"We must continually improve to protect ourselves," starts SMART general president Joseph Sellers with a video update on the union's response to COVID-19 released on Saturday, April 11.
"There's a lot of misinformation out there on social media," says Sellers, and "a cavalier attitude from the White House" only adds to the confusion. The video, in which Sellers calls out resources and information for members to protect themselves and their families, is meant to clear up some of the confusion.
However, a couple questions still remain: how long will SMART union workers continue to work absent the adequate protections needed to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus, what is the plan for workers in states in total lock down and is continuing to work the best policy for the workforce and the safety of their families?
(SNIPS has reached out to SMART for further comment and will update this article with a response).
Meantime, Hillery Company, a custom metal fabrication shop in Groton, Connecticut, is producing aluminum strips to secure homemade face masks in effort to combat the global COVID-19 pandemic. It's a volunteer effort spearheaded by the Hillery general manager and SMART Local 40 member Joe de la Cruz. All that is asked is for donations to pay for shipping costs.
Since then, the company has mailed out more than 500 packages containing more than 40,000 metal nose strips and recruited its labor force around the country to get involved. As each request comes in, SMART assigns it to union local near the ZIP code of the request. That local will then work with a union contractor in the area to produce the strips and deliver them to the volunteer or organization that requested them.
“We want to do everything we can to help and support health care workers and first responders who are on the front lines helping people and savings lives in our communities during this public health crisis,” said SMART general president Sellers about the effort. “This is a great idea that began with one union shop in Connecticut and took off like wildfire. We are now working to scale this up as fast as we can across the United States and Canada.”
If one thing is certain, SMART has a formidable labor force. These next few months will be crucial in keeping that force safe and strong to pick up where it left off when the pandemic is over.