Hillside, Ill. – SMART SM Local 73 is partnering with Proviso Township and Jewel-Osco to provide added capacity for COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts, with its union hall functioning as a vaccine injection site. More than 1400 vaccines were administered today between 9am and 4pm at the local hall in Hillside, just west of downtown Chicago, for residents of any of the 15 villages in Proviso Township.
“This wouldn’t be happening in Hillside today without Local 73 stepping up and helping out,” said Hillside Mayor Joseph Tamburino, who was at the vaccination site throughout the day. “They set the room up and did everything we asked them to do and it’s fantastic. Their facility is just perfect for this.”
The union hall effectively functioned as a one-day pop-up vaccine clinic. The site was thoroughly cleaned and prepped ahead of time and a sanitation crew will be coming Monday night and doing a deep clean of the space.
“This wouldn’t be happening in Hillside today without Local 73 stepping up and helping out.”
– Hillside (Ill.) Mayor Joseph Tamburino
“We are proud to partner with Proviso Township, Jewel-Osco and Mayor Tamburino to provide a safe, convenient location for members of our community to receive their vaccine,” said Local 73 President and Business Manager Raymond Suggs. He added that the local is looking to help with additional vaccination days in coming weeks, depending on vaccine availability.
Nationally, SMART is part of a coordinated effort by U.S. building trades unions to make their facilities available to President Biden’s COVID-19 Relief Task Force for U.S. vaccine distribution. In February, the Governing Board of Presidents of North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) voted unanimously to offer more than 5,000 union halls and training centers to the vaccine distribution effort.
The Railroad, Mechanical and Engineering Department is excited to relaunch the Department’s Report in the Member’s Journal and online. This page is devoted to news for members belonging to the local unions and General Committees under this Department. Be sure to check future issues for the latest updates coming from the Department.
International Representative Charles Fraley Retires
On December 31, 2020, Charles (Charlie) J. Fraley retired as an International Representative for the SMART Railroad, Mechanical and Engineering Department. He was appointed to the position on October 1, 2004. As an International Representative, he negotiated, interpreted and applied agreements covering wages, hours, health benefits and other conditions of employment and represented employees in all conferences, negotiations or other proceedings with management. He also appeared and represented employees before any tribunal authorized to consider or adjust claims arising out of the interpretation or application of such agreements.
Prior to accepting the position of International Representative, Brother Fraley was General Chairperson for the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association. He serviced the commuter railroads in the Northeast along with Amtrak, CSX, Norfolk Southern, Springfield Terminal and D&H Railroad.
He hired on Penn Central Railroad in November 1975 as a laborer. In June 1976, shortly after Conrail was created, he became a sheet metal worker. He was Local Chairperson/President of Local Union 398 for seventeen years prior to accepting a full-time position as General Chairperson.
During his time working for the railroad, Brother Fraley was Chairman of the Selkirk Safety Committee, Co-Chairman of the Selkirk Safety Committee, Chairman of the Conrail Labor & Management Program, Chairman of various Conrail Quality Improvement teams, Waste Water Treatment Plant Operator, and Environmental Specialist. He was a member of the NRAB on the Second Division and various RSAC committees.
Brother Fraley received a High School Diploma in 1975 from Colonie Central High School and completed the Waste Water Treatment Plant Operator classes at Hudson Valley Community College and AFL-CIO Organizing Institute.
The Department thanks Brother Fraley for his dedicated service to the membership and wishes him a long and well-deserved retirement.
In the interim, International Representative Larry Holbert will continue to work hard to assist the General Committees, locals, and members under the Department and ensure they receive the highest quality representation. Brother Holbert has 41 years of railroad service.
Brother Holbert started his career with Burlington Northern Railroad in August of 1979, working in the Maintenance of Way Department until October of 1989. He then transferred into the Railroad, Mechanical and Engineering Department as a sheet metal worker apprentice. On April 9, 1990, he completed his apprenticeship and became a journeyperson. In January of 1996, he was elected to the position of Local Chairperson for Local 259 in Alliance, Nebraska, and in October of 2006, he was elected as an Executive Board Member to the U.S. District Council of Railroads. In June of 2008, he was elected to the position of General Chairperson for the U.S. District Council of Railroads, and then in May of 2011, he became an International Representative for this Department. Brother Holbert served as an International Representative until his appointment as Department Director in September of 2011, and he worked in this position until October of 2012 after the passing of his son, Michael. He returned to the International Representative position at this time and is currently serving in this role.
Brother Holbert and his wife Theresa have been married for 35 years, and they have three children. Jeffery, their oldest, lives in Alliance, Nebraska working for BNSF RR as an engineer. Their second child, Michael, lived in Alliance, Nebraska and was an electrician for BNSF Railroad. Their third child, Sarah, also lives in Alliance along with their three grandchildren. Sarah is a secretary working at Trinidad Bean Company.
Department Director Tony Iannone retired at the end of June in 2020. As of July 2020, Assistant to the General President and Special Counsel Donna Silverman oversees the Department and works closely with the International Representatives to serve the membership.
In this month’s video address from SMART General President Joseph Sellers, he looks at the recent passage of the American Rescue Plan.
The plan does more than provide direct cash relief through payments to working Americans and resources for COVID-19 vaccination efforts. This critical legislation also provides long-sought help for multiemployer pension plans, puts Amtrak members back to work, boosts transit funding, provides COBRA assistance to jobless workers and funds a round of mitigation efforts to help get America’s schoolchildren back in the classroom through funds for air system monitoring and new HVAC retrofit work that will create sheet metal jobs.
The confirmation by the U.S. Senate of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a member of the Laborers’ Union, to be President Joe Biden’s labor secretary ends a nearly 45-year absence of having a union member serve as the head of the U.S. Department of Labor.
The last unionist to serve as U.S. labor secretary was W.J. Usery Jr., an appointee of President Gerald Ford who was a member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. He led Ford’s DOL for about a year starting in 1976.
There had been a time when a nearly five-decade gap of having a union member be the top labor official in a president’s Cabinet would have been unusual.
When the DOL was established in the early 20th century, it was normal practice that an organized labor leader would be tapped to lead the agency overseeing labor relations. The first two U.S. secretaries of labor were union members, and in 1930, one of SMART-Transportation Division’s predecessor unions saw one of its leaders ascend to the top of the DOL during one of the darkest economic times our nation has known. As the third secretary of labor, the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen’s William N. Doak helped establish a lasting legacy.
Doak was born Dec. 12, 1882, in Wythe County, Va., and began a railroad career as a switchman with Norfolk and Western near the turn of the century. According to a biography published on the Library of Virginia’s website, he joined BRT in 1904 and was elected a general chairperson in 1908.
In 1916, Doak was elected BRT vice president and became the organization’s national legislative representative in Washington, D.C. He continued to work on railroad labor relations matters including serving on adjustment boards, arguing before congressional committees and adjusting how rail negotiations were handled on a regional level. The National Mediation Board (NMB) was established in the 1920s while Doak had an active presence on Capitol Hill for the BRT, and he no doubt had a hand in establishing how the NMB operated.
In 1922, he was elected first vice president and was elected assistant to BRT President William Granville Lee in 1927. Doak served as acting BRT president for a time while Lee traveled abroad and also unsuccessfully ran for political office on three occasions, including for Virginia State Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
In 1928, Doak was elected to a combined post of national legislative representative and editor of the Brotherhood of Trainmen’s publication, The Railroad Trainman. A personal friend of Herbert Hoover, Doak worked on Hoover’s successful presidential campaign and served as a labor committee advisor for the Republican National Committee. Upon taking office in 1929, President Hoover eyed Doak as a possible labor secretary nominee, but opposition rose from the American Federation of Labor that scuttled that nomination.
However, after the Great Depression struck, Hoover changed course and nominated Doak to lead the DOL in 1930. In collaboration with his immediate predecessor, James J. Davis, who became a U.S. senator representing Pennsylvania after leaving as labor secretary, Doak’s crowning achievement was helping the Davis-Bacon Act — legislation that established prevailing wage laws that benefit our Sheet Metal brothers and sisters and other union laborers — to become federal law in 1931. That law remains in effect 90 years later.
“Doak was sensitive to unemployment matters and supported studies of public works programs and unemployment insurance to offset the effects of the Great Depression,” historian Jonathan Grossman wrote in an article marking the 75th anniversary of the Department of Labor that was published in the February 1988 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. “But economic conditions worsened during his relatively brief tenure, and he was overwhelmed by the worldwide economic disaster.”
After serving as DOL head for the majority of Hoover’s Depression-ravaged term, Doak left the post in March 1933 after Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office and returned from a leave he had taken from his BRT leadership position as national legislative representative.
Just months later, on Oct. 23, 1933, Doak passed away at age 50 from cardiovascular disease. However, the work that he did as a labor leader continues to reverberate through our organization to this day.
Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) implemented planned service cuts the morning of Monday, March 8, in spite of objections made weeks ago by union leadership and echoed by New York state senators just before the cuts went into effect.
This photo, provided by a LIRR worker to Alternate Vice President/General Chairperson Anthony Simon, shows a crowded Long Island Rail Road car early March 8, the day LIRR implemented service cuts.
Crowded cars and the potential for the early morning commute from places like New Hyde Park or Jamaica Station to become a COVID spreader event with no opportunity for social distancing, as shown by photos provided to SMART-TD Alternate Vice President Anthony Simon by frontline workers, thousands of whom he represents as general chairperson of GCA-505.
“These reductions have now made Long Island Rail Road service unsafe as far as allowing for social distancing is concerned,” Simon said.
In response to LIRR leadership’s implementation of the cuts, which reduced weekday service to the equivalent of what the system offers on the weekend, more than 3,000 unionized workers from SMART, SMART-TD and six other labor unions submitted the following message via email on March 8:
“WE THE UNDERSIGNED; ARE LIRR WORKERS WHO ARE OUTRAGED BY THE DECISION TO REDUCE SERVICE FOR LIRR RIDERS AT A TIME WHEN OPENING THE ECONOMY, CONTINUED DISTANCING, INCENTIVIZING CUSTOMERS TO RETURN AND PRIORITIZING THE USE OF FEDERAL DOLLARS IS CRUCIAL TO A FULL AND SAFE RECOVERY. WE ARE DISGUSTED THAT THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THESE CUTS AND THE INSENSITIVITY TO OUR QUALITY OF LIFE FOR OUR FRONT-LINE CRAFTS HAS DESTROYED OUR MORALE AND TRUST IN THE AGENCY. WE DEMAND YOU LISTEN TO YOUR “HEROES” AND RESTORE SERVICE FOR THE BETTERMENT OF OUR SYSTEM.”
In addition to Simon, SMART-Mechanical Division General Chairperson John McCloskey and TD yardmaster General Chairperson Michael Miele signed the letter addressed to New York Metropolitan Transit Agency Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye and LIRR President Phillip Eng.
“The MTA’s desire to outsource our work, disregard our membership’s quality of life and forget about what we have delivered throughout a global pandemic is inexcusable,” the union leaders stated. “We certainly hope you can get on the right track in winning us back for the good of this great railroad that we have built and have always been proud to serve. Until then, we will continue to work hard for our customers with the understanding that there is a lack of good faith and insufficient appreciation toward our members from leadership.”
Other unions that signed on to the letter included the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen; Transportation Communications Union; International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers; National Conference of Firemen & Oilers, SEIU 32BJ; Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen; and Independent Railway Supervisors Association.
The International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) pledges its enthusiastic support to U.S. Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio as he considers a potential bid for the United States Senate.
“Rep. Ryan has stood throughout his career as an elected official with the working women and men of SMART as well as workers across Ohio and the United States,” said Joseph Sellers, Jr., SMART General President. “We know Tim Ryan thanks to his work on behalf of SMART members and his understanding of the issues facing working Ohio families and will serve them well in the US Senate.”
Rep. Ryan has stood up to anti-worker attacks and has co-sponsored national legislation that would require two certified people to operate freight trains, strengthened apprenticeship programs, and voted in favor of the HEROES Act, which would have protected SMART members during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has also worked hard to protect retirement security from corporate greed that would have eviscerated retirement savings and the quality of life for millions of workers and retirees.
SMART, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, is one of North America’s most dynamic and diverse unions with 200,000 members. SMART’s members ensure the quality of the air we breathe, promote energy efficiency, produce and provide the vital services that move products to market and passengers to their destinations. We are sheet metal workers, service technicians, bus operators, engineers, conductors, sign workers, welders, production employees and more. With members in scores of different occupations, we advocate for fairness in the workplace, excellence at work and opportunity for all working families.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler joined the co-chairs of the AFL-CIO Retirement Security Working Group, UFCW International President Marc Perrone and SMART General President Joseph Sellers, in the following statement on the inclusion of multiemployer pension relief in the American Rescue Plan, which passed the House today:
After a lifetime of hard work, working people deserve to retire with dignity. The labor movement is proud of our negotiated multiemployer pension plans, which have provided retirement income security for millions of working people for decades. Reckless Wall Street behavior, industry deregulation and employers’ deviant use of corporate bankruptcy have threatened the financial security of millions who’ve worked hard only to have that promise robbed from them. The provisions included in this package are important steps that will help eligible retirement funds protect the retirement benefits we earned by sacrificing wage increases.
The current pandemic has only exacerbated the dire situation and the need for immediate action. The legislation contains provisions designed to help protect some plans that are currently healthy from sliding into insolvency because of the unprecedented economic shutdown, and also goes a long way toward stabilizing the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and the multiemployer pension system overall. This system not only provides retirement income to the 10.4 million hardworking Americans who participate in the multiemployer plans, alleviating the need to rely on government safety-net programs that already are stretched thin, but also generates more than $158 billion annually in federal tax revenue that benefits communities across the country.
The Senate should act quickly to send this relief to President Biden’s desk so we can keep the promise of a secure retirement for those who have earned, and deserve, nothing less.
SMART Transportation Division Alternate Vice President and General Chairperson Anthony Simon and eight New York state senators took the CEO and chairman of the New York Metropolitan Transit Agency to task for planned service reductions for the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR).
The carrier plans to reduce weekday service to the equivalent of a weekend schedule beginning March 8, a move described by state Sen. James Gaughran and seven colleagues as operating LIRR as a “skeleton service.”
“We urge you to reconsider this decision and withhold implementation of the planned service reduction,” the senators wrote in their letter, dated March 3. “These ridership cuts will negatively impact countless essential workers, like the workers of the MTA, who rely on public transportation to earn a living, support their families, and contribute to our economy.”
In his letter dated Feb. 24, Simon communicated to MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye that this course of action also did not seem to be a sound strategy as a potential spring economic awakening for New York City appears to be approaching.
Alternate Vice President and GCA-505 General Chairperson Anthony Simon appears Sept. 30 at a rally in New York City.
“While the MTA should be incentivizing customers back to the system, why would we choose now to reduce service further?” wrote GC Simon of GCA-505, which represents SMART-TD members employed by LIRR. “It makes no sense that riders should now have to return to a system with limited service opportunities and potential concerns for safe distancing capabilities when vaccine availability is improving and both federal and state leaders are attempting to stimulate the economy.”
The service reductions were supposed to last only until particular projects were completed by LIRR but could now be extended past the May 23 date that LIRR had given, according to Simon.
“Our members have weathered the effects of this pandemic as the heroes you’ve gratefully declared them to be time and time again. They have delivered to the riding public through some of the most difficult times in the history of our railroad,” Simon wrote. “Now is the time for them to continue delivering by leaving the adjusted weekday schedule as is and not seek a limited savings opportunity by creating a disincentive for our customers to come back.”
If you are a union member who participates in certain Union Plus programs and have been affected by the severe storms in Texas, you may be eligible for financial assistance through the Union Plus Disaster Relief Grant program.1
Union Plus Disaster Relief Grants of $500 are available to eligible participants of one of the following programs:
To qualify for a Union Plus Disaster Relief Grant:
Your residence must be in a county qualifying for individual assistance money from FEMA. To check if your county has been designated as an area eligible for individual assistance, visit FEMA’s disaster declarations page.
You must have had a Union Plus Credit Card for at least three months, Union Plus Personal Loan for at least six months, Union Plus Mortgage, Union Plus Retiree Health Insurance, Union Plus Life or Accidental Death Insurance or Union Plus Auto Insurance for at least 12 months with that account or policy in good standing (be up to date on payments).
If you participate in the Union Plus Credit Card Program and want to apply for a disaster relief grant, call 1-800-622-2580.
If you participate in any other of the designated programs and want to apply for a disaster relief grant, call 1-800-472-2005.
1Certain restrictions, limitations and qualifications apply to these grants. Additional information and eligibility criteria can be obtained at https://www.unionplus.org/hardship-help/disaster-relief-grants.
2The Union Plus Credit Cards are issued by Capital One, N.A. pursuant to a license from Mastercard International Incorporated. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
SMART Local 20 Ships $2k in Plumbing Supplies to TX Members
CAROL STREAM, IL – SMART Illinois Locals 73, 219 and 265 have organized a “Texas water drive” to gather donations of bottled water and ship truckloads to families in Texas who lack access to clean water in the wake of the state’s recent winter storms and power outages.
As Texas’ power grid collapsed during frigid temperatures, causing some households to also lose access to clean water due to interrupted supplies or burst pipes, SMART Local 265 members began asking what they could do to help. They communicated with other members of the union in Texas and were told people needed clean water more than anything else.
“I hope it helps them with a small amount of relief to have the very basic necessity of water,” said Tom Syron, a Local 265 journeyperson who lives in Plainfield, Ill. Syron reached out to his local union president to see what they could do to assist and then helped spearhead the relief effort.
Local 265, which represents members serving the collar counties outside of Lake and Cook in Northeastern Illinois, launched a social media campaign to raise awareness of the specific need for water among its Texas members, as well as the community at large, and began to solicit donations. In less than 48 hours, the union mobilized to secure 16 pallets of water and two 26-foot trucks. Local 73 soon joined the effort, filling a third truck with donated water bottles. The three trucks rolled out from the Chicago suburbs for Texas early Wednesday morning, carrying a total of more than 30,000 bottles.
In Indiana, SMART Local 20 members purchased and donated more than $2,000 in residential plumbing supplies and fittings and shipped it all to SMART locals in Texas. The supplies will be given to members facing significant plumbing repairs after pipes froze and leaked during power outages.
“I could not be prouder of our members, our friends, our families and local employers that have contributed to this effort,” said SMART Local 265 President/Business Manager John Daniel. “We stand together when our members or communities need support, whether that’s in Illinois, Texas, or elsewhere. Actions like Tom’s make it very clear, the members are the union!”
“We stand together when our members or communities need support, whether that’s in Illinois, Texas, or elsewhere.”
– SMART Local 265 President/
Business Manager John Daniel
Daniel said donations came from hard-working members of the three SMART locals, as well as area employers, including John Hancock (which does recordkeeping for the union’s pension plan), The Dobbs Group of Greystone Consulting, Calibre CPA Group, Segal Consulting and Baum Sigman Auerbach & Neuman LTD.
SMART has more than 14,000 members in Illinois and over 7,500 members in Texas. Last Friday, the union contacted its locals across the country and quickly organized a national peer-to-peer text bank in which individual union activists from outside Texas reached out to members in Texas and asked how they were doing, did they need any help, and if so what would be most helpful. The text banking was critical to assessing what was actually happening on the ground, which Texas communities needed the most help, and where the union could set up staging areas for donated supplies as they arrived.
CLEVELAND, Ohio (Feb. 23, 2021) — Two of the country’s largest freight railroad unions achieved a favorable decision in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday regarding an attempt by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to preempt legislation passed by a number of states that established a minimum of two-person operating crews on freight trains.
The case, brought by the states of California, Washington and Nevada and by the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers — Transportation Division (SMART-TD) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), challenged former FRA Administrator Ron Batory’s attempt to cancel the laws of those and other states while at the same time attempting to authorize nationwide one-person crews. The unions and states argued that Batory’s May 2019 order violated the comment-and-notice procedures of Administrative Procedures Act (APA) and that his agency could not implicitly preempt the state safety rules.
The Court of Appeals ruled that FRA’s order was “arbitrary and capricious,” taking particular note that the assertions by FRA and the rail carriers that reducing the number of crew members in the cab to one person could improve safety “did not withstand scrutiny” and “was lacking.” The court also criticized the order as not being a “logical outgrowth” of the two-person crew proposal, because “[t]here was nothing in the [proposed regulation] to put a person on notice that the FRA might adopt a national one-person crew limit.”
The court chided FRA for basing its negative preemption decision on “an economic rationale” instead of what is its main obligation — safety.
The court also found the order’s “real and intended effect is to authorize nationwide one-person train crews and to bar any contrary state regulations.” In that it utterly failed to address the safety concerns raised by nearly 1,550 commenters who support two-person crews, the court found the order’s rationale was arbitrary and capricious, thus violating the APA.
Likewise, the court eviscerated the lack of a sound factual basis in the order, which merely cited a study funded by the Association of American Railroads, holding that “a single study suggesting that one-person crew operations ‘appear as safe’ as two-person crews seems a thin reed on which to base a national rule.”
“First, we thank the more than 1,500 BLET and SMART–TD members who took the time to comment on the need for two-person crews, because you have made a difference,” said SMART-TD President Jeremy R. Ferguson and BLET President Dennis R. Pierce. “We also congratulate the judges in this case for recognizing the former Administrator overstepped his bounds, and we look ahead to working with the FRA when crew size is again considered on a national level by the agency as a matter of public and operational safety.”
“We assert, and will continue to assert, that having two sets of eyes and two people working in concert together with any improvements in technology, will be the best way to serve public safety and to continue the effective and efficient movement of our nation’s railroads,” the union presidents said.
The court ruling, in vacating and remanding the FRA order, sends the matter of a potential rulemaking for freight railroad crew size back to FRA for the agency’s consideration. It also means that two-person crew legislation in the states that had been targeted by FRA’s order remain in effect.
The SMART Transportation Division is comprised of approximately 125,000 active and retired members of the former United Transportation Union, who work in a variety of crafts in the transportation industry.
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen represents nearly 58,000 professional locomotive engineers and trainmen throughout the United States. The BLET is the founding member of the Rail Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
In recognition that working together on diversity, equity, and inclusion within our industry would be the most effective way to effect real and lasting change, SMART and SMACNA have engaged in ongoing discussions about recruiting and retaining a diverse and inclusive workforce with the skills to meet our needs now and in the future.
In an initial step affirming our joint objectives, the SMACNA Board of Directors and the SMART General Executive Council adopted the following statement at their respective January 2021 meetings:
SMACNA and SMART recognize that diversity strengthens our workforce, benefits our communities, and makes the unionized sheet metal industry stronger and more competitive by reflecting the communities where we operate and the people we serve. To affirm our commitment to diversity and inclusion, we have agreed to develop, with the help of experts, a coordinated strategic plan with long-term and short-term objectives which will be evaluated and adjusted as necessary. Our unified goal is to shift the mindset of management, labor leaders, and our respective memberships to recruit, welcome, and retain the most competent and skilled workforce available while embracing differences in age, ability, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, national origin, language, marital status, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, and other characteristics that make individuals unique. SMACNA and SMART are strongly committed to take the necessary steps to achieve our goal of a diverse industry with no tolerance of bullying, harassment, or discrimination. We will provide regular updates on our progress on the strategic plan and on our continued work to promote our shared values of diversity, inclusion, and equity.
SMACNA and SMART are now in the process of developing a strategic plan to help us reach our goals and build the foundation of an industry dedicated to equity and inclusion