While our online registration options for the upcoming Transportation Division Regional Training Seminars (RTS) to take place in Toledo, Ohio, Oct. 3 through 6 and in Davenport, Iowa, Nov. 6 through 9, have been disrupted, these events will go on as planned.

For those who have not yet registered, on-site registration for attendees will be an option at both events. The fee to attend the RTS is $50.

Lodging can be booked for the Ohio event by calling the Hilton Garden Inn Toledo Downtown at 419-464-9220. The discounted hotel room block has been filled.

A schedule for the Toledo RTS is available and has been published.

For more information, contact Ohio State Legislative Director Clyde Whitaker at 419-565-2629 or email smartunionoslb@gmail.com.

For the Davenport event, call the Rhythm City Casino at 563-328-8000 and mention that you are with SMART-TD to obtain a discounted rate. The TD event rate is $112 per night.

For more information, contact Iowa State Legislative Director Christopher Smith at 641-278-0699 or by email at utuislb@hotmail.com or Illinois State Legislative Director Bob Guy at 312-236-5353 or by email at bob.guy1@comcast.net.

Please note: Attendees are responsible for making their own hotel reservations for these events.

SMART-TD appreciates your patience as service is restored.

Local Chairperson Nathan Hatton, center, gives a thumb’s up with Local 278 Legislative Representative Tom Dillon to his right in the photo as they support United Auto Workers Local 900 members in Detroit on Wednesday, Sept. 20.

Members of SMART-TD Local 278 (Jackson, Mich.) and General Committee GO 687 hit the picket line in Detroit, heart of the auto industry on Sept. 20. Our members were on the line supporting the proud men and women of United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 900 outside of Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant, better known as MAP.

The SMART Transportation Division is proud to see our members publicly joining the fight in this historic movement known as the UAW “Stand Up” strike.

TD members showed up on the strike’s first day, then again four days later on Day 5 to deliver bottled water and to show support, Local 278 Legislative Representative Tom Dillon said.

“A common conversation I had with most UAW workers both days was that this fight wasn’t just for them It was for all of us… all of us working middle class people trying to live a great life. A life that our parents enjoyed through the fruits of their labor,” he said.

“Yet here we are today, and the folks that build these cars and trucks can’t even afford to buy one, let alone our children. It’s invigorating to be out there supporting this fight to say the least and I’m hoping to get out there again with our union brothers and sisters  to show more support.” 

Thank you to all our members throughout the country that are doing the same.

Please get in touch with SMART News at TD-DL-News@smart-union.org and let us know what your local is doing to help their cause!

SMART-TD members out to support the UAW strike include, front, Local 278 Legislative Representative Tom Dillon, and from back left, Local 278 President Dave Firlik, Local 278 LCA687E Secretary Jason Tackett, Local 278 member Nick Huberts and GO 687 Vice General Chairperson James Reid. The “Wingman” at right was unidentified.
Fifty-seven SMART-TD members, officers and spouses, as well as UTUIA, RRB and TD Auxiliary, gathered for the first Solidarity Shoot in Ellerbe, N.C. earlier this month.

TD members from both North and South Carolina got together for a late summer clay shoot at DeWitt’s Sporting Clays in Ellerbe, N.C.

About 57 people participated – including President Jeremy Ferguson and Alt. National Legislative Director Jared Cassity.

North Carolina State Legislative Director Ron Ingerick organized the event and took part, as did SLD Will Ferguson from South Carolina.

General Chairperson Thomas Gholson (GO 898) and Vice General Chairperson Matthew McCrary (GO 851) as well as representatives from UTUIA, the Railroad Retirement Board, TD Auxiliary and families and spouses attended the first of what Ingerick is hoping will be an annual event for members.

“This was something to build solidarity and open communications between the local members across the two states for bus and rail,” Ingerick said. “We’re just trying to pull things back together since COVID. Hopefully it’ll be a bigger event going forward and next year we’ll have an even bigger crowd.”

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Brothers and sisters —

As the strike action of our brothers and sisters at the UAW moves forward, I wanted to reach out to all SMART-TD members and reiterate our support for the UAW and the goals they are working to achieve.

On Thursday, I reached out to our rail members to let you know that you have a right to refuse to service any facility that is under a picket if you feel your safety is at risk. This right is written into our SMART constitution.

All signs from the UAW are that their strike has the potential to go on for quite some time. Right now, the media and public are focusing on their struggle. This is good news for the labor movement, however, as the strike continues, this attention and support might get watered down.

SMART-TD’s rail members are prohibited by the Railway Labor Act to participate in a sympathy strike, which means we cannot stop coming to work for our employers. What we can do, in addition to not crossing the picket lines to service industries if our safety is in jeopardy, is that we can support the efforts of UAW when we aren’t on duty.

It is my hope that as a union, we will do everything we can to show our solidarity with UAW in their time of need. Like all unions, their strike fund is not robust enough to pay their members the salaries they need to live off of indefinitely. If you are interested in helping, please do what you can to support their cause.

Please get out and walk the line with our UAW brothers and sisters. If you can bring food to show your support that is always appreciated. I would love to see SMART-TD members showing up in SMART gear and lending a hand to this worthy cause.

We are prohibited from not working our jobs at the railroad in support of their strike, but we can show up on our own time and do as much as we can to be of service to their movement. Please join me in the effort to find a UAW demonstration, put on your SMART T-shirt, pick up some pizzas and let them know that we stand with them.

UAW workers are in this fight for the long haul. Any reinforcement our union can provide them will go a long way toward their fight and the labor movement throughout this country.

In solidarity, 

Jeremy R. Ferguson

President, Transportation Division

One year ago today, the SMART Transportation Division and Local 1846 in West Colton, Calif., lost a brother in a tragic accident when he and his engineer were ordered into Bertram siding. Brother Zach Lara, and engineer Steven Brown both were fatally injured in a collision with cars that were in the siding.

Zach Lara

At the time of the accident this tight-knit local, along with Locals 1422, (Los Angeles) and 1813 (West Colton), helped Lara’s family by establishing and contributing to a GoFundMe account. Yet to the men and women of UP’s West Colton crew base, this didn’t feel like enough.

Recently, two of Brother Lara’s coworkers, John Kosiba and Dan Wagner, were discussing Lara and his memory, and they decided to take matters into their own hands. They assembled members from both Locals 1846 and 1813 and went to the site of Lara and Brown’s accident.

This group of SMART-TD members put in the time and effort to dig a hole as a foundation and then constructed a permanent memorial to Lara and Brown using their own money and funds contributed by other railroaders.

At the conclusion of their work, a brief service was held in honor of their fallen brothers as a celebration of their lives.

By all accounts, Brother Lara was a dynamic personality to work with. Still, the fact that his coworkers, a year following his untimely death, had committed to preserving his memory speaks to just how special an individual he was.

In addition to the names of Lara and Brown, the names of two additional railroaders were commemorated on the memorial. Joe Antonio and J.P. Walker were killed in 2007 also in the Bertram siding while on duty for UP.

SMART-TD honors and remembers Brother Lara on this first anniversary of the tragedy that took him from us and thanks Brothers Wagner and Kosiba and all of the railroaders who contributed money, time, and talent to constructing the memorial.

In speaking to John Davis from Local 1422, he pointed out that as crews come by the recently constructed memorial, they often blow their horn in a salute to Lara and Brown. He went on to say, “Sometimes, the smallest gestures can go a long way toward healing.”

SMART-TD hopes this memorial and the fact that Brother Lara will be in their thoughts every day as they blow the horn and tip their hats to him can bring them closer to healing.

Phone: (216) 228-9400

Fax: (216) 228-0411
Department Email: news_td@smart-union.org

“Any time a monopoly is broken up, and competition is emphasized in the workplace, American workers win. SMART-TD stands behind today’s announcement by the Surface Transportation Board. It is a clear result of this administration’s dedication to railroad workers and workers in general over the insatiable appetite of the railroad companies to feed their bottom lines to the detriment of all else. SMART-TD, on behalf of the hardworking conductors, engineers, and yardmasters we represent, are thankful for the leadership of Martin Oberman, chair of the STB, and of the Biden administration for their courage in breaking the stranglehold the railroads have had on their customers since 1850. Our hope is that introducing the spirit of capitalism into our industry will force the railroads to run their companies more responsibly, starting with demonstrating more respect for their greatest asset, OUR MEMBERS.”

— SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson

This morning, the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB), following a unanimous vote by the board, announced a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) that represents a tidal shift in the way railroads provide service in this country. Since the golden spike was ceremonially driven in 1869, connecting this country from coast to coast with rail service, our country’s railroads have had a unique business model. This model has always hinged on the fact that if they owned the track your factory or company was adjacent to, you were locked into their services no matter the level of their pricing or the quality of that service.

In recent years, the STB has been flooded with complaints regarding the Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) era from shippers who are no longer satisfied with the results of the one-sided partnerships they have with American rail barons. These shippers have been “railroaded” into paying inflated rates for severely inadequate service. The STB has ruled numerous times that rail carriers are obligated to honor their contracts and provide regular service to our country’s most-pivotal industries.

Recently, the STB asserted its power to insist that Union Pacific (UP) service a large-scale poultry farm in California whose livestock was suffering from that carrier’s inability to consistently deliver the feed necessary to keep their animals alive. Currently, the Navajo Nation has engaged the STB in a dispute with BNSF over its inability to deliver on its contractual obligation to get coal to market produced by a subsidiary of the Nation . The idea that railroads can service who they want when they want does not mesh with their obligations to provide adequate service.

Martin Oberman, the Biden administration, and the STB today said they will no longer allow this mentality to continue. The STB is holding the railroads’ collective feet to the fire so that the supply chain for critical goods, like energy and food supplies, delivers on time.

The NPRM announced today provides three basic standards of service railroad companies must abide by. If they refuse to do so, their previously locked-in customers will have the right to contract with another railroad that will. As the press release from the STB points out, this will be a complex process of negotiating trackage rights; however, the STB shows no sign of backing down from the task.

Chairperson Martin Oberman specifically noted, “One of the principal goals of the rule is to incentivize carriers to maintain sufficient resources — specifically workforce and locomotives.”

This NPRM is open to public comments until October 23, 2023. If it is adopted as proposed, this nation’s railroads are, for the first time, forced to recognize a direct correlation between their staffing levels and their ability to retain customers. This puts these carriers in a unique position where retention of their workforce, as well as attracting new talent, will force itself to be their top priority.

SMART-TD is proud to stand with Chairman Oberman, the STB, and President Biden as they make this bold and decisive move to level the playing field and assert the ideals of capitalism into the railroad industry.

Railroad workers, heavy industry, and “mom-and-pop” shops across this country will benefit from adopting this proposed rule-making. As SMART-TD President Ferguson stated, “When monopolies are disrupted by capitalism, our country’s workers and the economy itself win, and win big.”


If you’re interested in speaking more about the union’s stance on this issue and the changes SMART-TD is calling for, we’d be happy to connect you with:

SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy Ferguson

President Jeremy Ferguson, a member of Local 313 in Grand Rapids, Mich., was elected president of SMART’s Transportation Division in 2019.

President Ferguson, an Army veteran, started railroading in 1994 as a conductor on CSX at Grand Rapids, Mich., and was promoted to engineer in 1995. Ferguson headed the recent national rail negotiations for the Union with the nation’s rail carriers.

SMART Transportation Division National Legislative Director Gregory Hynes

Greg Hynes is a fifth-generation railroader and was elected national legislative director in 2019.

Hynes served on the SMART Transportation Division National Safety Team that assists the National Transportation Safety Board with accident investigations, from 2007 – 2014.

In 2014, he was appointed to the Federal Railroad Administration’s Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC), which develops new railroad regulatory standards.

Hynes was appointed the first chairperson of the UTU Rail Safety Task Force in 2009 and served in that capacity until being elected SMART Transportation Division alternate national legislative director at the Transportation Division’s 2014 convention.

SMART Transportation Division Alternate National Legislative Director Jared Cassity

Jared Cassity was elected by his peers in 2019 and currently serves as the Alternate National Legislative Director for the SMART Transportation Division, which is comprised of approximately 125,000 active and retired members who work in a variety of different crafts in the transportation industry. These crafts include employees on every Class I railroad, Amtrak, many shortline railroads, bus and mass transit employees, and airport personnel.

In addition to his elected roles, Cassity has also been appointed as the Union’s Chief of Safety, serves as the Director for the SMART TD National Safety Team (which assists the NTSB in major rail-related accident investigations), is SMART TD’s voting member on the Federal Railroad Administration’s C3RS Steering Committee, and is the first labor member to ever be appointed to the Transportation Security Administration’s Surface Transportation Safety Advisory Committee.

SMART Transportation Division members are reminded that Local President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer, Board of Trustees (3), Legislative Representative, Alternate Legislative Representative, Delegate, and Alternate Delegate elections are scheduled to be held this autumn, with nominations to be taken in October 2023 and elections conducted in November 2023.

Locals must solicit for the nomination of candidates in October seeking to fill the three-year Local officer positions described by the SMART Constitution’s Article 21B, Section 56. Positions include President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer, Collector (where applicable) and the three-member Board of Trustees. Locals must also solicit for the nomination of candidates in October seeking to fill the four-year legislative offices. Those eligible to hold office as a Legislative Representative or Alternate Legislative Representative must be qualified voters, meaning they are registered to vote. The duties of a Legislative Representative are listed in SMART Constitution Article 21B, Section 66.

Also this autumn, Locals must solicit for the nomination of candidates in October seeking to fill the positions of Delegate and Alternate Delegate. The Delegate will represent their Transportation Division Local at the SMART Transportation Division Convention. That convention immediately precedes the SMART General Convention. Locals entitled to additional Delegates to represent them at the General Convention will elect those additional Delegates in June 2024.

Members are also reminded that any existing Local vacancies should be addressed during these elections.

Local Secretaries and Secretary-Treasurers should take steps now to ensure their records reflect accurate membership listings and mailing addresses.

As per the constitution’s Article 21B, Section 57, nomination meetings must be held in October, with election tabulations conducted in November. Winning candidates generally will assume their offices on Jan. 1, 2024. Those filling a vacancy, however, take office immediately.

SMART Constitution Article 21B, Section 58, contemplates an installation ceremony for officers named in Article 21B, Section 56. Those elected officers who must present themselves at a regular or special meeting for installation within 60 days following their election include President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer (or Secretary-Treasurer), and Trustees. Section 58 does not apply to LCA committeepersons, Delegates, Alternate Delegates, Legislative Representatives or Alternate Legislative Representatives.

In most cases, candidates must garner a simple majority of valid votes cast to win election to a Transportation Division office. (A simple majority means more than half.) In the case of the Board of Trustees, winning candidates must obtain a majority of the ballots cast.

The process begins

For the Local’s Secretary or Secretary-Treasurer, the election process begins with an effort to update the membership roster, ensuring accurate addresses are on file for each member. Our constitution requires each member to keep the Local Secretary and Treasurer advised of their current home address. At the same time, U.S. Department of Labor regulations and the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) require the Local to take steps to update addresses in advance of an election.

Members can update their address by contacting their Local Secretary, Secretary-Treasurer, or Treasurer, or can do so themselves using the SMART App.


The Local Secretary must post a notice at least 10 days in advance of the October nomination meeting indicating when and where nominations for affected positions will take place. The notice should include which positions are open for nominations, and should indicate how nominations can be made, especially by those who cannot attend the nomination meeting. Notices should be placed in as many locations as needed to ensure it can reasonably be concluded that all members had an opportunity to see the notices.

All Locals have been mailed instructional packets that include samples of the nomination notices which must be conspicuously posted where it can be reasonably calculated to inform all affected members. While nomination notices are not required by law to be mailed directly to all affected members, it is highly recommended that the postcards available for this purpose be obtained from our Supply Department and mailed to all members.

Nominations may be made by any member in good standing from the floor at the nomination meeting. Nominations do not require being seconded. Any member may self-nominate. If a member wishes to self-nominate or nominate someone else, but can’t attend the meeting, nominations can be entered through a petition. A nomination petition must state the name of the nominee, the position for which the member is being nominated, and must carry at least five signatures of members eligible to vote. No nominations can be accepted following the close of the nomination meeting. A nominee need not be in attendance at the nomination meeting for the nomination to be valid. Those currently in a position are NOT automatically renominated for that position.  Anyone wishing to be a candidate in an upcoming election must be nominated by petition or at a nomination meeting.

If only one member is nominated for a position, that member can be declared elected by acclamation.

Those in so-called E-49 status are eligible to run for office, but they cannot self-nominate or nominate others and they cannot vote. If elected, acceptance of pay from the company or the union creates a dues obligation.

In all cases, a notice of the election must be mailed to all members, including those in E-49 status (but not including retirees). If your Local is conducting its election by mail, the mailed ballots can serve as the required notice of election, but such ballots must be mailed at least 15 days in advance of the date of tabulation, and must be mailed to those in E-49 status. (The Tellers will determine on the day of tabulation whether a member is in E-49 status and his or her vote should be counted.) The Department of Labor does not count the day of mailing as part of that 15-day window, but it does count the day of tabulation.

Those conducting floor votes can obtain postcards notifying members of the time, date and place of the election from our Supply Department. These notices must be mailed at least 15 days in advance of the date of tabulation.


To be eligible to vote, all dues and assessments must be paid within the time frame specified by the constitution. Article 21B, Section 49, indicates dues are to be paid in advance, before the first day of the month in which they are due. Eligibility to make nominations or to be nominated is similar. This means, for example, for a nomination meeting in October, the nominator and the nominee must have paid all dues obligations prior to October 1. To vote in November, the voter must have paid all dues obligations prior to November 1.

More information

Members are encouraged to consult Article 21B of the SMART Constitution for information regarding elections. Unless an item within Article 21B directs you to a further stipulation outside of Article 21B, only the provisions found within Article 21B are applicable to Transportation Division elections. The local election process is addressed directly by Article 21B, Section 57.

Members can consult their Local officers to examine the election guidance material distributed by this office.


There are many provisions not covered by this article, including those which address candidates’ rights and permitted means of campaigning. Those with election questions are urged to call the Transportation Division office at (216) 228-9400 and follow the prompts for the President’s Department. It’s always easier to address issues in advance than after the fact.

Registration is now open for the SMART Transportation Division Regional Training Seminar (RTS) to take place November 6 through 9, 2023, at the Rhythm City Casino Resort in Davenport, Iowa.

Attendee check-in begins the morning of Monday, Nov. 6, with programming and speakers scheduled to begin that afternoon.

The RTS schedule and information will be available through the SMART app and be posted on the SMART website.

Attending an RTS is an exciting opportunity for local leadership and members to engage one on one with union experts to help fulfill the need for live, in-person training from local leaders closer to home.

The cost for TD members to register to attend the seminar is $50.

The RTS includes classes for local governance, roles of a local president, secretary & treasurer, legislative representatives and local chairpersons in protecting members and on the SMART Constitution, among others.

The classes are taught by national officers and other subject-matter experts associated with SMART-TD.

TD President Jeremy Ferguson and other union leaders are scheduled to appear to answer membership questions. To register for the seminar, visit https://register.smart-union.org/.

The deadline to register to attend is November 1, 2023.

Please note: Attendees are responsible for making their own hotel reservations.

A room block has been reserved at the Rhythm City Casino, 7077 Elmore Ave, Davenport, IA 52807. The SMART TD event rate is $112 per night with the hotel reservation deadline Monday, Oct. 16. Booking may be completed by phone. Call 563-328-8000 or toll free at 844-852-4386 and mention that you are a member of the SMART-TD group. Deadline for the discount hotel reservations is Oct. 16.

For more information, contact Iowa State Legislative Director Christopher Smith at 641-278-0699 or by email at utuislb@hotmail.com or Illinois State Legislative Director Bob Guy at 312-236-5353 or by email at: bob.guy1@comcast.net.

Monday, Sept. 4, marked Labor Day in the United States and our members were out making their presence known in celebration of the work we do while raising awareness about the work that still needs to be done in this country to raise the profile of the working class and organized labor.

California — Local 23 — Santa Cruz

Bus Department Alt. Vice President James Sandoval, left, and other members of his Local 23 in Santa Cruz, Calif., take part in a Labor Day event.


SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy Ferguson and Alt. National Legislative Director Jared Cassity were in Galesburg, Ill., and continued the tradition of a TD presence in the the nation’s longest-running Labor Day parade.


Our members participated in a Labor Day parade in Omaha, complete with the traditional appearance of the SMART-TD-branded mini-locomotive.


SMART-TD’s Nevada State Legislative Board had a presence at the Reno LaborFest.


Members from TD Locals 2, 1529 and 1816 walked in the Toledo annual Labor Day parade with Sheet Metal members from SMART Local 33.


SMART Transportation Division had a presence at the Labor Day parade in Roanoke, Va.

SMART Transportation Division Local 583 (Fond du Lac, Wis.) suffered a tragic loss prior to the Labor Day weekend when member John A. Thornton was killed Aug. 31 after a suspected drunken driver smashed into his transport vehicle in Matteson, Ill., while en route to work.

Brother Thornton, 48, was a conductor for Canadian National (CN) and a member of our union for nearly two decades, joining in November 2005.

Two other members of the crew, fellow TD Local 583 member Larissa Pondexter, an engineer trainee, as well as engineer Tony Hargrow were hurt in the crash. Both were treated and released from the hospital, said General Chairperson Kenneth Flashberger of GO-987.

Flashberger said the transport vehicle driver also was hurt, treated and released.

“John was a longtime employee and had a big effect on all of us,” said Wisconsin State Legislative Director Andy Hauck, who has known Brother Thornton for nearly 20 years.

Canadian National has made grief counseling to Brother Thornton’s co-workers. SLD Hauck also said they have committed to covering the costs of our fallen member’s funeral.

“The CN Railroad really stepped up and has truly been extremely supportive and helpful,” he said.

Hauck said Thornton was an organ donor and it provides some comfort that he will live on.

“While he was with us, John provided real joy with his humor,” Hauck said. “Now he is living on in a last act of charity so that others may live. Let’s hope that the laughter also comes with his gift.” 

Local 583 Chairperson John Potter is collecting donations for the Thornton family. Checks may be made out to John Thornton’s wife, Janelle Thornton, and sent to Potter at 314 Oak St., Rosendale WI 54974

Brother Thornton is survived by Janelle and two daughters.

“Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers,” GC Flashberger said.

Visitation is scheduled noon to 4 p.m. local time Sept. 7 at Uecker-Witt Funeral Home, 524 N. Park St., Fond du Lac.

CN President and CEO Tracy Robinson also said that the carrier will observe a minute of silence Thursday, Sept. 7 in memory of Brother Thornton.

“Our operations colleagues will stop all yard movements and pause activities where safe to do so. All movements on the main track continue and we will pay respect by ringing the engine bell at 11 a.m. local time,” she said.

The SMART Transportation Division extends its sincere condolences to the family, friends and the union brothers and sisters of Local 583 who will continue to cherish Brother Thornton’s memory.