The history of the SMWIA and UTU, now combined under SMART, highlights decades of representation on behalf of working families in North America’s rail and construction industries. The union’s efforts to protect and raise living standards for members and their families, as well as anticipating new work opportunities and adapting to change in our industries, reflect the high value on which this union stands. Throughout its history, SMART has overcome past struggles and attained triumphs, bringing hope for workers seeking fair wages, hours, and benefits.
From 1888 to this day, SMART members and officers have contributed to the welfare of the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico at home and abroad. From the production of Charles Lindberg’s Spirit of Saint Louis, designed for his historic flight across the Atlantic Ocean, to the building and sustaining of America’s Navy in our nation’s shipyards, to ensuring that America’s rand transit systems run safely and on time, and to the value and comfort in our homes and businesses through the skills of sheet metal worker SMART members have always been a credit to their industry and represented SMART with pride.
The abridged version of this history picks up the Union’s story in the 1980s and follows its efforts to confront the challenge of nonunion construction, protect and raise living standards for its various membership groups, and anticipate and even help create new work opportunities for skilled sheet metal workers. If it does not tell a story of continuous “progress and achievement,” as many union histories tend to do, it does attempt to give a frank appraisal of the leadership’s vision, policies, and goals and how these changed over time; the memberships’ willingness to buy into the Association’s programs designed to grow market share; and the effectiveness of joint labor-management ventures to keep up with changes in technology, in the composition of the work force and the structure of the industry, and in the perceived value of a union-trained work force.