Posts Tagged ‘Joseph Sellers’

First 100 days a victory

We have long heard the phrase, “Elections have consequences.” This past election reflects the concrete truth behind the power of your vote and how it can be used as a force for positive change.Nowhere is it more apparent for many members than in the gains made for working families in the American Rescue Plan (ARP) that the Biden Administration, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have succeeded in passing. This piece of legislation put people and workers on the agenda by restoring the health of our nation — our economic and our physical health. Because of the change in the White House, as well as the slim pro-worker majority in Congress, the elected officials SMART endorsed were able to secure $86 billion in federal financial assistance to protect the retirement benefits of workers and retirees in critical and declining multiemployer pension plans.

Thanks to the victories obtained in the 2020 election, we are seeing relief for working families. We see legislation that finally benefits those who built America, and not the 1 percent…

Make no mistake, SMART’s Sheet Metal National Pension Fund is not among those listed as financially troubled. As a side note, SMART-TD railroad members mostly rely on Railroad Retirement. Over a decade ago, our leaders began addressing shortfalls in the retirement system that were being predicted, produced through no fault of the nation’s workforce. Due to the effects of the 2000 – 2001 recession, then 2008 – 2009 financial crisis and lax bankruptcy laws, Wall Street CEOs reversed their pension promise made to their employees while keeping their golden parachutes. We saw what the disastrous effects of these trends would look like and sacrificed to ensure our retirement funds would be secured for now and for future generations of members.

The retirement security included in the ARP is without any of the onerous strings that were previously put on the table by Senate Republicans and the past administration when pension aid was being considered. No 11-fold premium increase. No additional union or employer fees. No retiree tax/benet cuts. No devastating plan requirements.

After a lifetime of hard work, working people deserve to retire with dignity. We are proud of our negotiated multiemployer pension plans, which have provided retirement income security for millions of working people for decades.

However, since the 1980s, multiemployer plans have been jeopardized because of a series of bad policy decisions. Unfair trade deals decimated domestic industries, reckless deregulation toccurred in trucking and housing, and pension plan tax policy all were contributing factors.

The COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated the dire situation for these plans and reinforced the need for immediate action. Last year’s layoffs across every sector of the American economy resulted in an unprecedented loss of plans’ contribution income.

Thanks to the victories obtained in the 2020 election, we are seeing relief for working families. We see legislation that finally benefits those who built America, and not the 1 percent who have received bailout after bailout and mammoth income tax cuts, only to leave the rest of us holding the bag. This Administration has held a laser-like focus on the other 99 percent of us and has committed to uphold the campaign promises from the past election. As you will see in this issue of the Members’ Journal, this includes COBRA assistance for those who lost their jobs during the pandemic as well as funding to ensure our brothers and sisters at Amtrak can return to work. It also equips sheet metal members with new work opportunities through funding to retrofit antiquated HVAC systems in our schools and public buildings. These are only a fraction of the pro-worker agenda items acted upon in this Administration’s first 100 days.

Thanks to the Biden-Harris Administration and the Democratically led Congress, millions of Americans who worked their entire adult life to secure a safe retirement will have peace of mind.

Fraternally,

Joseph Sellers, Jr.
General President

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 General Convention notice to locals

SMART_logo_041712_thumbnailInternational Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers General Secretary-Treasurer Joe Sellers Jr. has issued the following SMART General Convention notice to all local union presidents, business managers, financial secretary-treasurers and local Transportation Division secretaries.

“Dear Brothers and Sisters:

“As you know, the SMART General Convention will be held the week of August 11, 2014. The International Constitution provides in Article Seven (7), Section 3(f), that no local union or council shall be eligible to represent or vote in the Convention unless all dues, fees and other obligations due this Association are paid in full. In order to be eligible to send delegates to the Convention, a local union’s obligations for all months through and including May 2014 must be paid in full by June 15, 2014.

“You are further advised that the number of delegates and votes to which a local union is entitled at the General Convention will be determined on the basis of each local’s administratively accredited membership as of June 1, 2014. Accordingly, it is imperative that Local Union Financial Secretary-Treasurers and Transportation Division Treasurers have their May 2014 reports and official receipts or the Transportation Division required dues confirmations filed with the General Office by June 15, 2014.”

Fraternally,

Joseph Sellers Jr.
General Secretary-Treasurer

View Sellers’ letter here.