Author Archive

TD members may act in solidarity for striking workers, but actions limited by RLA

Local 313 (Grand Rapids, Mich.) member Chris Larson, a member of our union for seven years, wrote to the office of SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson asking the extent that members can go to support and show solidarity to an ongoing labor action by another labor union against an employer.

More than 1,000 members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) union have been striking for more than a month in locations in Portland, Ore.; Richmond, Va.; Norcross, Ga., and Chicago against Nabisco/Mondelez. Brother Larson suggested in a letter that unionized train operators stop deliveries to the company’s plants in a concerted effort in support of the strikes.

“Nabisco / Mondelz (sic) International will quickly notice when their raw inputs of flour, sugar, and other bulk commodities delivered by rail are no longer being delivered because SMART-TD is supporting the BCTGM strike,” Larson wrote. “I would like to encourage SMART-TD to quickly explore how our union can honor the BCTGM strike by not delivering raw inputs to Nabisco / Mondelz (sic) International by rail.”

While a strong and impactful suggestion by Larson, the federal Railway Labor Act limits when, where and why rail workers can engage in a work stoppage, as the union’s response noted.

“…it is important to note that the governing federal law (specifically the Railway Labor Act, as amended,) limits our ability to go on strike to very narrow and specific circumstances. Unfortunately, those circumstances do not include the secondary strike action you describe in your letter,” the TD office replied.

“We absolutely support the BCTGM workers in their fight for fairness and justice with Nabisco/Mondelez,” Ferguson said. “Our members and leadership will do what we can within the law through personal boycotts and outreach initiated by local members to show support from our union. We thank Brother Larson for speaking up and asking this question, and we appreciate his desire to act in solidarity with our fellow workers at BCTGM.”

Constitutionally, members can act in the interest of their personal safety in areas where a strike is taking place. According to Article 21B, Section 92 of the SMART Constitution:

When a strike of any other nationally recognized labor organization is in effect and danger to the safety of our members exists in or about the area affected by the strike, and/or if there exists any substantial present or potential threat of danger to the members enroute to or from their work, and/or to the members’ families, it is the policy of SMART to support its members in declining to enter the territory directly affected.

The strikes against Nabisco/Mondelez first began in August with BCTGM workers in Portland, then spread to the three additional locations during the month to protest the company’s outsourcing of U.S. jobs to plants in Mexico and the disproportionate hazard pay given to management when workers received only a $300 bonus.

As of this writing, the work stoppages are ongoing, and there are multiple ways TD members and their families can assist in the effort in the spirit of solidarity suggested at the BCTGM website.

  1. Check the label of Nabisco/Mondelez snacks and do not buy products made in Mexico by non-union labor.The UComm blog has an extensive list of the brands under the Nabisco/Mondelez umbrella, and the BCTGM has a PDF (image reproduced and linked here and below) showing where to check a Nabisco/Mondelez product’s place of manufacture. Some of the most-popular products sold by the company include Oreo, Chips Ahoy and Fig Newtons cookies as well as Ritz crackers.

  2. Join one of the picket lines to give supplies or offer support at the following sites:
    • Portland, Ore.: 100 N.E. Columbia Blvd.
    • Aurora, Colo.: 17775 E. 30th Ave.
    • Chicago, Ill.: 7300 Kedzie Ave.
    • Norcross, Ga.: 6300 Brook Hollow Pkwy.
    • Richmond, Va.: 6002 S. Laburnum Ave.
  3. Send a message of solidarity to the strike organizers.
  4. Donate to the BCTGM local strike funds:
    Local 1, Chicago Bakery Workers
    Local 42, Atlanta/Norcross Distribution Workers
    Local 358, Richmond Bakery Workers
    Local 364, Portland Bakery Workers
  5. Spread the word through your community by posting this flier or online through social media by following the BCTGM union’s accounts and using the #NabiscoStrike and #NoContractNoSnacks hashtags.

Together, we can assist the BCTGM workers to achieve a fair and favorable outcome to stop the corporate greed exhibited by Nabisco/Mondelez management.

Read Brother Chris Larson’s letter and the TD response. (PDF)

Statement from President Ferguson on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks

A statement from TD President Jeremy Ferguson:

Twenty years after the shocking and devastating terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, we pause to remember the lives that were lost and irreversibly changed on that day.

Members of our union, as many other people did in Pennsylvania, New York City and Washington, D.C., performed great acts of heroism. Lives were saved when the doors were held open by conductors as the last PATH trains evacuated people from the World Trade Center site before the collapse of the Twin Towers. Bus operators in the area allowed people aboard for shelter and transported them away as they fled from harm. Their unselfish actions, along with those of many other responders who stepped up in a great time of need should be upheld and honored as true American heroes.

Like many of you, I can still vividly remember where I was that day as the tragic events took place in real time. I equally remember the feeling of immense pride shortly thereafter as Americans from all walks of life came together in solidarity during this unprecedented national emergency.

While these images remain seared into our memories, it is important that we take time on this 20th anniversary to honor those involved. We will never forget, and may God bless those lost and the families left behind.

N.J. SLD Sabol meets with DOT Secretary Buttigieg

 
New Jersey State Legislative Director Ron Sabol met with federal Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in Westfield, N.J., an encounter that was later featured in a video produced by the DOT and then shared on Buttigieg’s official Twitter account in conjunction with Labor Day on Sept. 6.

Sabol, of Local 1447 (Newark, N.J.), met Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., on Aug. 9 and discussed his career as a freight rail conductor, remote-control operator and as a SMART-TD union officer.

“I got involved in my union right away, and that’s because of safety,” Sabol told Buttigieg. “Railroading is the most dangerous job in the country.”

A member of the SMART-TD National Safety Team, N.J. SLD since December 2016, and also his local’s president, Sabol reminded the Transportation Secretary of something that sometimes is lost among the public.

“Our railroads and bus operators, which we represent as well, they’re first responders,” he said.

Sabol recalled the efforts made by TD members to help evacuate people in tunnels during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City.

“They’re heroes.”

Sabol also said that the passage of infrastructure legislation will improve with an expansion of service, better accessibility to riders and improved safety for a number of TD members.

“The best part of my job is being able to help people,” Sabol said. “As you the mayor were able to help all those people, I do it at a different level with a different group of people.”

Buttigieg’s Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration will be increasingly important as regulatory efforts develop to make the Rule of 2 — a certified conductor and certified engineer — enforced on freight trains throughout the United States.

The Biden administration announced earlier in the year that FRA is revisiting the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding freight train crew size and would be prioritized at some point in the autumn.

A Labor Day message from President Ferguson

Great challenges are best faced together, and we have encountered many these past few months from those caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to carrier practices that place profits before safety, jeopardizing safe operations that affect the general public and our members.

This year on Labor Day, unity and solidarity is at the forefront of my mind as I am proud to have faced all of these adversities together as fraternal brothers and sisters. We are each other’s keepers.

I think about the “old heads” who take the time to teach the new hires the tricks of the trade and the traps to avoid the knowledge of which takes years of experience to acquire. Or the general or local chairperson who stands up for the member who has been unjustly charged; or just the friendly face of a union brother or sister offering a smile or a helping hand at just the right time when things are not going well.

These traits are summarized well in the overarching “I Got Your Back” campaign SMART has launched.

Members of the Transportation Division protect and support one another, consciously and unconsciously, all the time and on a daily basis. A little recognition of this goes a long way, making “I Got Your Back” a solid way to recognize and show support for those whose contributions sometimes are not given the appreciation or attention that’s so richly deserved.

In the July/August newspaper that is en route to you, General President Joseph Sellers Jr. encourages members to honor a mentor by taking a photo with a person who has served as an inspiration or a protector. If you email that along with a few words about the importance of that TD brother or sister in your career to mentors@smart-union.org, that person can be recognized.

Truly, the strength of a union does not just come from the elected leaders. At its core, the power of a union comes from the membership and then travels to the leadership. There are only a handful of officers, yet thousands of members. The thousands, when united and energized, can do much more than what a single person can. That’s the power of a collective group. That’s the power of labor. That’s the power of a union!

Labor Day is about YOU. SMART-TD is about YOU. It will take all of us working together to overcome these obstacles we face now and those we will face in the future. However, I fear not as I have your back, and I know you have mine. Together we will face anything that comes our way … united. I am proud to serve alongside each and every one of you.

I do, however, want to take a moment and remember the fallen this Labor Day. We have lost way too many members, brothers and sisters, this past year who were unfortunately killed while performing their duties. Safety is our number one priority and as we work harder than ever toward changing the current culture, we must never lose sight of its importance. We must never forget the fact that our predecessor unions were founded on safety and we, as proud unified labor, will carry on in those same fights now more than ever.

Many of you will be working this Labor Day, and we thank you for your dedication while doing so. I will be out there proudly marching in one of the oldest Labor Day parades in the U.S., shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters of Local 195 in Galesburg, Ill. I look forward to meeting them as I have already met many of you during my recent travels. It is my goal to try attend as many events as possible in efforts to get to know as many of my fellow fraternal brothers and sisters as possible.

May God bless you and keep you safe.

In solidarity,


 
 
 
 

Jeremy R. Ferguson
President, Transportation Division

Local 23 member Jaime Garcia-Perez passes from COVID

Jaime Garcia-Perez, 48, a member of our union for more than 15 years out of Local 23 (Santa Cruz, Calif.), passed away Sept. 3 from complications of COVID-19. He was an operator for the Santa Cruz Metro ParaCruz.

Garcia-Perez

“Jaime, who worked at ParaCruz for nearly 17 years, had an unwavering work ethic and the utmost respect from everyone here at Metro. He was an integral part of ParaCruz from Day One,” GCA Vice General Chairperson Nathanael Abrego and General Chairperson James Sandoval said in a letter to membership. “A hard-working man and full of passion, integrity, and respect. When the workday got hard, we leaned heavily on the ‘Jaime Factor’ because he counted as two drivers. He was that good. You can always count on him to ensure our riders got to their destination on time.

“Jaime was loved by all who knew him. He will be missed.”

Brother Garcia-Perez is survived by his wife of 25 years, Dawn; daughter, Madison; and son, Kaden.

An online fundraiser has been established to assist Brother Garcia-Perez’s family.

SMART-TD expresses its sincere condolences to the family and friends of Brother Garcia-Perez and his brothers and sisters of Local 23.

SMART-TD joins #EssentialAlways campaign to honor transportation workers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This Labor Day, the SMART Transportation Division is proudly joining the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department, (TTD), to recognize and thank frontline transportation workers for their service and sacrifice, and remind Americans that our transportation workers are #EssentialAlways.

During the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, SMART-TD members were instrumental in keeping the American economy open and functioning by working throughout the pandemic delivering goods and materials and transporting essential workers to where they needed to be. While their heroic efforts during the pandemic undoubtedly saved lives, transportation labor unions want to remind America that their members, and the duties they perform, are essential always.

“I have the highest admiration for the dedication, courage, and drive all of our members displayed as they remained steadfast, working through the initial stages of the pandemic, doing the work that is often overlooked but essential in keeping our country on its feet. They did this during the uncertain initial stages of the pandemic, through lockdowns and beyond,” SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy R. Ferguson said. “The word ‘essential’ is the perfect description of all SMART-TD members and other transportation workers who keep our nation functioning and on the move. This campaign and the recognition we hope it brings is well-deserved and overdue.”

The #EssentialAlways campaign comes at a historic crossroads for this dedicated workforce. As the United States continues to grapple with the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic — which millions of frontline transportation workers have disproportionately shouldered — Congress and the Biden administration are pursuing transformational investments in infrastructure as part of the president’s build back better agenda. Highly skilled transportation workers, including SMART-TD members will be vital in achieving these goals and rebuilding our country.

“Frontline transportation workers power the most advanced economy in the world by operating, maintaining, and building the most complex transportation network on earth,” said TTD President Greg Regan. “Whether they’re helping people get to home, work, or school, moving the goods and raw materials we all rely on, delivering our mail, seeing us through a crisis, or building transportation projects of the future, these dedicated professionals have always been essential to the fabric of America, and they always will be.”

Transportation unions are encouraging the general public, elected leaders, and members of transportation and infrastructure community to join the campaign by following and engaging with the hashtag #EssentialAlways on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and to watch and share this video explaining the important role transportation workers played before and during the pandemic, and the role they will play for years to come.

TD Disaster Relief Fund activated to assist in wake of Ida

The SMART Transportation Division is primed to assist members in their time of need when disaster strikes.

Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana and Mississippi on Aug. 29 and tore a path through an area stretching from the Gulf Coast to the New York-New Jersey region, dropping torrential rain and affecting members’ lives with its massive flooding and wind damage.

Our members in the impacted area, both active and retired, face a long recovery and the painful task of rebuilding their homes and carrying on with their lives.

Furthermore, not only are they coping with the aftermath of a storm, they are doing so against the backdrop of the continuing COVID pandemic.

We are asking the SMART-TD family to heed the call and give what you can so that the difficult task of starting over and rebuilding can begin for any TD members who have been affected by Ida.

Any donations will help lessen the struggle and bring real hope and relief to our members who are suffering after this great loss. SMART-TD will administer donations sent to the SMART-TD Disaster Relief Fund.

Contributions may be sent and made payable to:

SMART-TD Disaster Relief Fund
24950 Country Club Blvd.
Suite 340
North Olmsted, OH 44070-5333

TD Members who have suffered damage or loss due to this storm can contact the SMART-TD office for an application for assistance by calling 216-227-5237.

Senate bill benefits Amtrak, bus, transit members

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Senate today passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, its $1.2 trillion bipartisan legislation, by a 69-30 vote, sending the bill to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration and taking a step to end a substantial period of largely flat federal investment in the nation’s roads, rails and bridges.

The bill contains $786 billion to address a backlog of national infrastructure needs, $66 billion for Amtrak and $39 billion for public bus, transit and subway systems.

“This legislation marks the end of a long period of stagnation in the upper chamber of Congress when it comes to putting additional money into the nation’s infrastructure,” SMART Transportation Division National Legislative Director Greg Hynes said. “There was a lot of talk of Infrastructure Week and the like in prior years, but nothing ever was accomplished with the bills dying in the Senate. Now we see a strong effort to protect bus and transit workers to shield them from assaults and a major influx of money that will allow Amtrak to provide expanded service and help its national passenger service to flourish. These are very encouraging signs and the bill’s passage is a major win for our Amtrak, bus and transit members.”

Absent from the Senate bill was a two-person freight crew provision that was passed through the U.S. House of Representatives’ infrastructure bill known as the INVEST in America Act (H.R. 3684). Yardmaster hours of service, also in the INVEST Act, suffered the same fate.

The 10 bipartisan senators who authored the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act did not include those items when writing the more than 2,700 pages of the legislation, and no amendment adding a 2PC provision was introduced by senators as the bill was considered for passage. Only bipartisan amendments were considered during the amendment process, and no Republican senators offered to co-sponsor the two-person-crew or yardmaster hours of service items as an amendment.

This does not close the door on national two-person crew bill efforts with House leaders, including Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairperson Peter DeFazio, Railroad Subcommittee Chair Donald Payne and other supporters of rail safety, working to find a vehicle to get a legislative solution passed. Regulatory efforts via the federal Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration will be intensified.

“We ask that members continue to be loud and clear about rail safety and the importance of a certified conductor and certified engineer being in the cab to elected officials via phone call, letter, and email and also by raising public awareness on social media,” Hynes said. “We have come further than we ever have in getting national two-person crew legislation accomplished this cycle. The battle is not over, and there is much more to be done.”

SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson’s statement on the passing of Richard Trumka

A statement from SMART-TD President Jeremy R. Ferguson on the passing of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:

“Brother Trumka was a distinguished, energetic and passionate leader — a true force whose presence will be missed by all who knew and worked with him in advancing the solidarity and selflessness that propels the American labor movement. We share in the sorrow of his passing and mourn with our brothers and sisters in labor. SMART-TD extends our most heartfelt condolences and will continue his legacy of standing up for the working class.“

Trumka was a keynote speaker at the 2019 SMART General Convention. Click below to view a highlight from his address to more than 1200 convention delegates.