Joseph Sellers, Jr. 2017-07-12 16:42:38
Common goals, joint action SMART ARMY WILL REBUILD IMAGE, INCREASE STRENGTH For several months, I have met with members as I traveled, and asked for your input via text or social media as well. I want to address a question many of you have raised, most recently on social media by a Local 36 member from St. Louis, who wrote: “How have Unions become the evil of everyone and the economy? When there is a problem it seems like everyone focuses on labor as the problem. Where is this mentality coming from? What can we do [about it]?” Here is how SMART sees the issues and how we’re responding. Deep pockets, decades of war There are many reasons Labor’s image has eroded, and many sources for decades of systematic attacks. Start with groups that exist only to fight Labor and enrich wealthy political donors and corporations. In the late 1970s, many industry groups and “consulting firms” were formed specifically to cut the Union share of corporate construction. They coined the phrase “merit shop” with the same insidious idea behind the “right-to-work” (for less) laws now infecting the nation. These groups have names and slogans that sound fair, yet their sole purpose is to weaken Unions with lawsuits and media falsehoods—and their 40-plus years of messaging has taken root with some. Add in billions for “consultants” who run internal anti-Union drives at plants and worksites. They are no more than law-firm thugs hired to misinform and intimidate workers. And weakened campaign finance laws now allow wealthy conservatives like the Koch brothers to put their personal fortunes into both federal and state Union-busting. These puppet masters and the politicians and front groups they bankroll wage powerful attacks on every facet of organized labor, including railroad safety and crew size, prevailing wages, project labor agreements and even paid overtime. The phony groups, workplace intimidation, and well-funded legislative and media attacks are nothing new. They are just more blatant today. With decades of relentless fear-mongering fueled by unlimited money, innocuous slogans and a shameless pro-business political majority, it is no wonder that we have weathered a relentless attack. Taking back what we gained Our history is one to be proud of. We built the American and Canadian middle class through our work ethic and skill on the job, while we advocated for a century of advancement for all working families. It’s no coincidence that falling U.S. Union density has tracked with falling wages and a shrinking middle class. The fact is that all workers do better when Unions are stronger. Income inequality is at record levels and the gap continues to grow, yet Unions remain under attack. Why? Because those who already have wealth and power want more. They want every dime they can take back from us, and they are closing the doors to our financial freedom. So back to the key question: What can we do to reverse this trend? To regain strength, we fight together, in a SMART Army To raise our embattled image, we need to do what Unions do best: Unite around common interests and act. For Unions, opposition is nothing new. But what kept our forebears together during the trying times was the bond they shared—the bond of members standing up for each other so that all might build a good and stable life. It is the bond that enables us to add to the fabric of our communities, raise our families and live in harmony with our neighbors. To restore the power, we must recognize and reinvigorate those bonds by fighting for the goals we all share. We focus on basics—jobs, fair wages, workplace protection and strong representation— and then we take action together. That is why we are creating the new SMART Army. We will wage our own battle, through members who take part in efforts large and small to regain respect and build support for our interests. To restore an unfairly tarnished image, we can and should start close to home, in collective action that many of us already do. Nothing builds goodwill more than giving back to our communities and engaging with each other outside of work and of politics. We all share common interests: to be free from want, free from worrying about bills or illness. We all seek the freedom to give our kids a decent life with good options for the future. I am asking each of you to act upon those basic interests. Be part of the SMART Army. Visit www.SMARTaction.org or simply text SMARTArmy to 90975 to join. We are building a core with coordinators in each state and your Union officers; get involved! Working families are under attack. We fight back by “enlisting” in our SMART Army—by reinvesting in our Union, our common values and each other. Fraternally, Joseph Sellers, Jr. General President CELEBRATE CANADA AT 150 On July 1, GST McClees and I were able to join our Canadian Brothers and Sisters to help celebrate their great country in its 150th anniversary year. We are united as one Union across our border, and I hope all SMART members will join in wishing our Northern compatriots a “Happy Canada Day.”
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