September 22, 2014

We pledge allegiance, in solidarity

Nigro

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 www.SMART125.com to learn more about the commemoration.