Archive for the ‘Leadership’ 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

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

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.

New officers chosen at Second TD Convention

SMART Transportation Division President-elect Jeremy R. Ferguson addresses the Second SMART TD Convention on Sunday, Aug. 11, in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS – SMART GEC Member and Transportation Division (TD) Vice President Jeremy R. Ferguson of Local 313 (Grand Rapids, Mich.) was elected President – Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, shortly after the opening August 11th of the union’s Second Transportation Division Convention at the Mirage Resort in Las Vegas.

Ferguson was challenged for the office by fellow TD Vice President John England (Local 1674, Los Angeles, Calif.) and Robert “Bob” Keeley, former general chairperson of GCA 342 (CSX – Northern District) out of Local 1951 (Albany, N.Y.). Ferguson received 380 votes of the 440 ballots cast.

“Get ready to go to work … It’s going to take the upmost dedication and determination, but we will fight the injustices to the end,” Ferguson said. “We will stand shoulder-to-shoulder, and I will lead from the front. Your voices will be heard, and you will hear my voice.

“General chairpersons, state directors – you deserve more from us, and we will deliver.”

Alternate National Legislative Director Gregory Hynes (Local 1081, Phoenix, Ariz.) was elected National Legislative Director, defeating Utah State Legislative Director F. Jay Seegmiller (Local 166, Salt Lake City, Utah) in a 255-to-185 vote. Hynes will succeed John J. Risch III, who previously announced he would not seek re-election.

SMART TD National Legislative Director-elect Gregory Hynes addresses delegates Aug. 11 at the Second SMART TD Convention in Las Vegas.

Incumbent TD Vice Presidents Brent Leonard (Local 202, Denver, Colo.), Calvin Studivant (Local 759, Newark, N.J.) and John D. Whitaker III (Local 1106, Rocky Mount, N.C.) were returned to office by acclamation.

Also elected TD Vice President by acclamation were Alternate TD Vice President Chadrick Adams (Local 331, Temple, Texas), Executive Board Member and GCA 049 General Chairperson Jamie Modesitt and Joe M. Lopez, general chairperson of GCA 009 (BNSF).

Additionally, General Chairperson D.B. Wier, Jr., (GCA 919, Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis) of Local 469 was elected TD vice president, defeating General Chairperson Tom Pate (GCA 20, BNSF), president of Local 1081 in Glendale, Ariz., and General Chairperson Billy Moye (GCA CSX-SCL) of Local 1971 in Atlanta, Ga.

Meanwhile, Alternate Vice President Bus – East Alvy Hughes (Local 1596. Charlotte, N.C.) defeated Bonnie Morr (Local 23, Santa Cruz, Calif.) and incumbent Vice President Bus Adhi Reddy (Local 1785, Santa Monica, Calif.) for TD Vice President Bus.

Article 21B, Section 35, of the SMART Constitution provides for a successor to the president of the Transportation Division in the event a vacancy occurs between conventions. To provide for such a contingency, delegates chose TD Vice President-elect Leonard to that position.

Kentucky State Legislative Director Jared Cassity was elected Alternate National Legislative Director. Waverly Harris, TD Alternate Vice President Bus – East, was elected to that position by acclamation.

Alternate Vice President Bus – West Guillermo Rosales was returned to that office, defeating Erskins Robinson, general chairperson of GCA SMB, out of Local 1785.

Among five candidates for four TD alternate vice president positions, Scott Chelette, Gary Crest, Larry Miller Jr. and Christopher Bartz were elected.

SMART TD Board of Appeals members elected by acclamation are Tim Flynn (engine services), Tessa Collins (road service), Rick Pauli (commuter), and Brenda Moore (bus).

Incumbent Kevin Smith won an election and will return as the Board of Appeals yard representative.

Elected to the TD Executive Board by acclamation were California Assistant State Legislative Director Mike Anderson, Dale Gerkin, John Dunn, Rex Allen and New York State Legislative Director Sam Nasca.

Ohio State Legislative Director Stu Gardner was elected Alternate to the Executive Board by acclamation.

The newly elected officers assume their roles officially on Oct. 1.

SMART TD Regional Meeting: President Previsich says FRA action will not go unchallenged

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — In closing remarks to the SMART Transportation Division Regional Meeting July 3, TD President John Previsich said that recent actions of government agencies under the umbrella of the federal Department of Transportation will not go unchallenged.

Actions by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regarding safety issues have shown that those agencies have stepped away from their duties of overseeing the safety of communities and of the nation’s transportation workers, he said.

SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich addresses the closing session of the San Diego Regional Meeting at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel on July 3.

The FRA’s withdrawal of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in May plus a similar action within days by the FMCSA that withdrew a notice regarding bus operator safety is a starting point to what will be a challenging period for our union, Previsich said.

All options, including litigation, are being explored to challenge what Previsich had described in testimony before a U.S. House Subcommittee as FRA’s abdication of its safety oversight responsibilities by withdrawing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding minimum crew size. Attorneys general from every state that have implemented legislation requiring two-person freight crews are being invited to join with labor to protect the state laws.

The effort will address FRA’s abuse of authority by withdrawing the NPR, ignoring the comments that were overwhelmingly in favor of a two-person crew rule and the agency’s attempt to pre-empt state laws. It will be a “concerted” effort with other labor organizations.

Previsich said that the union is planning on a multi-faceted approach to take on FRA while also challenging Congress to pursue legislation to correct FRA’s refusal to oversee safety on the nation’s railroads.

Attendees at the July 3 closing session of the San Diego Regional Meeting listen to TD President John Previsich’s remarks at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel.

State legislative action surrounding two-person rail crews also will be ongoing, he said, and more details of our efforts as well as additional actions for members to take will be communicated in the near future.

“There is going to be a big push coming,” Previsich said. “We are going to reach out to you when the proper time comes and ask for your assistance. I think your members will be proud of their union and where we’re going with this.”

To do something immediately, members should take the time to watch the video of the House subcommittee hearing. There they will see who supports our efforts, and what opponents are saying.

All brothers and sisters should then contact their legislators directly to explain our issues to their U.S. House and Senate representatives, and why the current bills regarding transportation safety are important. An in-person visit, an option advocated by National Legislative Director John Risch during the Regional Meeting’s opening session, helps to personalize and drive these issues home no matter what political party the public official identifies with.

The TD Legislative Action Center is a one-stop repository that has information on federal bills advocating bus and transit operator safety, freight rail crew size and yardmaster safety.

Our brothers and sisters also should donate to the SMART TD PAC.

“There’s nothing more important in this environment today — in this political climate that we’re in — that we get access, and we get access through PAC,” Previsich said.

On the second day of the meeting, SMART General President Joseph Sellers, Jr. addressed the new leaders in attendance and encouraged them to take advantage of all resources available to them in both the Washington, D.C., and in the Cleveland offices.

The TD Regional Meeting theme — “Your Union Leading the Way” — was particularly appropriate this year — members “need to understand that ‘Your union’ is our union … 200,000 members are part of our union,” Sellers said. “And ‘leading the way’ means you leading the way, meaning us leading the way meaning leaders and members leading the way.”

In a time of upheaval in the industries that SMART members are employed in, efforts to grow the organization will continue to be a priority, and officers will take an important role in those efforts.

“We must continue to grow. We must organize, organize, organize — internal organizing, external organizing, making sure every worker is a SMART member,” Sellers said.

SMART General President Joseph Sellers, Jr., delivers opening remarks on Tuesday, July 2, the second day of the SMART Transportation Division Regional Meeting in San Diego, Calif.

From all levels of the union, it is up to everyone to take responsibility for the safety of themselves and build and maintain a strong foundation and maintain a powerful and nimble network that can take collective action to protect ourselves and the legacy our union represents, Sellers said.

“I want to make sure that we continue to build that foundation, that we continue to form this union so that future generations will have the same opportunity, enjoy that same representation, enjoy the same benefits of a collective bargaining agreement and enjoy a retirement particularly at a time when many people won’t have a retirement or work pension.”

Support from the SMART Army has brought results — members’ efforts beat back Right to Work For Less legislation in Washington one day after a call for mobilization at the state’s Capitol, and helped to get two-person crew legislation passed in Colorado and Nevada this year. They’ve also mobilized to defend proposed pension changes in Congress.

“As we build that, we will do better,” he said.

To join, text SMART Army to 21333.

In closing the meeting, Previsich announced that the 2020 TD Regional Meeting will be held in its home base of Cleveland, Ohio, at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown from Aug. 24 to 26.

The three-day San Diego meeting at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel featured more than 30 educational workshops intended to assist officers and strengthen our union at every level.

Happy Canada Day

Brothers and sisters,

On July 1st we celebrate Canada Day! The anniversary of the effective date of the Constitution Act of 1867 (then called the British North America Act.) Throughout history, Canada has been a nation that the rest of the world looks up to. Building one of the strongest middle classes in the world where the promise of succeeding through hard work and determination continues to exist.

We should take the time to pause and feel the pride that every member should have from the strength of unity our members displayed this past year in the Province of Ontario and across Canada. Together, showing the entire Labour Movement what solidarity truly means.

As we continue to enjoy the extended holiday weekend, lets also remember the generations that have built SMART and laid the foundation for each of us to enjoy.

The unity and solidarity which formed the bond and the middle class is strong today. It was also displayed by our members on the picket line and the support that came in many forms across North America. That resiliency and willingness to come together to face down a challenge is the catalyst that makes things better for each generation as we leave our industry and nations in a better place.

On behalf of myself, the SMART General Executive Council, and your brothers and sisters, Happy Canada Day!

 

Fraternally,

Joseph Sellers, Jr

SMART General President

President Previsich testifies before House subcommittee

    SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich testifies Thursday afternoon before the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.

SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich appeared before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials to testify on the state of the railroad workforce.

Rather than use his prepared written testimony, he delivered a statement in response to the testimony given earlier in the hearing by Federal Railroad Administration Administrator Ron Batory. In his statement, President Previsich told the representatives about issues crucial to the rail labor workforce, including what he described as FRA’s “abdication” of its safety oversight duties in the wake of its withdrawal last month of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding a minimum train crew size.

He also addressed questions posed by subcommittee members on subjects including Congress’s role in helping to ensure a safe working environment for rail workers, the national Safe Freight Act two-person crew legislation and the role of technology, including automation, and its effects on the rail labor workforce.

A video of President Previsich’s testimony and responses is embedded below.

Video of the full hearing containing President Previsich’s testimony as well as that of other railroad labor leadership in attendance is available here on YouTube.