SMART History

SMART’s history is made up of the history of the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association and the United Transportation Union which merged in January of 2008. Combined, these unions hold over 200 years of history and tradition which continue today. You can visit our 125th Anniversary website at for details about our history or view our combined timeline below.


– 1866 National Labor Union formed.


1868 – Founding of the Order of Railroad Conductors and Brakemen

– 1868 UTU predecessor, Order of Railroad Conductors and Brakemen (ORC&B) is established as the Order of Railway Conductors of America – 1873 UTU predecessor, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen & Enginemen (BLF&E) is established as the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen – 1881 American Federation of Labor (AFL) predecessor Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions formed – 1883 UTU predecessor, the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen (BRT) established as Brotherhood of Railroad Brakemen – 1888 Wind turbines for grid electricity invented – 1888 January 25: Tin, Sheet Iron, and Cornice Workers’ International Association established in Toledo, OH. President Archibald Barnes; Secretary A.W. Chatfield; Treasurer Robert Kellerstrass.


January 25: Tin, Sheet Iron, and
Cornice Workers’ International Association
established in Toledo, OH. President
Archibald Barnes; Secretary A.W.
Chatfield; Treasurer Robert Kellerstrass

– 1890 Tin, Sheet Iron, and Cornice Workers’International Association affiliates with the American Federation of Labor (AFL) – 1894 UTU predecessor, Switchmen’s Union of North America (SUNA) is established – 1896 Tin, Sheet Iron, and Cornice Workers’ International Association becomes the Amalgamated Sheet Metal Worker’s International Association (IA)

– 1896 First Canadian sheet metal local chartered in Toronto, Ontario – 1899 First charter granted to the union by the American Federation of Labor

– 1901 Sheet metal membership at 5,581 with 108 local unions

– 1902 Willis Carrier, a mechanical engineer from Buffalo, New York, designed the first air conditioning unit. Early units were very large, very expensive, and extremely dangerous because the ammonia used as coolant was highly toxic.

– 1902 Death Benefit program established


First Constitution of the Tin, Sheet Iron, and Cornice Workers’
International Association

– 1903 Name changed to the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Alliance; headquarters moved to Kansas City, MO in 1904

– 1906 Coppersmith’s International Union joins the IA

– 1908 AFL Building Trades Department charters Alliance

– 1912 Sheet metal workers affiliate with the AFL’s Railway Employees’ Department (RED)

– 1919 Alliance establishes Employment Committees to aid returning WWI veterans in finding jobs – 1919 General President Hynes endorses “Plumb Plan,” calling for railroad nationalization

– 1920 U.S. railroads returned to private industry; Railroad Labor Board established

– 1921 General Executive Council includes a member from the railroad industry

– 1922 400,000 railroad shop workers strike; federal injunction quashes union strike support activities; strike ultimately is defeated

– 1924 Name changed to Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association

– 1925 Pacific Coast Conference of Sheet Metal Workers agrees to affiliate with the SMWIA; membership at 24,000 with 441 local unions

– 1926 Railway Labor Act

1926 IA helps organize the Railway Labor Executives’ Association (RLEA) to develop industry-wide policies and coordinate lobbying efforts

– 1927 Members from Local 206 in San Diego, CA, build a major portion of what became the “Spirit of St. Louis,” the plane Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic in May 1927


The Spirit of St Louis, built by Local 206 members.

– 1929 Wall Street stock market crash

– 1931 Davis-Bacon Act passed

– 1932 Norris-LaGuardia Act enacted

shack– 1933 Dark economic times hit the sheet metal workers as publication of the Journal is suspended in favor of financing the death benefit fund

– 1933 Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen organizes interstate bus operators

– 1934 National Mediation Board (NMB) established by amendment to the RLA

– 1935 National Labor Relations (Wagner) Act passed

– 1935 Standard Form of Union Agreement endorsed at Chicago convention of SMWIA

– 1935 Social Security Act passes

– 1935 Committee for Industrial Organization (CIO) formed as a rival to the American Federation of Labor (AFL)

– 1936 RLA expands to include the airline industry

– 1936 Walsh-Healy Act – 1938 Fair Labor Standards (Wage Hour) Act

– 1942 During WWII, a number of members were engaged in secret work associated with development of the atomic bomb at different facilities across the United States.

– 1946 SMWIA membership doubled from pre-World War II numbers

– 1947 Taft-Hartley Act passed after Congress overrides a veto from President Truman

– 1947 SMWIA and SMACNA negotiate the Standard Form of Union Agreement (SFUA)

– 1947 SMWIA and SMACNA establish the National Joint Apprenticeship Committee – 1948 Journal publication revived after 15-year lapse – 1949 First National Apprenticeship Contest held in Washington, DC, at SMACNA Convention

– 1949 First 40-hour week for U.S. railroad industry

– 1951 First 40-hour work week on Canadian railroads

– 1952 First pension checks issued by Local 28 in New York City, NY. This program is a first of its kind in the building trades.

– 1954 First General Vice President in Charge of Railroads appointed

– 1955 Copper box for AFL cornerstone fabricated by Local 102 (Washington, DC) member Charles Heinz, employed at Paul Stromberg shop

– 1955 IA shopmen join in striking Louisville and Nashville Railroad while winning hospital and medical care benefits

– 1955 AFL-CIO merger – 1956 Supreme Court upholds union representation in railroad union shops, overruling a state right-to-work law. – 1956 Organizing Department established at IA – 1957 IA begins tracking industry products manufactured under collective bargaining agreements

– 1957 IA publishes Union Label directory

– 1960 Political Action League (PAL) launched

– 1961 SMWIA and SMACNA establish the Sheet Metal Apprentice and Training Foundation, which in turn publishes The Sheet Metal Craftsman, the first industry training manual

– 1961 SMWIA and SMACNA establish Joint Industry Fund via SFUA to finance educational and public relations campaigns

– 1962 SFUA developed for production workers

– 1963 SMWIA becomes first union to offer its members accident insurance, protecting members at work and at home in cases of accidental death.

– 1965 Missile silo fire and explosion kills 13 sheet metal workers

– 1966 National Pension Fund established for SMWIA members in construction and production occupations.

– 1969 Construction Users Anti-Inflation Roundtable established to undermine labor and labor’s hold on apprenticeship training and skilled workers (support nonunion construction contractors and “merit construction”)


United Transportation Union established in 1969.

– 1969 United Transportation Union established, merging four previously independent unions: the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen (BRT), the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen & Enginemen (BLF&E), the Order of Railway Conductors & Brakemen (ORC&B), and the Switchmen’s Union of North America (SUNA)

– 1970 International Association of Railroad Employees, a majority African-American union, joins with the UTU – 1971 National Maintenance Policy Agreement established to promote labor-management cooperation in the construction trades. – 1971 Article 10, Section 8 of SFUA adopted, establishing arbitration and mediation procedures between SMWIA and SMACNA – 1971 National Training Fund established to set national standards for apprentice training


National Training Fund established to set national standards for apprentice training

– 1972 SMWIA establishes Government Affairs Department

– 1973 SMWIA establishes SASMI (wage stabilization) program to help underemployed members affected by the recession.

– 1975 Canadian Council of Sheet Metal Workers established

– 1975 Engineering News Record names General President Edward J. Carlough its Construction Man of the Year – 1975 Local 30, Toronto, Ontario, sheet metal workers praised for extraordinary work on CN Tower

– 1981 National Energy Management Institute (NEMI) established

– 1982 Resolution 78 approved to help union sheet metal contractors bid specific jobs under flexible contract conditions

– 1983 publicity campaign against Brown & Root (B & R) launched, to expose the high, hidden costs of non-union construction

– 1983 International Job Bank launches

– 1983 SASMI adds Production & Industrial program – 1983 U.S. District Council of Railroads formed to coordinate activities of 47 railroad locals

– 1983 Office of Canadian Affairs opened

– 1985 Youth to Youth program launched to put apprentice members in the field as union organizers

– 1985 National COLA Fund is established to pay cost-of-living adjustments to retirees

– 1985 The Railroad Yardmasters of America (RYA) affiliate with the UTU

– 1986 Sheet metal workers praised for restoration work on the Statue of Liberty for its July 4 centennial celebration.

– 1986 National boycott of Toyota Motor Company initiated for their proposed nonunion and highly subsidized Georgetown, KY, assembly plant construction.

– 1986 Railroad Workers Department expands into Railroad and Shipyard Worker Department

– 1986 Sheet Metal Occupational Health Institute Trust (SMOHIT) established to address asbestos exposure in sheet metal workers.

– 1987 National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) passes Deklewa decision, allowing contractors to simply let union contracts expire.

– 1988 Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association celebrates 100th anniversary.

– 1988 Florence Carlough Scholarship Fund established as predecessor to the Sheet Metal International Scholarship program with 816 awards since 1988.

– 1990 Construction Organizing Membership Education Training (COMET) launched

– 1993 SMWIA Education Department established to provide courses for IA staff and local officers – 1993 More than 100,000 Canadian trade unionists march on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to protest NAFTA

– 1994 Production Workers Department established

– 1996 SMWIA launches first website:

– 1996 Mutual Gains Bargaining program initiated

– 1996 SMOHIT reports some 35,000 sheet metal workers and contractors examined for asbestos exposure in preceding 10 years.

– 1997 First mutual gains bargaining (MGB) seminar held in New Orleans

– 1998 National Training Fund renamed International Training Institute (iTi)

– 1999 Disaster Relief Fund established

– 1999 Show Me the Label educational campaign launched

– 1999 Best Practices Task Force established to increase industry marketing

– 2000 First SMWIA-SMACNA Labor-Management Partnership Bi-annual Conference held (later known as Partners in Progress Conference)

– 2000 Railroad and Shipyard Department urges a merger with a railroad union at a strategic planning session

– 2001 IA joins forces with IBEW, UA, Boilermakers, Insulators, and Ironworkers in the Mechanical and Allied Crafts (MAC)


Members working in lower Manhatten were amongst the first to rush to the scene during the 9/11 attacks.

– 2001 Immediately after the fall of the World Trade Center, construction and sign members working on sites across Manhattan rushed to join their fellow building trades members at Ground Zero in the search for survivors.  SMART Transportation Division members were operating the PATH trains that ran beneath the World Trade Center towers after they had been hit by hijacked aircraft and waited until the trains were filled to evacuate as many people as possible.

– 2003 SMWIA joins the Industrial Union Council (IUC), 14 unions representing workers in manufacturing

– 2004 SMWIA charters Local 41, the first SMWIA Local Union in San Juan, Puerto Rico

– 2004 IA and Painters union co-endorse a Unity Resolution, renewing the 1996 BCTD Solidarity Compact



subwaywtc– 2005 Change to Win Unions leave AFL-CIO

– 2005 MAC launched as a division of the BCTD

– 2005 First moves toward merger between SMWIA and UTU initiated

– 2005 New HVAC certification program offered to members

– 2006 Union Sportsmen’s Alliance created.

– 2006 Congress passes the Pension Protection Act (PPA)

– 2006 Benchmark software developed to complement BIM (Building Information Modeling)

– 2006 Live Up to the Promise video calls for standards of conduct

– 2006 Benchmark BIM training software initiative launched

– 2006 UTU re-affiliates with AFL-CIO

– 2007 SMWIA-UTU (SMART) merger agreement negotiated, approved by SMWIA GEC, ratified by UTU membership.

– 2008 SMWIA adopts Code of Excellence.

– 2009 Recognizing the future impact of green technologies, the SMWIA joins the Blue-Green Alliance.

– 2009 Code of Excellence endorsed by SMWIA and SMACNA.

– 2011 Merger of the United Transportation Union and the SMWIA confirmed by arbitration to form the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART)

– 2011 SMART joins massive labor and progressive community actions against multi-state attacks on workers’ rights.AFL-CIOexecmtg0227

– 2013 SMART receives official charter from the AFL-CIO

– 2014 SMART holds its First General Convention in Las Vegas, NV from August 12 to the 15th.