I was honored to speak before the assembled delegates at the SMART Transportation Division’s recent convention in San Diego. The level of professionalism in putting together that important event and the solidarity shown by those assembled made me proud of my association with this great, united union.
I especially appreciated the chance to meet many of you, not just in San Diego but also while traveling the country. It has been a privilege learning from many of you about the operations of the transportation industry and the unique strengths you bring to this organization.
Several years ago, I was in Wisconsin and spoke to the protestors assembled in the state’s capitol rotunda that were standing up for their rights. I was just as proud to do the same when I went to Long Island to stand with the members employed there at the Long Island Rail Road, where the same energy and passion were on display.
I was never as proud to see our Sheet Metal Division brothers and sisters also there in Long Island, standing strong with the LIRR employees.
The unionized LIRR employees have worked without a raise since 1998. Two Presidential Emergency Boards have already found decisively in favor of them in their dispute with New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).
This International will do everything in its power to assist those members in their fight. Their battle belongs to all of us, and I encourage everyone to join in and help their fellow brothers and sisters, especially if the dispute is not settled.
In August, SMART will be holding its first General Convention. This is a major milestone for our union.
For the first time, sheet metal workers, conductors, engineers, yardmasters, bus operators, aviation workers, sign workers and shipyard mechanics will be meeting to adopt a constitution that will guide our actions for the next five years.
There will be open discussion to ensure all viewpoints are considered in crafting our combined future together. There are always differences in a democracy. That is what a union is all about. I’m not afraid of that. In fact, I welcome all ideas.
We have to make sure the best interests of our members are paramount in our deliberations.
All I ask from you, as a member, is one thing: get involved. This union is only as strong as its members make it.
This is your union. Treat it like so. Attend your local meetings. Stand up for your fellow members both in transportation and sheet metal. Stand up for all working families through the activities of your union. This is how the labor movement was started – by our forefathers standing up together, shoulder to shoulder.
We did that in Long Island. We will do it again elsewhere.
We’ve built the foundation and our important work in Las Vegas at SMART’s First General Convention will show that together, we can make it even better and stronger
We all share the same cause. We all share the same great organization. We are all one union.
We are SMART!
Joseph. J. Nigro
SMART General President
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