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.
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.
GCA-505 Long Island Rail Road General Chairperson Anthony Simon has teamed up with SMART Sheet Metal Business Managers Dante Dano (SM Local 137) and Eric Meslin (SM Local 28) to plan an annual golf outing in Bronx, N.Y. to benefit LaborPress.
LaborPress is one of the largest labor news organizations in the nation. They were founded in August 2009 by LaborPress President Neal Tepel to provide a media outlet for unions and workers. Their articles regularly appear in the New York Daily News and on their website. iHeart radio’s WOR radio station features their daily reports.
LaborPress.org regularly has features on the transportation and building trades industries, which is why our union is happy to help them out with their golf outing. Most notably, LaborPress recently posted spotlight features on Simon, Dano, Meslin and General President Joe Sellers.
According to Simon, GCA-505 and SMART Locals 137 and 28 regularly work together on joint efforts and this event is no different. The keynote speaker for the event is none other than SMART General President Sellers. During his lunchtime speech, Sellers plans to discuss infrastructure issues important to both the transportation and sheet metal sides of the union, as well as the need for more unionized workers in the workforce. Also speaking during the event are representatives from the AFL-CIO and the North America’s Building Trades Union (NABTU). Legislators are expected to attend as well.
“We are honored to have our general president attend this event as the keynote speaker. This event takes place in New York, where many labor leaders throughout the state will join us to hear Joe’s opinions on the labor movement and the infrastructure bills that we are fighting for in Washington,” Simon said. “This event shows that when we all stand together with both transportation and building trades, our voices and actions are stronger than ever.”
The golf outing is being held Sept. 10, at the Pelham Bay Golf Course, 870 Shore Rd., Bronx, NY 10464.
John Pohle is surrounded by his family in this photo. Brother Pohle was critically injured in an at-work accident April 30.
Brother John Pohle, vice president of Local 17 (Marshalltown, Iowa), passed away in the hospital on May 25, 2021, nearly a month after he suffered a critical injury while working April 30 in Union Pacific’s Marshalltown Yard.
Brother Pohle, a member of the union for more than 13 years and a local officer since 2012, had been in a medically-induced coma in the weeks since the accident amputated his right leg.
The SMART Transportation Division extends its deepest condolences to Brother Pohle’s family, his friends and especially his brothers and sisters of Local 17, which he helped to lead for nearly a decade.
Brother Carlisle ran for political office in 2018, narrowly losing a race for the Arizona State Senate, District 6 seat by a little more than 1,700 votes to a Republican incumbent. He also was a minister, small business owner, a city councilman and most importantly, the husband to Sandy and father to Emma and Abbey.
“Wade was very passionate about selfless service to his community,” Arizona State Legislative Director Scott Jones said. “One of his most-impressive qualities was how he kept a very calming demeanor when talking with constituents about issues they were very passionate about.”
Brother Carlisle is survived by Sandy, his wife of 22 years, his two daughters, his mother; two brothers; and a number of nieces and nephews.
A viewing and services will be 10 a.m. Saturday, May 8, at First Baptist Church of Holbrook, Ariz. Interment will be at Burton Cemetery in Show Low, Ariz. at 4 p.m. Donations may be made to Youth For Christ of Holbrook online or by check written to Youth For Christ with 31045 in the memo line which can be given to a YFC leader or Pastor Nathan Heller at the service.
The SMART Transportation Division is mourning two union brothers who have died in recent weeks because of COVID-19.
Member Thurman Wheeler, 47, of Local 1348 (Centralia, Wash.) passed away on April 30 after being hospitalized for nearly two weeks with the virus. He was a Union Pacific conductor on the Portland east to Hinkle, Ore., pool.
“Thurman was liked and loved by all, and his loss is being felt very hard here in Portland,” said member Jeff Cubley of Local 1574. “He was an excellent person to work with, and he worked his tail off to provide for his family.”
Condolences also can be sent to Brother Wheeler’s wife:
19945 NE Clackamas Court
Portland, OR 97230
SMART Transportation Division Local 225 (Bellevue, Ohio) is mourning the passing of its president, Jason Ruffing, from COVID at age 40 on April 21.
Brother Ruffing was the local’s president for more than six years, served as LCA-687C secretary and was a past trustee of the local. He hired out with Norfolk Southern as a conductor in 2003 and was a certified remote control operator before becoming an engineer.
“Jason was well respected from his peers and the membership,” Local Chairperson Michael Bishop said. “Jason absolutely enjoyed helping anyone whether they needed it or not. He was the type of guy who would drop what he was doing to come help you out at any time. Jason will be missed dearly by his railroad brothers and sisters. Godspeed, Jason.”
President Ruffing loved to cook and grill during the local’s annual picnic, and never shared the secret ingredients of his special recipe spice mix.
A favorite pastime was camping at Tall Timbers campgrounds in Port Clinton, Ohio, and he taught CCW classes in his spare time, his obituary stated.
He served as a volunteer firefighter in Willard and Attica, was a supporter of Second Amendment rights and of the rights and freedoms we all have as Americans.
Brother Ruffing is survived by his parents, sisters, brothers and a number of other relatives.
The SMART Transportation Division offers its heartfelt condolences to the families of Brother Wheeler and Brother Ruffing, to their union brothers and sisters in Locals 1348 and 225 and to all those who knew them.
SMART Transportation Division Local 934 member Curtis A. Deines, 52, a member of our union for more than 20 years, died before dawn on the morning of March 19 after the SUV he was being transported in was involved in a head-on collision with another vehicle on U.S. Highway 2 near Ravenna, Neb.
The driver and three other rail workers in the SUV that Deines was riding in were transported for treatment, as was the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident, according to the Star-Herald of Scottsbluff, Neb. Deines passed away at the scene of the accident, the Buffalo County Sheriff’s Department stated in an accident report.
“He will be greatly missed here in Alliance,” said Local Chairperson Wendie Henderson of the Nebraska local.
Born in Torrington, Wyo., Brother Deines was a hall-of-fame athlete from his time as a center on the Chadron State College football team. He graduated college in 1996 with a degree in education.
He then entered into service with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad in the maintenance of way department and then transferred into train service as a conductor.
Great sources of pride and joy for him were watching his son, Colin, and daughter, KayLeah, succeed in life and becoming a grandpa, his family wrote in his obituary.
“Curt was loved by all and will be greatly missed for his big heart and infectious laugh,” his family wrote. “The role Curt played in each of our lives will never be forgotten.”
Brother Deines is survived by his wife, Sonya; his son, Colin Deines, and Colin’s girlfriend, Catie Williams; daughter, KayLeah King, and her husband, Robert; two grandchildren; his parents; his sister, Staci John, and her husband; two nieces; and a number of in-laws and other relatives.
A private memorial service is scheduled for March 27.
Brother Wesley Welch of Local 1381 (Hammond, Ind.), his wife and their two daughters lost their house in a fire Jan. 30 and are seeking help.
Welch, 39, a switchman with Norfolk Southern, and his family saw their home in Cedar Lake, Ind., destroyed and one family member was treated at a local hospital for smoke inhalation, according to a report from the Northwest Indiana Times.
Welch’s sister-in-law, Amanda Riley, has established an online fundraiser to assist Brother Welch, who has been a SMART-TD member for almost a decade, his wife and his daughters, 12 and 9, as they attempt to rebuild their lives.
“He’s a great guy — a great member,” said General Chairperson Justin Wolters (GCA-449) who is a fellow Local 1381 member.
Bryant, 34, a conductor with Canadian National, was furloughed in late May and had returned to service Aug. 10. Just four days later, he, his wife, and their three children saw their home in Carlton, Minn., destroyed.
No one was injured in the fire, as fortunately the family members were all outside of the house when it happened.
“They are currently waiting to rebuild, which will take some time,” said Michael Strand, secretary of Local 1067.
In a display of union fraternalism, Devin Clolinger, an applicant to Local 1067, has established an online fundraiser to help Brother Matt, his wife, Jenna, and their children Emma, 11, Grace, 3, and Matty, 1.
Britnee Griffin, daughter of Local 1963 President Mike Griffin, has been battling cancer since the spring.
Britnee Griffin, daughter of Mike Griffin (a yardmaster, alternate vice chairperson of GCA 347 and the president of Local 1963 in Louisville, Ky.), has been battling aggressive cancer since the spring. The medical bills for her family are mounting, and an online fundraiser has been established as the 26-year-old continues her treatment.
“The news has been overwhelming,” Britnee’s mother and Mike’s wife, Megan, posted on the online fundraising site GoFundMe. “We are asking for help with medical expenses. Prayers appreciated.”
What began as Stage 4 melanoma has spread to Britnee’s bones with spots on her skull, right shoulder and on both ribs. Cancer has also been found in her brain, lymph nodes, left breast and lungs. Megan Griffin said in an updated posted about two weeks ago that her daughter is in “unreal” pain. Doctors have prescribed pain medications and have decided to see if chemotherapy treatment for the next two months has any effect on the cancer.
“Any donation would be greatly appreciated,” Megan posted. “Thank you and God bless.”
On July 22 of this year, Local 1715 member Karen Taylor was shot five times in broad daylight while her Charlotte Area Transit Systems (CATS) bus was stopped to unload passengers.
“…just as the last person stepped off of her bus, a man appeared out of nowhere and shot five times into her bus,” Taylor’s daughter, Latavia Clark, wrote on a gofundme page opened for Taylor. “All five shots struck my unsuspecting mother in her head, neck, shoulder and ear. One bullet and bullet fragments are still lodged in her skull.”
Taylor has already had four surgeries and is facing more in the future. The road to recovery is expected to be a long one and the bills are adding up as Taylor’s worker’s compensation claim has been denied.