SMART General President Joseph Sellers’ Labor Forum remarks at SMACNA’s 73rd Annual Convention in Phoenix provided an update on the pension fund, the new SMART Heroes program, Helmets to Hardhats, women in the trades, capturing new markets, industrial market opportunities, regional health-care plans, the Code of Excellence, and the Peer-to-Peer Member Assistance Program at SMACNA’s convention in Phoenix.
Hours are moving up, he said, and are continuing to move in the right direction.
Mr. Sellers introduced the new SMART Heroes program, which the union plans to launch next year. It aims to bring transitioning soldiers into the local JATC for modified first-year apprentice training. Job placement assistance will also be part of the program.
One of the biggest initiatives SMART is focusing on is involving more women in the trades, looking at wage parity, hours, and overtime opportunities, along with how to recruit and retain women. “We can do a better job,” he said. “We are trying to figure out the right approach we can take.”
Mr. Sellers indicated that SMART is searching beyond the traditional marketplace to the growing industrial and new markets. “How do we focus on those industrial markets, not only the core we are comfortable with, but those sectors where we can diversify and get those hours,” he said. “How do we look at new industry? We’re focusing on new markets where those job opportunities are. How can we capture them?”
SMART is continuing to look at ways to save members’ money through a regional health-care model and by consolidating retirement plans. SMART is discussing joining 401(k) plans with larger plans and putting the discounts and lower management fees back into the industry.
Finally, General President Sellers cited the effect that drugs are having on our country and families and how SMART is helping. “It is affecting the country, affecting each one of us.”
SMART’s Members Assistance Program is addressing workers’ issues with depression, drugs, and mental health disorders. It is a network of trained union representatives and volunteers who help workers find the support they need while removing the stigma of seeking assistance.
For more information on the SMART MAP program, see related article “SMART’s MAP program helps workers with mental health, substance abuse problems,” in the August issue of SMACNews.