Naming the newly merged union of building trades sheet metal workers and transportation workers the SMART union was a good idea.  SMART was a clever name for the new entity.  It is a name that promotes a positive image for its members and was a  really excellent public relations choice.  However, in real life this great public relations name, without success on the ground, would be just like facial makeup or a smiley face.  Make-up cannot protect SMART from the anti-union forces besieging unions in America.  SMART is only a name.  And who can really say we are a smarter union thanks to the merger?  Still there is some action coming out of Nigro’s Washington that seems to be evidence of the actual potential and direction of our new union.

What drove the urge to merge was declining membership and weakened union finances and a compulsive need, by a compulsive leadership to do something to halt drift; to take charge of events rather than being pushed around and down by forces outside ones control.   So far, it’s good, the merge has caused no harm and no foul; it is a bookkeeping device and a new way of counting the successes and failures of our new union.  Still, if we look carefully we see increasing evidence that SMART in its own way is addressing the problems of declining membership and the problems of organizing union sheet metal workers, problems which have seriously weakened and diminished the I.A. over these last several decades.   Only time will tell if the I.A.’s choice of tactics will succeed.

But even without being privy to the special insight and luxury that must come with being an appointed General President or an appointee to any of the overflowing appointed political positions available to I.A. social climbers, it would seem that the I.A. is leaving enough clues here and there, as to which one of the two basic approaches to SMART problem solving, Joseph Nigro has chosen for this union.

The first choice has its roots in the time tested and wise counsel of Sam Gompers: ORGANIZE!  If it moves, organize it!  Grow and protect your jurisdiction!  In this approach the I.A. must choose to become a FORCE in successful organizing or slowly but surely – perish.  The second choice is a more modern approach derived from the modern leadership behavior of the (anal) compulsive.  The second approach is like the urge to merge; it is a compulsive urge to do something – anything.  We might, for example, expect to see the I.A. tidying up the homeland.  Getting the books and records and finances and officer retirement packages in good order is a favored strategy in this modern approach.  And just to be sure everything is ship-shape across the Land of High Fives; the second approach will also compel the I.A. to tidy up everyone else’s books and records, as in Local 28.  This second approach is kind of like estate planning for the terminally ill.   Hmmmm?

Thus the state of our union is that we best keep a sharp eye out for the evidence as to which approach Nigro’s SMART takes toward problem solving.  And then, plan accordingly. 🙂