unchallenged

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — In closing remarks to the SMART Transportation Division Regional Meeting July 3, TD President John Previsich said that recent actions of government agencies under the umbrella of the federal Department of Transportation will not go unchallenged.

Actions by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regarding safety issues have shown that those agencies have stepped away from their duties of overseeing the safety of communities and of the nation’s transportation workers, he said.

SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich addresses the closing session of the San Diego Regional Meeting at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel on July 3.

The FRA’s withdrawal of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in May plus a similar action within days by the FMCSA that withdrew a notice regarding bus operator safety is a starting point to what will be a challenging period for our union, Previsich said.

All options, including litigation, are being explored to challenge what Previsich had described in testimony before a U.S. House Subcommittee as FRA’s abdication of its safety oversight responsibilities by withdrawing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding minimum crew size. Attorneys general from every state that have implemented legislation requiring two-person freight crews are being invited to join with labor to protect the state laws.

The effort will address FRA’s abuse of authority by withdrawing the NPR, ignoring the comments that were overwhelmingly in favor of a two-person crew rule and the agency’s attempt to pre-empt state laws. It will be a “concerted” effort with other labor organizations.

Previsich said that the union is planning on a multi-faceted approach to take on FRA while also challenging Congress to pursue legislation to correct FRA’s refusal to oversee safety on the nation’s railroads.

Attendees at the July 3 closing session of the San Diego Regional Meeting listen to TD President John Previsich’s remarks at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel.

State legislative action surrounding two-person rail crews also will be ongoing, he said, and more details of our efforts as well as additional actions for members to take will be communicated in the near future.

“There is going to be a big push coming,” Previsich said. “We are going to reach out to you when the proper time comes and ask for your assistance. I think your members will be proud of their union and where we’re going with this.”

To do something immediately, members should take the time to watch the video of the House subcommittee hearing. There they will see who supports our efforts, and what opponents are saying.

All brothers and sisters should then contact their legislators directly to explain our issues to their U.S. House and Senate representatives, and why the current bills regarding transportation safety are important. An in-person visit, an option advocated by National Legislative Director John Risch during the Regional Meeting’s opening session, helps to personalize and drive these issues home no matter what political party the public official identifies with.

The TD Legislative Action Center is a one-stop repository that has information on federal bills advocating bus and transit operator safety, freight rail crew size and yardmaster safety.

Our brothers and sisters also should donate to the SMART TD PAC.

“There’s nothing more important in this environment today — in this political climate that we’re in — that we get access, and we get access through PAC,” Previsich said.

On the second day of the meeting, SMART General President Joseph Sellers, Jr. addressed the new leaders in attendance and encouraged them to take advantage of all resources available to them in both the Washington, D.C., and in the Cleveland offices.

The TD Regional Meeting theme — “Your Union Leading the Way” — was particularly appropriate this year — members “need to understand that ‘Your union’ is our union … 200,000 members are part of our union,” Sellers said. “And ‘leading the way’ means you leading the way, meaning us leading the way meaning leaders and members leading the way.”

In a time of upheaval in the industries that SMART members are employed in, efforts to grow the organization will continue to be a priority, and officers will take an important role in those efforts.

“We must continue to grow. We must organize, organize, organize — internal organizing, external organizing, making sure every worker is a SMART member,” Sellers said.

SMART General President Joseph Sellers, Jr., delivers opening remarks on Tuesday, July 2, the second day of the SMART Transportation Division Regional Meeting in San Diego, Calif.

From all levels of the union, it is up to everyone to take responsibility for the safety of themselves and build and maintain a strong foundation and maintain a powerful and nimble network that can take collective action to protect ourselves and the legacy our union represents, Sellers said.

“I want to make sure that we continue to build that foundation, that we continue to form this union so that future generations will have the same opportunity, enjoy that same representation, enjoy the same benefits of a collective bargaining agreement and enjoy a retirement particularly at a time when many people won’t have a retirement or work pension.”

Support from the SMART Army has brought results — members’ efforts beat back Right to Work For Less legislation in Washington one day after a call for mobilization at the state’s Capitol, and helped to get two-person crew legislation passed in Colorado and Nevada this year. They’ve also mobilized to defend proposed pension changes in Congress.

“As we build that, we will do better,” he said.

To join, text SMART Army to 21333.

In closing the meeting, Previsich announced that the 2020 TD Regional Meeting will be held in its home base of Cleveland, Ohio, at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown from Aug. 24 to 26.

The three-day San Diego meeting at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel featured more than 30 educational workshops intended to assist officers and strengthen our union at every level.

SMART TD Regional, Day 2: GP Sellers calls for strength, unity in battling attack on labor

SEATTLE — SMART General President Joseph Sellers Jr. said Tuesday that the union will move in a unified direction at all levels in the fight against the ongoing attack on labor by monied right-wing interests.

His call to action at the second day of the SMART Transportation Division Regional Meeting came a week after the Janus v. AFSCME case that overturned the ability of public sector unions to collect agency fees from “free-riders” — people who are represented by a union and benefit from union negotiating on areas such as health care and contract negotiations but do not pay dues.

SMART General President Joseph Sellers Jr. addresses the second day of the TD Seattle Regional Meeting at the Westin Hotel.

SMART General President Joseph Sellers Jr. addresses the second day of the TD Seattle Regional Meeting at the Westin Hotel.

“Our theme — Strength through Unity — that is perfect and appropriate for this time,” Sellers said. “We need to roll our sleeves up. We need to put sweat equity into the changes that we need to make on behalf of our union, on behalf of your local on the behalf of the good and the welfare of our members and members to come.”

The 5-4 decision in a fractured U.S. Supreme Court drives a wedge between unions and the financial resources unions have to spend representing workers, weakening unions’ ability to represent and protect workers, Sellers said.

Janus is a reversal of the 1977 precedent-setting Abood v. Detroit Board of Education case, a 9-0 decision made by what SMART Transportation Division General Counsel Kevin Brodar described Monday as a “who’s who” of Supreme Court justices. Current Justice Samuel Alito and four other conservative justices banded together for the reversal.

“This is supposed to be the most honorable court in the world, the most independent court in the world, but this is a radical act — a radical act to undo decades — four decades — of precedent,” Sellers said.

And already the agents of big business are beginning campaigns to reach out to members of the affected public-sector unions — traipsing through neighborhoods and knocking on doors, trying to convince members to stop supporting their union financially.

“They’re going out there and they’re spending their money and the Koch brothers as we heard yesterday continue to go after unions and working people and working families,” Sellers said.

Those big-money businesspeople hate that unions such as SMART and other AFL-CIO members have financial resources to leverage — the Janus decision is one way those one-percenters are trying to reduce labor’s clout, divide unions and also to lower wages and benefits for workers.

It’s already evident in the 28 right-to-work-for-less states, where benefits and wages decline across the board. Workplace safety also deteriorates, with occupational fatalities in those states going up 14 percent in the 24 years that right-to-work-for-less has existed, Sellers said.

“This is big business and this is the far-right. This is the majority at this time … but with our heart and our hard work, that will end in November,” Sellers said. “That is where our strength comes from — 200,000 members in our organization working together pulling on the rope together in the same direction, making sure that we are not weakened.”

He called upon local chairpeople to intensify their organizational efforts and communication — the union’s “grassroots campaign.”

“We need to make sure that we have our game together,” Sellers said. “We need to make sure that we educate our members. We have a mid-term election coming up, and we can change that paradigm, but it’s not going to happen by itself. It’s not going to happen without our hard work.

“We need to be laser-focused as we fight back and take back one or possibly two branches of this government.”

Sellers said that the SMART Army’s community activism efforts, face-to-face contact and the use of avenues such as social media and text messaging will also help make SMART stronger, more united and improve communication with members.

“We need to make sure that we, at every level of this organization, are fighting back with one voice,” he said.

To join the SMART Army and stay up to date, members should text “SMART” to 21333 and follow the prompts. Messaging and data rates may apply.

SMART endorses Hillary Clinton for President

Sellers

Sellers

SMART, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, has endorsed Hillary Clinton as the union’s choice for President in the upcoming 2016 election.

Clinton stood out to members based on her strong leadership, experience, competency and unwavering support for working families. The selection process had input from a survey of the union’s U.S.-based members and from its leadership at the local, regional, and national levels.

SMART General President Joseph Sellers, Jr., said, “She has the real-world experience and dedication that makes her the right candidate to serve the interests of America’s working families in these turbulent times.”

Hillary Clinton Offiial Portrait

Clinton

Sellers noted that “Secretary Clinton’s plans are detailed and well-reasoned. On the economy, she will build on our apprenticeship and training programs, expand and improve freight transportation and transit and address environmental concerns with investments in energy efficiency. All of these involve jobs that members earn their living in every day.”

SMART surveyed its diverse membership on the 2016 election in December. The poll focused on issues, not candidates, in order for member feedback to guide the union’s electoral efforts in every race, at every level, in 2016 and beyond.

Members overwhelmingly chose jobs and the economy as their most vital interest. On qualifications, members indicated they want leaders to possess the competency, broad experience and serious approach necessary to tackle the nation’s difficult domestic and international challenges.

These, combined with the membership’s preference, led the SMART General Executive Council to approve Secretary Clinton for the Union’s support. SMART will mobilize its members across the United States to help ensure that Hillary Clinton is elected to serve as the next President of the United States.

Sellers also acknowledged Senator Bernie Sanders, saying, “I thank him for his lifetime of unwavering support for working families and especially for ensuring that the everyday issues working families face are squarely addressed in this campaign.”

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SMART is one of North America’s most dynamic and diverse unions. SMART’s 216,000 U.S. and Canadian members ensure the quality of the air we breathe, promote energy efficiency, and produce and provide the vital services that move freight and products to market and passengers to their destinations. We are sheet metal workers, service technicians, bus operators, rail engineers and conductors, sign workers, welders, production employees and more. 

General President’s father, Joseph Sellers Sr., dies

Joseph Sellers Sr., age 77, the father of SMART General President Joseph Sellers Jr., died Thursday, Dec. 10 at Arden Courts, Warminster, Pa.

Sellers Sr. worked for 40 years as a sheet metal worker and was a member and union official for the SMWIA (now SMART) Local 19 in Philadelphia. Even after his retirement, Sellers Sr. remained involved in the union.

He is survived by his son, Joseph (Elizabeth) Sellers Jr., Elizabeth A. Sellers, Anne (Jay) Lavancher; and three grandchildren, Ashley Forsythe, Nicholas Sellers and Alexandra Sellers. Sellers Sr. is preceded in death by wife Elizabeth, parents Robert and Mary (O’Connor) Sellers, and four brothers and two sisters.

A funeral mass was held the morning of Wednesday, Dec. 16 at St. Bede the Venerable Church in Holland, Pennsylvania.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, Delaware Valley Chapter, 399 Market St., Ste. 102, Philadelphia, PA 19102 or to the Sheet Metal Workers Local #19 Scholarship fund, 1301 S. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19147.

Click here to view Sellers Sr.’s obituary or to leave condolences for the family.