Archive for the ‘Leadership Messages’ Category

Fifth Circuit vacates injunction in crew-consist case

Today, Aug. 28, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit issued its decision in BNSF et al v. SMART-TD (Case No. 20-10162) concerning crew consist.

This decision is a long-awaited victory for the Union. The appellate court vacated the injunction that forced SMART-TD General Committees to bargain over crew consist, despite the existence of moratoria which bar such negotiation.

SMART-TD has always read those moratoria clauses to bar the service of Section 6 Notices to negotiate over crew consist until the last protected employee voluntarily separated from service. Indeed, that is the very reason for their existence.

But despite the long-standing nature of these clauses, the carriers presented a new and novel theory that the moratoria did not actually bar crew-consist negotiations.

The carriers tested this theory out by filing suit against SMART-TD in October 2019 and moving for a preliminary injunction in December 2019. In their request for an injunction, the carriers asked a district court in Texas to force SMART-TD to bargain now in spite of the moratoria. That court issued its decision on February 11, 2020, finding that even though the dispute over the moratoria was minor, and no arbitral determination had been made, SMART-TD was required to bargain now.

Under the RLA, minor disputes must be resolved through arbitration, not Section 6 bargaining. In the 22-page opinion, the appellate court walked through the various bases on which an injunction can be issued in Railway Labor Act (RLA) disputes. The 5th Circuit Court found that none existed here.

Rather, it concluded that the carriers had failed to exhaust the administrative remedy provided under the the RLA arbitration regarding the moratoria clauses.

SMART endorses Joe Biden for president

Statement from SMART General President Joseph Sellers, Jr. July 1, 2020

The International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) is pleased to endorse Vice President Joe Biden for President of the United States, following a unanimous vote of its General Executive Council.

Biden

The endorsement was informed by discussions with and feedback from SMART members and leaders from across the United States who met to discuss SMART issues and which candidate best supports them. Over the past four years, SMART leadership has also met with all the major presidential candidates from both parties, including the incumbent president, and had meaningful dialogue with them regarding issues impacting SMART members.

SMART has engaged with and listened to our members from coast to coast about their views and opinions regarding our union, their jobs and current events that affect their future. This effort was launched to ensure members have a say in shaping the course of our union as it proceeds to advance the needs and viewpoints of the membership.

Biden has a long history of engaging with SMART members and working families in both the sheet metal and transportation industries. The endorsement decision was based on Biden’s strong support of the concerns most important to our members, including the need for two-person railroad crews, retirement and pension security, protection of prevailing wages, and a prioritization of workplace safety. He also is dedicated to acting on a plan for real infrastructure work to enhance employment opportunities for current and future members in the industries SMART represents. SMART members have made it clear they can no longer wait after four years of empty promises for new infrastructure initiatives from the current administration.

From his early years working with local sheet metal workers as a County Commissioner in Delaware, to his frequent meetings with SMART Amtrak conductors during his commute back and forth to Washington, D.C., Joe Biden has been acutely aware of and engaged with the issues on the minds of our members.

After a series of discussions with Biden’s campaign staff, where members’ feedback and concerns were shared with the candidate, Vice President Biden took the time to respond with a video outlining his positions on the issues. His impassioned message in this video proves that Biden is the clear choice for our union and the membership.

SMART is highly engaged in the political process to ensure our issues are advanced and our members’ livelihoods are protected. We also strive to ensure union leadership is transparent and clear with our members when it comes to decisions in the electoral arena. We work to advance our members’ issues by advocating and educating on their behalf while supporting candidates, regardless of party, who stand with SMART members and for issues important to all working families.

SMART leadership statement on George Floyd, protests

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Protests in both the United States and Canada have been used to focus upon racial justice in our communities. SMART stands united with those who are committed to peacefully work towards a racially just society that provides the freedom of opportunity to all.

Many of our fellow citizens are hurting. We cannot be silent in the quest to achieve much-needed social change. We equally stand against those who uphold racism, bigotry and violence. Make no mistake, fighting racism is a labor issue. Bigotry and racism have been used to prevent working people from securing a voice in the workplace for the course of our existence. It is used to divide and conquer by pitting workers against each other. This cannot continue and we must focus on real change and for reforms that address issues of racial and economic inequality.

Over the course of this pandemic, there has been a shift toward caring and empathy. Together, we protect each other. We want you to know that you are my sisters and brothers, that you are my community, that you matter to me! We were moved by our brother, Pastor Paul, “The only reason to look down on someone is to give them a hand up.”

Through our strategic plan we continue our enhanced commitment for systematic change for women and people of color within the industries we represent through our actions and dedicated resources across the United States, Canada and our Labor Movement. We will continue this path and focus to bring about real change. We encourage all members, our industry partners and our communities to join in these efforts.

One life lost is one life too many. Our deepest sympathies and heartbreak lie with the family of George Floyd as well as the many others whose lives were tragically cut short before him. We urge all to remember them through a peaceful struggle towards racial equality for all and we condemn those engaging in violence, the destruction of property and the loss of jobs.

Early this week, the headquarters of the AFL-CIO was damaged during clashes in Washington, D.C. As AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka noted, “We will clean up the glass, sweep away the ashes and keep doing our part to bring a better day out of this hour of darkness and despair.”

“Our work and dedication to the prosperity and freedom for all working families will continue.”

Fraternally,

SMART leaders urge full initiation of Defense Production Act

The Defense Production Act (DPA) was invoked April 2 by President Donald Trump to expedite the manufacture and eventual distribution of supplies, especially ventilators, necessary to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first step in getting the products — including surgical masks, disinfecting agents and medical devices — to those who need them is to create and package them.

Right now. Sheet metal workers across the United States are fabricating new equipment and supplies to support our nation’s response to this pandemic. Volunteers have even stepped up to supply groups with vital parts in the production of new protective gear while union sheet metal workers from New York to Detroit and Wisconsin and everywhere in between are on the front lines constructing new medical facilities to handle the surge of new COVID-19 patients.

While members are busy producing supplies as fast as they can, these supplies also need to be transported to the places that are most in need.

This is where the United States freight railroad network comes in. The full scope of the DPA must be employed to strongly and decisively react in the quickest way possible, including the engagement of railroads’ nationwide reach. The greatest volume of goods and material needed to help the country recover in the least amount of time will be delivered by the men and women operating the trains that travel America’s railroad network.

Thousands of rail workers have been furloughed by the country’s largest rail carriers in recent years. These people must be put to work to deliver life-saving equipment to major metropolitan areas struggling to contend with the coronavirus. Any half-measure will result in more lives being lost.

Sheet metal and transportation workers stand at the ready to assist. All that is needed is full invocation of the DPA and a wave of labor will help to first fight the pandemic and then to wipe out the economic devastation it has created.

Sincerely,

Joseph Sellers, Jr. Jeremy R. Ferguson
General President, SMART President, SMART Transportation Division

NOTICE: SMART-TD locals may cancel meetings for March and April 2020

March 17, 2020

In line with White House recommendations that gatherings of more than 10 people be avoided to counter the transmission of the COVID-19 virus, SMART Transportation Division Locals are advised they may cancel monthly meetings in March and April 2020.

During this period only, officers and members seeking membership approval of expense submissions will be able to utilize a relaxed version of a procedure that was previously available only to Local Chairpersons.

In addition, a form is being made available for use by those seeking expense reimbursement. Any officer or member abusing the form and/or submitting fraudulent claims may be subject to removal from office, reprimand, penalties and fines in accordance with the SMART Constitution.

Questions regarding this procedure should be directed to the office of the Transportation Division President.

Breaking: Construction Industry Exempted From IRAPs

Brothers and sisters,

Our collective actions in support of exempting the construction industry from Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs) made a difference.

In 2017, the Trump Administration issued Executive Order No. 13801 seeking to establish a Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion to increase opportunities in industries outside of the construction sector. At the time of the announcement, the training programs affiliated with the North American Building Trades Unions were recognized as the standard to meet.

The concept of Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs) was introduced to the Task Force, which was unanimously recommended to exclude the military and construction industry.  Initially, the Trump Administration appeared to support the integrity of registered apprenticeships and not undermine the successful unionized construction industry programs.  IRAP’s would have had a disastrous effect on current registered apprenticeship programs and their long-standing infrastructure to provide a skilled, safe and dependable workforce.  The unregulated and low road competitors would also affect industry standards, quality, working conditions and compensation.

It was initially designed as a boost to expand the registered apprenticeship framework in industries that need to prepare occupation related curriculum, classroom and on the job training.  The Administration reversed course and moved away from the committee report and their original commitment to the construction industry.

When the Department of Labor requested public comment, our industry answered the call and your voices were heard. Thanks to your input, joined with the collective power of over 350,000 of your fellow building tradespersons and allies, we were able to prevail. Because of your advocacy, the final rule issued earlier this week by the US Department of Labor reaffirmed the exemption of the construction industry.

Make no mistake, this success is due to the members who launched an unprecedented grassroots drive.  Your response to the public comment period made an impact and you have been heard.

We joined forces with our industry partners who rely on our expertise and thank them for their support, knowing the integrity of our industry will continue to be protected.

At the same time, please stay tuned, because our adversaries, such as the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) are reaching out to their allies in a bid to sue through Federal courts. A challenge is expected soon.  We will continue to keep you updated if and when this occurs.

Thank you for your commitment to apprenticeship and the union construction industry.

Fraternally,

 

Joseph Sellers, Jr.

SMART General President

National Legislative Director Hynes speaks out in Trains Magazine about railroad issues

SMART-TD National Legislative Director Greg Hynes

In an interview to appear in the April edition of Trains Magazine, SMART-TD National Legislative Director Greg Hynes was interviewed about key issues and industry trends including Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR), two-person crews, autonomous trains and the effect presidential elections have on the railroad industry.

In the interview, Hynes spoke about how PSR is a threat to jobs, the industry and the public because fewer safety inspections are being performed with fewer people and that there is a blatant disregard by Class I management toward fatigued and ill individuals who aren’t being allowed time off.

When asked if autonomous train technology could come to the U.S., Hynes responded:

“Where they have the autonomous trains out in Australia is on a route that doesn’t have any grade crossings, there are no people nearby, and it’s basically out in the middle of nowhere. But if you try to do that in the United States, where you have thousands and thousands of grade crossings, it will be a really bad thing. The people on a train are the first responders in every crossing incident. You won’t have that with an autonomous train.”

Trains closed the interview asking how the 2020 presidential election will impact railroads and unions. Hynes noted that whoever is in the White House determines who runs the FRA.

“If we see a continuation of what we have right now, it will not be good for rail safety or labor. This current administration has not been friendly to labor at all. Rail safety is not their primary function anymore, as we saw in their decision to not implement a national crew-size rule. How is that in the best interest of safety? It’s all about protecting the railroads’ bottom line, but that’s not the FRA’s job.”

To read the full interview, check out the April print issue of Trains Magazine.

As holidays approach, a note from President Ferguson

Dear Brothers & Sisters:

We are approaching the close of another year, and my thoughts grow stronger about each of you during this forthcoming holiday period.

Your daily lifestyles, both personally and professionally, are demanding and sometimes conflictive. Giving them respect and balance can be a challenge.

In that regard, do not compromise the importance of adequate rest. Exercising sound judgment when it comes to rest will minimize the risk of failure when fulfilling your chosen responsibilities as a transportation worker.

I’ve walked in your shoes and understand the lifestyle of being a professional railroader. Fatigue can lead to a loss of situational awareness, and a loss of situational awareness can often lead to tragedy. The holidays are a dangerous time of year for our industry.

In that regard take care of yourself, be safe and do what is right.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

Jeremy R. Ferguson,
President, Transportation Division

Rail union chiefs announce formation of Coordinated Bargaining Coalition

CLEVELAND, Ohio and WASHINGTON, D.C., (November 1, 2019) — Top leaders of 10 rail unions announced today that their organizations will be participating in coordinated bargaining in the round of national negotiations that began on Nov. 1, 2019. The unions comprising the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition are:

  • American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA)
  • Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen / Teamsters Rail Conference (BLET)
  • Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS)
  • International Association of Machinists (IAM)
  • International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB)
  • National Conference of Firemen & Oilers/SEIU (NCFO)
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)
  • Transport Workers Union of America (TWU)
  • Transportation Communications Union / IAM (TCU)
  • Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART TD)
  • The following statement was jointly issued by ATDA President Leo McCann, BLET National President Dennis Pierce, BRS President Jerry Boles, IAM General Vice President – Transportation Sito Pantoja, IBB Director of Railroad Lodge Services John Mansker, IBEW Railroad Department Director Bill Bohne, NCFO President John Thacker, SMART TD President Jeremy Ferguson, TWU Railroad Division Director John Feltz, and TCU National President Bob Scardelletti:

    “We are pleased to announce the creation of the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition as we are on the threshold of the most critical round of national bargaining in a generation. Our Coalition is founded on two key values that we all share. One is that we understand the importance of each Union’s autonomy to pursue membership-specific goals within a framework of broad solidarity to defend and improve the wages, benefits and working conditions of our members. The other is that we will spare no effort to defeat the attack by the railroads on the very foundation of our members’ economic security.”

    Jointly, the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition 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.

SMART TD General Chairpersons resolve to act in solidarity in face of negotiations, lawsuit

SMART Transportation Division officers and attendees of the Association of General Chairpersons — District 1 conference stand together at the conclusion of the meeting on Oct. 3.

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Hours after a lawsuit by rail carriers targeting our union over crew consist was announced Oct. 3, the Association of General Chairpersons — District 1 unanimously resolved to act in solidarity.

The resolution states:

“In response to the Carriers’ attempts to undermine bargaining and divide us, we, the members of District 1, resolve to act in solidarity in every effort to protect our members and our rights under the Railway Labor Act.”

Every general chairperson in attendance signed the resolution as the meeting concluded.

Transportation Division President Jeremy Ferguson praised the leadership of the General Committees for a quick and unified response at the conclusion of the District 1 conference in the Cleveland area that also finalized the Section 6 notices that will trigger the beginning of the next round of National Rail Contract negotiations.

“As we progress forward into this negotiating period and beyond, solidarity among our membership at all levels everywhere will drive us as we overcome the challenges ahead,” Ferguson said. “This unanimous resolution shows at the outset that we stand together and will speak with one loud, clear voice.”

On Oct. 3, the National Railway Labor Conference (NRLC) filed a lawsuit in federal district court in the Northern District of Texas.

President Ferguson stated that this attempt to undermine our collective bargaining agreements was not unexpected.

“It is not the first time that carriers have attempted this tactic,” he said. “We are well prepared to respond.”

TD ready to respond as carriers once again attack crew consist

NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio (October 3, 2019) — Today, the nation’s Class I rail carriers, along with a few other railroads, filed suit in federal district court in the Northern District of Texas in an attempt to undermine our collective bargaining agreements as well as the bargaining process under the Railway Labor Act.

The suit, filed just ahead of the beginning of the next round of national handling scheduled to begin with the Section 6 notice filing November 1, asserts that the carriers’ position that “the existing moratoriums do not bar their crew-consist-related proposals” is a minor dispute subject to arbitration.

As detailed in their complaint, this is not the first time that the rail carriers have attempted an attack on crew consist. SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy Ferguson, noting the carriers’ history of unsuccessful attacks on crew consist, stated, “this latest attempt is nothing new, and it will once again be met with a vigorous defense.”

The suit, denoted as BNSF Railway et al, v, Internat’l Assn. of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers—Transportation Division, has not yet been served on the SMART Transportation Division.

This article will be updated.

Reminder: Section 6 proposals due by Sept. 30

ATTENTION: All SMART Transportation Division members employed by rail carriers negotiating under the umbrella of the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC).

As you are likely aware, on August 16, 2019, the SMART Transportation Division began the process of formulating Section 6 notices to be served on rail carriers represented by the NCCC, which will include proposals to increase wages, benefits and improve working conditions. In our communications, all officers and members were invited to submit proposals for the Section 6 notices to the SMART TD headquarters.

For those members who have already submitted proposals, we thank you for providing your invaluable input.

Members who have not yet responded are reminded that proposals are being cataloged through the month of September, and in October a committee of general chairpersons from the Association of General Chairpersons, District No. 1, will review the proposals and begin to fine-tune those suggestions into the notices to be served on the carriers.

In order for your proposal to be cataloged and considered by the Section 6 review committee, your proposal must be received in the Transportation Division office by September 30, 2019.

As a reminder, members may submit their proposals by email (preferred), fax or U.S. Mail:

Email – Section6@smart-union.org
Fax – (216) 228-5755,

or by writing to the attention of the SMART Transportation Division President at

24950 Country Club Blvd. Suite 340
North Olmsted OH 44070

Following this review process, the full Association of General Chairpersons, District No. 1, will be convened to review and finalize the union’s Section 6 notices. Soon thereafter, the Section 6 notices will be reproduced and mailed to all U.S. general chairpersons for serving on the affected railroads on or about Nov. 1, 2019, with changes to become effective no earlier than Jan. 1, 2020.

In addition to membership submitted proposals, SMART Transportation Division will conduct a membership survey to help define the issues for prioritization during negotiations.

“All affected members will be kept informed regarding the Section 6 notices and developments in negotiations, when possible, through the SMART Transportation Division News and the SMART TD website,” said Transportation Division President John Previsich.

The serving of the Section 6 notices is the first step in reaching a new national agreement with railroads represented by the NCCC. The carriers represented by the NCCC also have been working on their own wage and rule notices that they will serve at or about the same time the SMART-TD notices are served.

Under the Railway Labor Act, the current national agreement between SMART TD and NCCC will remain in effect until a new agreement is reached.