The efforts of SMART local unions to help Missouri Local Unions 2 and 36 defeat the Missouri right-to-work (RTW) referendum were applauded by SMART and Building Trades leaders at the 2018 SMART Annual Business Agents’ Conference last week.
The referendum, a hot topic of discussion at the conference in Hollywood, Florida, would have prohibited Missouri companies and labor unions from bargaining labor agreements under which all workers who benefit from a union’s bargaining and representation services pay union member dues or fair-share fees as nonmembers.
SMART General President Joseph Sellers, Jr. and National Association of Building Trades’ Union President Sean McGarvey both stressed the importance of this issue to all unions and commended those that collaborated to convince Missouri voters to reject RTW by a landmark 2 to 1 victory.
Of note, were the efforts and support that other SMART local unions gave to help Missouri Local Unions 2 and 36 to defeat the RTW legislation. SMART Local Union 9 in Denver, Colorado, dispatched four representatives to travel to Missouri and help the home locals turn out the vote.
SMART Local 9 Business Manager Dwayne Stephens told SMACNA that “sending members from Local 9 to Missouri was an easy decision because when RTW was on the ballot in 2008 in Colorado, other union members came from around the country to help us defeat RTW. It was boots on the ground and members making phone calls that proved to be most effective.”
Local 9 Organizer Tim Moran considered it an honor to travel to Kansas City and help out brothers and sisters from Missouri. It was hot and muggy the time we were there, but without these efforts, the impact on the unions would have been devastating for a long time.
“It was a great pleasure to see all different crafts working toward one end goal and that was a resounding ‘no’ defeating the right to work legislation, Moran said. “The four Local 9 reps went to more than 1,000 houses spreading the word of how wrong this piece of legislation was for the working people of Missouri. When organized labor comes together as one, great things can happen.”
SMART apprentice, Delores Bledso, said it was a privilege to go to Missouri and that it really opened her eyes to the real issues at hand in our industry and how it affects people on such a large scale. “I feel like I was able to give in an area I’ve never even been to before,” she acknowledged.
SMACNA Executive Director of Labor Relations Deborah Wyandt recognized the success when SMART local unions collaborated and mobilized to tackle the right-to-work issue. She reiterated the directive from SMACNA President, Jack Knox and SMART General President Sellers from the 2018 Partners in Progress Conference challenging local labor and management groups to team up and work together to expand market share.
“If local labor and management groups can plan and implement the way SMART locals did in Missouri, their efforts should be an overwhelming success,” Ms. Wyandt said.