January 22, 2021 — The Rail Unions comprising the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition (CBC), negotiating together in the current round of National Negotiations, have issued the following statement:
The CBC and the nation’s Rail Carriers first met concerning the November 1, 2019, Section 6 Notices in January 2020. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has made meetings for groups of this size challenging, the parties continued to meet virtually to make presentations concerning their proposals throughout 2020. Additional meetings have now been scheduled for early 2021.
While CBC and the Rail Carriers continue to share and discuss all aspects of what would be necessary to reach a voluntary agreement, the Rail Carriers have not made any proposals worthy of consideration by the membership of the CBC Unions. The parties will continue to meet in good faith as we move into 2021, fully cognizant that it is our members who must ratify any voluntary agreement.
The unions comprising the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition are: the American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA); the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen / Teamsters Rail Conference (BLET); the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS); the International Association of Machinists (IAM); the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB); the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers/SEIU (NCFO); the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU); the Transportation Communications Union / IAM (TCU), including TCU’s Brotherhood Railway Carmen Division (BRC); and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART–TD).
Collectively, the CBC unions represent more than 105,000 railroad workers covered by the various organizations’ national agreements, and comprise over 80% of the workforce who will be impacted by this round of negotiations.
President Joe Biden made good on a promise to support workers and the labor movement on his first day when he fired National Labor Board General Counsel Pete Robb within 24 hours of taking office.
Robb, a former union buster with a virulently anti-union record, refused Biden’s request to resign on inauguration day. No president had previously fired an NLRB counsel, though one anti-union counsel resigned at the request of President Harry Truman in 1950.
The position of NLRB General Counsel wields significant power in the field of labor power because it is the General Counsel who decides which cases to prosecute while administering how to follow the law when cases are argued.
Robb had spent the past few years advancing numerous employer-friendly arguments and interpretations of the National Labor Relations Act. He made it a priority to allow employers to unilaterally modify contract terms and narrowed the scope in which union stewards and representatives could operate at the worksite. He also helped shape employer-friendly NLRB decisions that resulted in what some call a “slap on the wrist” when employers violate the law.
SMART was stunned and horrified by the attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol building two weeks ago, which was encouraged by Mr. Trump and resulted in the murder of a U.S. Capitol police officer. Despite this attack on our beloved country, healing is coming soon. Today, Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn in as President and Vice President of the United States. Before even taking office, President Biden had already shown that he will prioritize working Americans and that unions will have a seat at the table in the Biden administration.
The Biden-Harris Transition Team has engaged with unions, including SMART. Our very own David Bernett, NEMIC Administrator and member of Local 12-SM in Pittsburgh, PA, served as a volunteer on the U.S. Department of Labor Agency Review Team for the Biden-Harris Transition. SMART attended meetings with various Transition teams and emphasized our members’ priorities, including two-person crews, protecting our pensions, rail safety, indoor air quality, bus driver assaults, prevailing wage, and action to help our members during the COVID-19 pandemic. SMART even met with a member of the Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board to discuss the importance of indoor air quality and the value offered by our union and its high-skilled workforce.
President Biden has been listening. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was nominated to serve as Labor Secretary and lead the Department of Labor. He is a member of the Laborers and has fought for working families his entire career. In addition, Pete Buttigieg was nominated to serve as Transportation Secretary and lead the Department of Transportation. He has committed to addressing worker needs and invest in our infrastructure. SMART applauds these nominations.
The Biden administration will stand up for our members and their families after four years of empty promises. SMART looks forward to working with the Biden administration and will hold the administration accountable to its promises to build an economy that lifts up American working families. SMART will keep its membership informed every step of the way.
We have just witnessed a sad day in American history. Leave no doubt, these violent, anti-democratic actions were sown by the incitement of the current president and his elected apologists, who have misled their supporters for far too long.
SMART, along with our sisters and brothers across the labor movement, rejects any threat to our nation’s peaceful transfer of power, and stands ready to defend our nation’s democratic institutions.
The North America’s Building Trades Unions’ (NABTU) President Sean McGarvey released the following statement in response to the mob of domestic terrorists that attacked the U.S. Capitol building during the electoral college certification proceedings:
“Today’s despicable events are unprecedented, and, as we have all seen, are extremely dangerous. North America’s Building Trades Unions call on President Trump to immediately step down and transfer power per the Constitution and the Presidential Succession Act of 1947. If he refuses, the Cabinet must immediately invoke the 25th amendment to remove the President. Any less action by the Cabinet, and America should consider them all coconspirators.
“We also call on Senators Cruz and Hawley to immediately resign along with the twelve other U.S. Senators and the 140 House members objecting to the Electoral College certification. They all must step down immediately.
“We call on a bipartisan commission to investigate and identify all planners, funders, and coordinators of this attempted coup and refer them to prosecution by the U.S. Justice Department, and further for them to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
“If these actions are not taken immediately, in anticipation of what is already one of the worst domestic episodes in our country’s history, things could get much worse over the next 14 days very quickly. Thus, we urge all law-abiding Americans to stand up and demand the same to protect our precious democracy from tyrants and thugs.”
The North America’s Building Trades Unions is an alliance of 14 national and international unions in the building and construction industry that collectively represent over 3 million skilled craft professionals in the United States and Canada. Each year, our unions and our signatory contractor partners invest over $1.6 billion in private-sector money to fund and operate over 1,900 apprenticeship training and education facilities across North America that produce the safest, most highly trained, and productive, skilled craft workers found anywhere in the world. NABTU is dedicated to creating economic security and employment opportunities for its construction workers by safeguarding wage and benefits standards, promoting responsible private capital investments, investing in renowned apprenticeship and training, and creating pathways to the middle class for women, communities of color and military veterans in the construction industry.
As we get into winter the cases of COVID-19 are continuing and even increasing. The SASMI Trustees see a need for reinstituting the COVID-19 Wage Replacement Temporary Benevolent Disaster Relief Benefit. However, more is known about the virus and testing has become more available so that it is possible to accurately identify positive cases. Accordingly, the Trustees have modified the Benefit to reflect the current situation.
This updated benefit is available for those who test positive for COVID themselves, or for a family member who resided with them that tests positive and have a need to quarantine. This benefit is only available if you were/are not being compensated for those day in quarantine by any Employer or Trust Fund under any Federal, State or Locality law (some due to expire prior to the end of the year) or special resolution.
Starting November 2020 and continuing until the Trustees modify or terminate the benefit, in each calendar month, a Participant is eligible for up to two (2) work weeks (10 work days) of wages at eight (8) times the Average Hourly Wage on which Contributions were remitted in the Employee’s Home Local for each day of quarantine.
“SMART joins labor unions across North America in mourning the loss AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department President Larry Willis.
Brother Willis was a tremendous leader who provided determined guidance, measured action and stood undaunted by the multitude of challenges transportation labor in our country faces now, and will continue to face going forward.
With wide ranging experience as a lawyer, congressional staff member, policy expert and worker advocate, he brought a deep understanding of policy and transportation issues to his work. He forged strong relationships with government and political leaders and worked tirelessly to help unite and build power for transportation workers across the United States.
Along with working families across the transportation trades, SMART will miss his leadership, his tremendous insight and his deep well of experience. We are filled with sadness for his family and friends at this tragic loss and mourn with them.”
The following is a statement from SMART General President Joseph Sellers, Jr. on the election of Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris:
“On behalf of the men and women of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART), we congratulate President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their historic election.
The American people have spoken loud and clear. The diligence and respect election officials held for every legitimate vote strengthens the moral authority of our American democracy and the vital importance of free and fair elections.
SMART looks forward to a Biden-Harris Administration that puts working Americans interests ahead regardless of party and we look forward to working alongside him to recover from the brutal pandemic and economic decline that resulted from the response to it.
It is time for politicians of all stripes to put down their political differences and put our nation back on track towards a stronger, healthier, more prosperous and unified democracy that works for all Americans.”
SMART-TD retiree Gregg Weaver, left, and his wife Carol wear SMART “Blue Collar Biden” shirts as they watch Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speak Saturday, Oct. 24, in Bristol, Pa.
SMART representatives had a front-row seat as Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden spoke Oct. 24 at Bristol Community College in Bristol, Pa.
SMART-TD New Jersey State Legislative Director Ron Sabol and Gregg Weaver, a retired TD Local 838 member and former Local 1390 officer who served as a conductor for many Amtrak rides taken by Biden, were in the front row at the “drive-in” rally that was broadcast live on CNN from the town outside Philadelphia.
“What we heard from Joe Biden today was a concrete plan,” Sabol said. “He has a strategy to address the virus. He has a plan to repair the economy. He has ideas and has a strategy to make things better going forward with a focus on transportation and infrastructure.”
Weaver, who worked the rails on both the passenger and freight side with Conrail for 42 years, said Biden has proven his concern for the working people. Weaver’s son, Blake, a Local 838 member, followed in his father’s path and has been an Amtrak conductor for more than 16 years.
Gregg Weaver, a retiree from TD Local 838, and his son Blake, a member of TD Local 838 and an Amtrak conductor, attend Joe Biden’s rally on Saturday, Oct. 24.
“Everybody wants to talk to him (Joe Biden) after the speech – there were politicians, the big-money donors who have millions,” Weaver said. “He didn’t go after the big donors. He picked a blue-collar working man to come talk to him. He has time for us.”
Biden addressed the COVID pandemic at the outset, mentioning that the country had set a record for daily cases with more than 80,000. The Biden campaign has observed social-distancing and mask protocols at its rallies to avoid the transmission of COVID-19. Most of the attendees participated in the rally from their cars, honking their horns in unison to show appreciation during the speech.
“I will shut down the virus, not the economy,” Biden said. “We can build back better.”
With just days until Election Day, Biden’s speech touched upon a number of union-related issues, such as infrastructure, the gigantic $1.5 trillion corporate tax cuts in late 2017 that remain the signature legislative accomplishment of the current administration and the worsening COVID-19 pandemic.
“This guy’s not on the level. He thinks Wall Street built thus country,” Biden said. “You and I know who built this country … working people built it — the middle class, and unions built the middle class.”
In the April 2018 SMART Transportation Division News reported how Class I rail carriers reaped great benefits from those Republican tax cuts.
Union Pacific (UP) received a $5.8 billion boost. CSX saved $3.6 billion, Norfolk Southern (NS) about $3.48 billion and Kansas City Southern (KCS) $488 million. BNSF, a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary, reported in its Form 10-K filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it received a tax benefit of $7.4 billion. Savings for the two Canadian-based Class I railroads also increased, reported at $1.4 billion (U.S.) for Canadian National (CN) and about $406 million (U.S.) for Canadian Pacific.
“Vice President Biden understands where working people are coming from. He’s been there. He knows what kind of struggle the working people of country are going through,” Sabol said. “With Biden, SMART members, labor and the middle class will absolutely have a seat at the table.”
Today, thousands of SMART members and other unionized essential frontline employees still are waiting for additional assistance and protections that are being blocked by the Republican-controlled Senate. For others, enhanced unemployment and sickness benefits that were in effect and a lifeline early in the pandemic have expired.
“How many [parents] a day can look at their kids and say with confidence, ‘everything’s going to be OK’ and mean it?” Biden asked. “Times are hard. Unemployment is way up. Folks are worried about making their next rent or mortgage payment, whether their health care will be ripped away in the middle of a pandemic. Worried about sending their kids to school … worried about not sending them to school.
“They see folks at the top doing much better while the rest are wondering who’s looking out for me. That’s Donald Trump’s presidency.”
Legislation to help union workers such as the HEROES Act and the Moving Forward Act has been stopped by Trump and his Republican allies, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Senate.
Attendees of the Joe Biden rally in Bristol take a group photo before the former vice president’s speech. From left are Mary Kate Weaver; Carol Weaver; TD Local 838 retiree Gregg Weaver; Tyler Hutchinson; SMART-TD New Jersey State Legislative Director Ron Sabol and TD Local 838 member Blake Weaver.
Weaver reminds his SMART-TD brothers and sisters that railroaders especially need to keep in mind that their benefits are vulnerable to the whims of Capitol Hill.
A vote for Trump and for his Republican allies is opening the door for workers’ health care, jobs and pensions to be targeted, he said. Children would be off their parents’ health coverage at age 18 instead of being covered until age 26 under the Affordable Care Act.
Weaver said a vote for Democrats would protect union jobs and railroaders. Biden would not be hostile to Amtrak, whereas Trump and Republicans have habitually tried to cut funding for the national passenger rail network.
“Joe Biden has got their backs. He’s not going to make things worse for them,” Weaver said. “There will be a lot less fighting with the Democrats than with the Republicans.”
Biden gave a brief outline of his economic recovery plan — taxes would not be raised on any family making less than $400,000, while making corporations pay their fair share.
“It’s time for working people and the middle class to get tax relief,” Biden said.
He also said his administration would focused on job creation and education.
“We’re going to create millions of union jobs modifying the infrastructure to modernize it, “ he said.
Biden also emphasized in the speech that he is not banning fracking, an accusation leveled by Trump lately on the campaign trail.
To get involved, text SMART Army to 21333 and for voting information, text SMART vote to 21333.
From left, local chairperson Edgar Menendez; vice local chairperson Herminio Hernandez; member Emmerett Watson; member Silvena Cazares; and Legislative Representative Latonia Martinez of TD Local 1608 show their support. Photo submitted by SMART-TD California State Legislative Director Louis Costa.
Front row, from left: Rosana Santana, executive secretary; Maria Magallon, operations manager; and Iveth Lopez, administrative assistant. Back row, from left: Local 1608 Chairperson Edgar Menendez; Local 1563 Chairperson Robert Gonzalez; Local 1565 Chairperson Quintin Wormley; Local 1564 Chairperson Andy Carter; GO-875 General Chairperson John M. Ellis; Local 1563 Vice Local Chairperson Jaime Delgadillo; and Local 1564 Vice Local Chairperson Greg Smith. Photo submitted by TD GC Ellis.
Local 72 (Battle Creek, Mich.) Alternate Legislative Representative Ray Sones shows his support for SMART-endorsed presidential candidate Joe Biden.
The livelihoods of thousands of transportation workers have been disrupted by COVID since its onset this past spring.
Our brothers and sisters at Amtrak are the latest to have their lives upended by this pandemic.
Nearly 2,000 of the carrier’s unionized workers, including 500 SMART brothers and sisters were targeted recent furloughs that are to go into effect on November 1.
To make matters worse, Amtrak is cutting service at a moment when people in the Midwest and others who may not feel comfortable flying need an alternative and accessible means of transport that only Amtrak can provide.