All posts tagged SMART

Janus Ruling Creates Nationwide So Called “Right to Work” in Public Sector

In a late June ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mark Janus, denying public sector unions the right to collect “fair share” fees.

The court’s 5-4 ruling in Janus vs. AFSCME District Council 31 overturns its 1977 ruling Abood vs. Detroit Board of Education.

Joining in the majority were Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch.

Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented with the opinion.

In Abood, the court ruled workers who do not want to join a union, but are represented by one, should not have to pay union dues, which can be used for political expenses. However, if state law allows, these individuals are required to pay “fair share” fees to cover just the union’s costs of negotiating contracts and representing members.

“Today, the Court succeeds in its 6-year campaign to reverse Abood,” said Kagan in the dissenting opinion. “Its decision will have large-scale consequences. Public employee unions will lose a secure source of financial support.”

Kagan said state and local governments who thought fair-share provisions furthered their interests will now need to find new ways to manage their workforces.

“Across the country, the relationships of public employees and employers will alter in both predictable and wholly unexpected ways,” she wrote.

By reversing the Abood decision, the court stated “fair share” fees violate the first amendment.

The Janus ruling, while not unexpected, strikes a major blow to public sector unions and is expected to lead to a loss of membership, which will also result in a financial hit as well.

SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich said this decision will affect a handful of properties who work for government transportation agencies that have SMART TD representation.

The Janus decision will not affect Sheet Metal Workers and all other SMART TD members.

Joseph Sellers Jr

SMART General President Joseph Sellers Jr.

In early July on the second day of the SMART Transportation Division Regional Meeting, SMART General President Joseph Sellers Jr. said the union will move in a unified direction at all levels in the fight against the ongoing attack on labor.

Sellers called the high court’s decision radical, as it will undo four decades worth of law in the 22 states where So Called “Right to Work” was not on the books.

He called upon Locals to intensify their organizational efforts and communication.

“We need to make sure that we have our game together,” Sellers said. “We need to make sure that we educate our members. We have a mid-term election coming up, and we can change that paradigm, but it’s not going to happen by itself. It’s not going to happen without our hard work.

“We need to be laser-focused as we fight back and take back one or possibly two branches of this government.”

Locals 24 and 33 work together to keep West Virginia HVAC Licensing Law

Sheet Metal Workers Locals 24 and 33, with help from a SMART lobbyist and the Affiliated Construction Trades (ACT) West Virginia, defeated an attempt by state legislators to repeal HVAC licensing requirements in the state.

After two years of working with legislators, SMW Locals 24, 33 and 100 won a key victory in 2015, as the state enacted a law to require state licensing for all workers who perform work on HVAC/Fire Dampers in West Virginia.

SMW Local 24 South Point Business Rep. Jeff Rowe

The licensing requirement was ultimately put in place to keep fly by night contractors and out-of-state contractors from coming into West Virginia and hiring whomever they wanted, not knowing whether or not the workers are skilled.

The legislation helped our Locals secure market share and also stemmed the tide of out of state contractors and fly-by-night contractors who would undermine local standards.

A year later, Republicans gained control of the Statehouse and repealed Prevailing Wage and introduced So-Called “Right to Work” legislation.

Over the next two years, they put bills forward to repeal the HVAC licensing, but the bills died in committee as pro-labor Republicans joined Democrats in killing these bills in committee.

Early this year, House and Senate leaders made repealing the HVAC license a high priority.

Partnership Development Representative and SMART lobbyist Steve Hancock worked with SMW Local 24 Business Rep. Jeff Rowe and Steve White, Director of ACT West Virginia, to lobby against the repeal of the license and educate legislators about its importance.

Through hard work and with support from SMW Local 33, the SMART coalition was able to convince members of the GOP that repealing the HVAC license was a bad idea. Facing mounting pressure, Republican leaders vowed to not introduce legislation to repeal the HVAC license as long as licensing requirements were lowered for residential technicians.

Rowe said the education and lobbying helped create enough allies were the Republicans did not have the votes for a full repeal and they settled to only tweak the residential requirements.

“It is very important that we stick together and educate legislators as much as possible and stay as strong as we can,” said Rowe. “It’s very important to build allies because under this current legislative map we are the outsiders.”

SMW Local 24 thanks the hard work and activism of SMART members and Local 33 – along with the solidarity shown from other trades and Local 24 members for helping us save this important license.