By SMART General President Joe Nigro – 

It was really great meeting so many of your leadership team at the recent regional meetings in Boston and Anaheim. They are an active and involved group with a commitment to the labor movement. It confirmed my belief in the potential value we have in joining forces on several fronts to build membership and greater influence at all political levels. I used the opportunity to talk candidly about the importance of finalizing the merger when the result of the current arbitration is received. As soon as we have that opinion, an interim SMART Constitution, comporting the Transportation Division Constitution (Article 21B) with the SMART Constitution in accordance with the Merger Agreement, will be effective until the adoption of a new SMART Constitution at the SMART General Convention, beginning Aug. 11, 2014.

Essentially, there are two stages in the process for developing a new constitution that will guide SMART’s operations for five years. Amendments proposed through the provisions of the Transportation Constitution (Article 21B) will be submitted for vote by the delegates at the Transportation Division Convention to be held June 30 – July 2, 2014. The approved amendments at that convention shall be submitted to the SMART Constitution Committee as recommendations. The SMART Constitution Committee, composed of delegates from both the sheet metal and the transportation operations of SMART, shall consider and submit all amendment recommendations for concurrence or non-concurrence by all delegates to the SMART General Convention.

Every member of SMART must be involved in the process. The SMART Constitution governs the union, its officials at all levels and, most importantly, the members. It’s really a contract between you and your union. To help keep you better informed and to make transparent the provisions of your membership, we’ve posted the current SMWIA Constitution, the Merger Agreement and the November 2011 Arbitrator’s Opinion and Award on the homepage. The interim SMART Constitution should be available in October to be posted on the website and the website. In addition, each SMART local will receive printed copies for members without access to the Internet to read at the local’s office. Most community libraries also provide access to the Internet.

I encourage you to submit any proposed amendments to your local union for consideration in preparing its amendments to be submitted to the respective Constitution Committees in accordance with the provisions in Article 13, lines 1-18, in the UTU Constitution and Article 33 in the SMWIA Constitution. If you have any questions, please send them to or to SMART Constitution, 1750 New York Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20006, for referral to the appropriate office.

As this publication is being finalized, thousands are marching and gathering at the Lincoln Memorial, just a few blocks from our offices, to commemorate the peaceful march in 1963 and Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Jobs and justice still require national attention and we must be involved in assuring those for ourselves and future generations.

Let me close by thanking Al Nowlin’s wife, Phyllis, for asking me at the Anaheim regional meeting to present a clock to her husband on the 35th anniversary of his becoming a union officer (local chairperson, Local 349 at Kansas City, Mo., and now general chairperson, GO 569). I really appreciate everything our wives do for us and our families because of the hours we are away from home.


Joe Nigro, SMART General President

This Labor Day, SMART General President Joseph Nigro will be present for the Omaha, Neb., Labor Day parade and other festivities. The SMART Transportation Division, led by Transportation Division Nebraska State Legislative Director Bob Borgeson, will also host other events at the Sheet Metal Workers Hall in Omaha Sept. 1-2.
The event kicks off with a “membership feed” Sept. 1 at 6 p.m. Members who show up will receive a T-shirt to wear for the parade. The Labor Day parade will be held Sept. 2 and line-up to walk in the parade is at 9 a.m. at 16th and Webster Streets. There will be mini-trains and a SMART TD caboose for children to ride on.
Eight Transportation Division locals and two general committees are expected to be in attendance. Members from Omaha, Lincoln, North Platte, Alliance and Scottsbluff, Neb. are expected to be represented as well as Council Bluffs, Iowa. Around 400 members from both the Transportation Division and Sheet Metal Workers are expected to be in attendance.
Members can view the UTU in the parade from the past four years by going to YouTube and searching “UTU Labor Day.”
Borgeson encourages all SMART members in the Omaha area from both the transportation and sheet metal divisions to attend. For more information, contact him at (402) 679-0872, or email him at

The SMART Transportation Division opened its Boston regional meeting July 1 with a town hall forum at which SMART members were able to pose questions directly to the union’s leadership.

More than 800 members, guests and presenters are attending the regional meeting.

After opening ceremonies and remarks from SMART General President Joe Nigro and Transportation Division President Mike Futhey, the presidents were joined by SMART General Secretary-Treasurer Joe Sellers and Transportation Division Assistant President and General Secretary & Treasurer John Previsich to respond to questions concerning the merger of the United Transportation Union and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association and other issues.

The session was moderated by Transportation Division International Vice President John Lesniewski.

futhey_nigro_boston SMART Transportation Division President Mike Futhey, left, and
SMART General President Joe Nigro prepare to receive questions at the
regional meeting’s town hall forum.

On Tuesday, July 2, U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) and Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman addressed meeting attendees during lunch, stressing the nation’s need to fund public transportation, address rail security needs and tend to its transportation infrastructure.

“We have a (competitive) edge in this country because of a great transportation industry,” Said Lynch. “There is an ongoing need to focus on that competitive advantage so we don’t lose it.”

Lynch said he recently sponsored a rail summit and traveled to Mumbai to study the weaknesses in their rail security system following terrorist attacks there. He also discussed rail security issues with representatives from the United Kingdom and Russia.

“The next threat, I think, will be to our local rail systems and infrastructure,” he said. “There is a growing sense of awareness that this is an area both Democrats and Republicans can agree on. We have grown complacent when it comes to our rail security.”

futhey_lynch U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts receives a UTU clock from
SMART Transportation President Division Mike Futhey following an address to
regional meeting attendees and guests.

Boardman also addressed Amtrak’s rail security issues, noting that Amtrak has 500 police officers, 50 bomb-sniffing dogs and is a leader in explosive-detection technology.

He told the transportation employees and guests that the railroad of the future is coming, but that additional resources are needed.

He said that long-distance trains do not make money and have never made money, but that they provide a means of travel for many individuals who do not have access to other modes of transportation.

Referring to government funding of Amtrak, Boardman stressed that “it is not a subsidy, it is a cost for providing mobility. We are destroying long-distance trains by de-capitalizing them. We need to change that.”

qualy_boardman Minnesota State Legislative Director Phillip Qualy speaks with Amtrak President and
CEO Joseph Boardman following lunch at the SMART Transportation Division’s
Boston regional meeting.


By SMART General President Joe Nigro – 

This article, submitted to the Members’ Journal by James Jackson, SMART’s Director of Canadian Affairs, applies not just to Canadian members and trade unionists, but to all of us in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Share your message of pride via text or through a simple image meme to and we will not only spread your message, but enter you in a contest for an iPad mini. All messages and related images will be placed on SMART’s Facebook page at The top entry with the most likes and the top entry with the most shares on the SMART Facebook site will receive a new iPad mini. The two winners will be announced on Labor Day, Sept. 2, 2013.


Unions are under attack, forever and a day, from all directions. If it is not coming from the federal government in Canada in the form of Bill C377 or other potential draconian legislation, then it is the provincial and or local governments proposing similar ideas. Beyond those measures, we have the right wing-controlled media jumping on the union-bashing bandwagon at every opportunity.

All these attacks come because unions want to provide a better standard of living for working men and women, while ensuring a safe working environment for everyone. If unions want these for all working persons, not just union members, how evil can unions be?

Here are a few questions to consider:

Are you still proud of your union? Are you still proud to be a union member? Are you still proud of the decision you made to be a union brother or sister, or are you succumbing to mounting pressure from the right wing that insists unions are bad and the world would be better without them?

If you are wavering on your commitment, that’s exactly what the right wing hopes to achieve: a union-free environment with no rules except the ones that employers can arbitrarily dictate.

Next question.

If there were no unions, would you be earning the wages and benefits you currently receive? Would there be overtime pay for hours worked outside the regular workweek? Would there even be a regular workweek? Would paid holidays, parental leave or bereavement leave even exist? I believe we all know the answers. Without unions, none of these would exist. No employer or policy maker woke up one day and suddenly decided that overtime pay or parental leave or any of the advances working people made in the last century was the right thing to do. These advances came about because working people formed unions to fight for them and then protect what they accomplished.

I know we have the interest out there. Recently, I received email from a member asking if I had any union stickers or other paraphernalia that he could get to show “union pride.” He did not say his union pride, just “union pride.” It felt really good to read an email from a member who knows the meaning of those words.

It seems to me that we have become far too complacent over the years when it comes to the union bashing going on out there.

Fighting fire with fire does not always work, and it can create an even bigger fire. But if we fight fire with water, we can put the fire out, and that is what we want – an end to union bashing.

It is high time we started showing more “union pride.” We must begin to speak positively about ourselves and not take for granted the things we have today – protections and benefits that our brothers and sisters in the past fought hard to obtain. There are over 3 million union members in Canada. If just once a day, every union member said something positive about their union, there would be over 3 million positive statements a day and over a billion in a year. Do you think any right wing-minded government or media can match that? Even if only 10 percent of our union brothers and sisters made a single positive comment, that would be very difficult for the naysayers to match. Saying something positive about ourselves not only makes us feel good, but others start to listen as well. More positive statements generate more listeners and the possibility of a wide-reaching change in attitude.

With all the existing technology, it should be so easy to get the positive message about unions out there, but we are not doing it enough.

On the basis that a lot of union pride is out there, I am asking every Sheet Metal and Transportation member in SMART to help us share your union pride message as widely as possible.

Fraternally with union pride,

James Jackson,
SMART Director of Canadian Affairs


By SMART General President Joe Nigro – 
We are one! Not only as a result of our recent merger, but also by the pledge we make to one another as union brothers and sisters.
The strength of organized labor lies in the hearts and minds of every union member who understands the meaning of allegiance.
President Obama used that term so effectively to set the theme of his second inaugural address: “What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’”
His call for collective action – action to address new challenges with new responses that still remain faithful to those founding principles – is no different from the pledge we made when we joined the SMWIA or the UTU.
We pledged our allegiance then, and we must reaffirm that commitment every day, to collectively make our merged union stronger and smarter.
When realizing a merger such as ours, we cannot always avoid spending time on issues like autonomy, titles, responsibilities and other minor details. Still, we have made real progress together to build SMART’s membership in bus operations, to reduce costs, and to keep our members informed about our finances and policies.
I can assure the UTU membership that the autonomy of the general committees of adjustment and the state legislative boards is not an issue that will derail our collective progress.
Now, we must work together – all of us, members and leaders – to ensure our representation is what it should be.
What does representation involve? What purpose does it serve? What does it mean to one who represents and to one who is represented?
Representation is what unions offer workers. It’s a big choice, in some cases, to put your job on the line to join a union. Once in the union, we as members want to be sure that we get what we pay for – that we’re not just a source of dues.
Strong representation is essential in such a diverse organization as SMART. Those who represent SMART members can do so only when they know, and listen to, the members they represent, when they understand members’ problems and challenges.
Our members are on the front lines with their employers and know first-hand whether the employers are living up to their labor agreements. Our members have to know that their union representatives want them to be recognized for the work they do every day, to be involved in the work of the union, and to be fully informed on any condition of employment that affects them or their family.
Our diversity in solidarity is our strength. As we reaffirm our allegiance to each other and to our union ideals, we can and will reach new heights. Together, we will use this year to brand SMART as the union of choice in sheet metal, air, rail, and transportation work.
This year we celebrate the 125th anniversary of this great union, born in Toledo, Ohio, on Jan. 25, 1888. The story of our past and its effect on our present and our future will unfold throughout the year through the commemorative theme: SMART Expertise Since 1888.
Please visit to learn more about the commemoration.

Click here for a joint letter from UTU International President Mike Futhey and Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association General President Joe Nigro on the merger between our two organizations to become the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail & Transportation Workers (SMART).