Archive for the ‘Local Corner’ Category

Virginia SLD reminds state voters: Absentee voting has begun!

SMART Transportation Division Virginia State Legislative Director Ronnie Hobbs issued a reminder Oct. 16 that absentee voting in-person or by mail has begun for the state’s Nov. 5 general elections.

Voters can cast absentee ballots in person at their local voting registration office.

Virginia members can visit this link for their absentee in-person location or Virginia members can visit this link to apply online for an absentee ballot.

By voting absentee, Virginia residents can make sure their work schedule or a family emergency does not impact their right to vote. To vote absentee in Virginia, voters must have a reason (code 1D or 1E should work for rail workers and retirees).

“No matter whom you choose, choose to vote early!” Hobbs said.

Texas-area members invited to Houston solidarity rally

Local 1892 invites union members to the fourth-annual Houston Solidarity Rally that is scheduled noon to 8 p.m. Sept. 24 at the SPJST Lounge, 1435 Beall St. in Houston.

The event is open to all and has previously drawn members from 16 locals/divisions/lodges from multiple unions around Texas and the Gulf Coast.

It features BBQ, guest speakers, prize drawings, vendors and informational booths.

“Someone best described it as a ‘mini-regional’ for our area,” said Local 1892 S&T Robert Maldonado.

For more information, visit https://www.railrally.com/

Members invited to big Labor Day marches

All SMART members are invited to participate in annual Labor Day parades.

On Monday, Sept. 2, in Galesburg, Ill., Transportation Division Alternate National Legislative Director-elect Jared Cassity is scheduled to be in attendance to march alongside members of TD Local 195 and all other members who attend the 127th edition of the parade, a tradition that recognizes the sacrifice and contribution that workers have made in building our nation.

“Galesburg holds the title for the second-oldest consecutive Labor Day parade in America,” said Local Chairperson Bryan Roberts (LCA 001E) of TD Local 195. “We will have a photo with everyone before the parade begins and a float available to ride in the parade.”

Roberts said participants should meet between 8 and 9 a.m. at the TD Local 195 union hall in the basement of the Bondi Building, 311 E. Main St., lower level. There is an access door off Kellogg Street as well that leads downstairs to the union hall in addition to the building’s main entrance.

Roberts said there will be a picnic with food and drink provided immediately following the parade at Lake Story, Pavilion 3, 1572 Machens Drive in Galesburg. The pavilion is immediately to the left when turning off Lake Story Road toward the Main Pavilion across from the softball fields, Roberts said. Alcohol is prohibited on site.

All members in Galesburg and the surrounding area are invited to participate.

“We hope to see everyone there,” Roberts said.

In Nebraska, food and fun are on the schedule at the membership feed 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 1, the night before the big parade in Omaha.

Parade T-shirts will also be distributed at the Sheet Metal Workers Hall, 3333 S. 24th St., in Omaha.

Line-up for the parade takes place at 9 a.m. the following day at the northeast corner of 17th and Mike Fahey streets. Attend the feed or contact State Legislative Director Bob Borgeson for more details on participating at smartdirector@cox.net.

And members, if you attend this or any other Labor Day event, please send in your photos to news_td@smart-union.org for consideration in the next edition of the TD News!

Annual workers’ summit scheduled in Nebraska

A workers summit for union members from all over Nebraska is scheduled to take place on Monday, May 6 in North Platte, Nebraska.

Jim “Doc” Moore, a retired associate professor of labor history at Cornell University’s School for Industrial and Labor Relations, will moderate the meetings at 1 and 5 p.m. at the Ramada Inn and Suites, 2102 S. Jeffers St., North Platte, NE 69101.

Among scheduled presenters at the summit, which is open to all union members and their spouses, are Sue Martin, president of the Nebraska AFL-CIO; John Kretzschmar, director of the William Brennan Institute for Labor Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha; and SMART TD Nebraska State Legislative Director Bob Borgeson.

The summit is again being organized by Terry Sigler, a retired legislative representative of SMART TD Local 286 in North Platte who remains active in union matters, especially when it comes to safety. Among topics discussed at the successful inaugural meeting in April 2018 were the state’s two-person crew bills and OSHA funding.

“The purpose of the Workers Summit is to unite all the unions to better inform the membership of the issues that are important for their safety and welfare,” Sigler said.

North Dakota locals to hold informational meetings April 30 – May 2

North Dakota locals will be holding informational meetings for their members on April 30 in Fargo, May 1 in Minot, and May 2 in Bismarck.

These meetings provide an exceptional opportunity to learn about your benefits and visit with union officers and representatives from the Railroad Retirement Board, UTUIA, health care and other insurance plans as well as SMART TD Designated Legal Counsel.

All members, retirees, and spouses/significant others are welcome to attend any of the meetings. There is no registration; just come if you can.

For further information, call State Legislative Director Jim Chase at 701-223-0061 or email utu4nd@gmail.com.

Here is the schedule:

  • Tuesday, April 30, 1 p.m.
    Biltmore on Main Hotel & Suites
    3800 Main Ave., Fargo
    .
  • Wednesday, May 1, 1 p.m.
    Grand Hotel
    1505 N. Broadway Ave., Minot
    6 p.m. Social & 7 p.m. Annual Retirement Banquet
    .
  • Thursday, May 2, 1 p.m.
    Quality Inn
    1030 E. Interstate Ave., Bismarck

Click here to view a pdf of this event.

10th annual SMART Day at the Races to be held in honor of Joe Nigro

Transportation Division Local 367 (Omaha, Neb.) has announced that the 10th annual SMART Day at the Races will be at 3 p.m. on Friday, April 26 at the Fonner Park Racetrack, 700 E. Stolley Park Road, Grand Island, NE 68801.

This year the race will be in honor of the late General President Joe Nigro. Nigro attended this event in 2014 at a time when the SMART merger was still contentious.

“Joe was amazing. He won over everyone attending that day and calmed everyone’s nerves as to the future of the union,” said Vice Local Chairperson Rich Mohr. “We are hoping to present to someone from the international a framed photo from that day in hopes that it will be forwarded to Joe’s family.”

For those who RSVP, free clubhouse seating, programs and food will be available. A free catered barbeque will follow the races at Boarders Inn and Suites, 3333 Ramada Road, Grand Island, NE 68801.

There will be a free shuttle between Fonner Park and the hotel. Boarders Inn and Suites is also offering a discounted member rate and free breakfast. To take advantage, call the hotel at 308-384-5150.

To RSVP for the SMART Day at the Races, email smartraces@gmail.com or call Mohr at 785-409-4540 or Cliff Gordon at 308-530-5766.

“Please come and enjoy a day at the horse races with your SMART union brothers and sisters. There will be food, drinks and a good time will be had by all,” Mohr said.

Click here for a flyer about the event.

LCA Secretary Barela injured; GoFundMe account opened for donations

Barela

Just after midnight on April 11, BNSF Railway LCA Secretary and Local Trustee Carlos Barela sustained life-threatening injuries while switching in the Belen Yard in New Mexico.

Local 1168 Local Chairperson Tanner Griffitt and other local chairpersons have organized a GoFundMe account on Barela’s behalf. The page states that due to the severity of his injuries that Brother Barela may never be able to work or provide for himself or his family again.

Click here to visit the GoFundMe page.

Nevada SLD Doering makes the case for two-person crews

Doering

Nevada State Legislative Director Jason Doering and his BLET counterpart Matthew Parker explain why two-person crews are necessary in an op-ed on the website of The Nevada Independent.

In the article, Doering and Parker refute some of the carriers’ most common arguments as to why two-person crews should not be legislated. They specifically mention a letter in support from Larry Mann, who helped to draft the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1970 and is SMART TD’s rail safety coordinator to the designated legal counsel.

“‘The FRSA has been in existence since 1970, and no court has ever ruled that collective bargaining agreements or any rights under the Railway Labor Act preempted a safety law,’ Mann wrote. … Mann pointed out that Wisconsin enacted two-person crew legislation in 1997 and had the law challenged by four rail carriers. The law was upheld in 1999 by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.”

The Assembly Growth and Infrastructure committee recently voted on April 11 to send Assembly Bill 337, the state’s two-person crew bill, to the Assembly floor and recommended that it be passed as amended.

Click here to read the rest of the article from The Nevada Independent.

Sons of member touted as heroes

The sons of member Byron Watson have been labeled as heroes after saving a 4-year-old girl from drowning while at a birthday party March 24 at the Santa Maria Beach in Santa Cruz, California.

The boys’ mother, Nicole, who was watching over her boys while they were swimming in the ocean, recounted the story.

“I was watching my boys, but I looked away for a second and missed the boys seeing her drown. Rhys – he’s 7 – said ‘I think that girl is drowning’ to Bryce, who is now 11, and Bryce said, ‘No she’s just playing.’ And Rhys said, ‘No, I saw her head go underwater.’ And that’s when Bryce jumped in the water. I saw my-then-10-year-old holding this girl above his head in the water and I saw this man, the girl’s father, running, and he patted her on the back and water started coming out of her mouth.”

Both Byron and Nicole are really proud of the action their boys took.

“I’m very proud of my boys. We try to instill in them the ability to care for others, and that’s what determined the actions that they took. They live that out daily,” Byron said.

“I’m super proud. I’m really proud of them and they’re really proud of each other. I’m really proud that they were able to remain calm — they get that from their father — and save the girl,” Nicole said. “Bryce has a new-found confidence in himself, so that’s really cool.”

The 4-year-old girl (her name has not been released) was expected to make a full recovery thanks to both boys.

Byron reports that both boys learned to swim when they were about 6 months old. Byron is a bus operator for the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District and a member of Santa Cruz Local 23 since 2006.

The Watson family (from left): Byron, Kesia, 7; Bryce, 11; Rhys, 7;  and Nicole. (Picture provided by Nicole Watson.)

SMART TD members help crew Bush funeral train

Two SMART Transportation Division members from Local 524 in Palestine, Texas, were given the privilege by Union Pacific Railroad (UP) to serve their country as conductors on President George H.W. Bush’s funeral train, Thursday, Dec. 6.

The funeral procession consisted of two trains. The lead train, operated by BLET Division 139 locomotive engineer Aaron Braud and SMART TD Local 524 conductor Laymon “Billy” Blanton, consisted of 10 passenger cars and two locomotives and carried dignitaries and part of the Secret Service detail.

Although he didn’t get to interact with any of the family or many of the dignitaries, Blanton said that the crew was in constant contact with the Secret Service, with Service agents pointing out possible problem areas along the route.

The second train, led by UP locomotive No. 4141 — “The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum engine,” was operated by BLET Division 139 locomotive engineer June Nobles and SMART TD Local 524 conductor Randy Kuhaneck, both whom — like the late president — are Navy veterans. This train, consisting of two locomotives and 11 cars, carried members of Bush’s family as well as his casket in car six.

The 2 1/2-hour journey began in Spring, Texas, and traveled 70 miles to President Bush’s final resting place in College Station, Texas, at his presidential library. The funeral train had been in the works since 2009, when federal officials contacted UP and asked, at Bush’s request, if they could provide the funeral train.

“We said, ‘Of course, and also we have this locomotive that we would want to have obviously be a part of it,'” UP spokesperson Tom Lange told CBS News.

This wasn’t the first time that Blanton had served on a special train. He said he’s crewed trains carrying UP executives as well as holiday trains and charity trains in the past.

Blanton said that the experience of doing his job on special trains is always tense, and the funeral train was one of his most stressful experiences on the rails.

“The past four days have been nerve-wracking. That was the most stressful thing I’ve done, bar none,” Blanton said. “You got the face of the company behind you on that deal. The whole nation and world was watching. Nothing could go wrong.”

Despite the stress that came with it, Blanton said he was honored to be part of the crew.

“I was just tickled to be picked. It was such an honor to serve UP, the nation and especially the Bush family,” he said. “Now I’m glad I did it. My family got to be there to see it and to be a part of history along with me.

“It was all quite the spectacle. I saw some things that I thought only ever happens on TV. It was a really neat experience,” he said.

Blanton also said he was proud to represent his union and said that this was a great chance for SMART TD conductors to shine.

“I love being a conductor,” Blanton said. “I could’ve been an engineer years ago, but I love the job of conductor. I like being on the ground and in charge. I’m proud to be a union guy.”

SMART TD is proud to represent you and congratulates you and Kuhaneck on this momentous occasion and a job well done.

Candidates with ties to SMART TD seek local offices in Illinois, Indiana

Come Nov. 7, Macon County, Ill.’s county government could be getting a SMART influx with two candidates with Transportation Division ties seeking office in the Nov. 6 elections.

Lloyd Holman, a member of the SMART TD Alumni Association, is seeking a seat on the Macon County Board in his first run for office.

Lloyd Holman, a SMART TD Alumni Association member, is seeking a seat on the Macon County (Ill.) Board.

“My union experiences have provided me with a wealth of knowledge on contracts, legislation, safety and healthcare,” Holman said. “I have chosen to use that energy, experience and knowledge to help build a stronger community.”

He said he decided to run in November 2017 after receiving requests from Macon County board members and other community leaders.

“Although I have never considered myself a politician, apparently others feel I could make a positive contribution,” Holman said.

As the LCA 453 legislative representative for nearly three decades (1983-2011) and a former Illinois State Legislative Board chairperson for 16 years, Holman has said his experience with UTU/SMART TD helped to lay the groundwork for his run. Holman said the Macon County board chairman even helped to circulate his nominating petitions while Holman was incapacitated briefly during recovery from neck surgery.

“I have had the privilege and honor to work with and around some very dedicated and amazing union brothers,” Holman said. “Being part of the union has provided me with a very diverse education and support, even after my retirement.”

That support has extended to his campaign, where he’s received support from his union brothers and sisters.

“Finances are paramount in getting your name, face and position into the public eye,” Holman said. “My union brothers and sisters have been helpful in that area as well.”

He encourages union brothers and sisters to get informed on the issues that matter to them and get involved by voting and campaigning if possible.

“Remember that voting is a right and a privilege,” he said.

Also running in Macon County, Ill., is April Kostenski, wife of SMART TD member David Kostenski, who is treasurer of Local 768 (Decatur, Ill.).

April Kostenski, the wife of SMART TD Local 768 Treasurer David Kostenski, is running for Macon County, Ill., treasurer.

With three years’ experience as a treasurer for the Macon County Democratic Central Committee, April chose to seek the county government post.

“I knew with my education and background, I could offer our residents a positive change in the treasurer’s office that will promise a better tomorrow for future generations,” she said. “I know that I can do a better job serving my community — I decided I needed to be a small part of the solution.”

The mother of 14-year-old son Dawson and 12-year-old daughter Olivia said the time factor is a big challenge in running the campaign she wants to run.

“Sometimes I just need more hours in a day!” she said.

However, SMART TD has helped by providing support to her campaign.

“The Illinois Legislative Board and Bob Guy particularly, do a great job of keeping us informed,” Kostenski said. “Since I announced my candidacy, being a SMART TD family member has opened doors to the other labor organizations. The support from SMART TD and all organized labor is very humbling.”

Kostenski encourages SMART TD members and their families to get involved, volunteer and know their candidates as the election approaches. State legislative boards are great resources to provide information about candidates and donations to the UTU Political Action Committee helps candidates such as April make their runs for local office, she said.

“Running for public office has been a positive experience,” Kostenski said. “I have had many new experiences, met a lot of great people and learned a lot along the way. Sometimes you don’t know what you are capable of until you try.”

And lastly, members need to show up Nov. 6 or beforehand.

“Every vote counts and makes a difference where you live,” Kostenski said.

Right next door in Indiana, Jessica Bailey is seeking the office of Porter County clerk.

Jessica Bailey, wife of SMART TD Local 1383 Legislative Representative Ryan Bailey, is running for clerk in Porter County, Ind.

The wife of Local 1383 (Gary, Ind.) Legislative Representative Ryan Bailey, Jessica is on the Portage Township school board.

Ryan Bailey is a 14-year railroad veteran who works at Canadian National’s Kirk Yard in Gary and is secretary on the SMART TD Indiana State Legislative Board’s Executive Committee.

Jessica and Ryan live in Valparaiso, Ind., with their two children, Bryce, 17, and Emma, 14.

“Jessica’s race is going to be a battle of shoe leather,” said Indiana State Legislative Director Kenny Edwards. “No donation is too small.”

To donate to her campaign, send contributions to:
Committee to Elect Jessica Bailey
641-1 Old Forge Road
Valparaiso, IN 46385

To read more about candidates with a TD connection and other election news – including our national endorsements – check out the October issue of the SMART Transportation Division News, available online now and coming soon to your doorstep.

Charity bike run organized by Local 60 happens July 28

NEWARK, N.J. — Jennifer “Cookie” Doyle reports that SMART Transportation Local 60 will hold a “Railmen for Children” charity bike run July 28. Registration begins at 10 a.m. and goes until 11 a.m., when motorcycle riders will start the run.

The cost of this event is a donation of $20 per person. The ride begins and ends at the Tramontin Harley-Davidson, 482 Hope Blairstown Road, Hope, NJ 07844. Riders will be fully escorted by the Blue Knights NJ8. Food and a live band will be provided after the ride concludes.

All members and locals of SMART are welcome to attend. All signups will be done the day of the event. For questions, contact Doyle at 973-219-2968.

Event T-shirts are available in red, blue, orange and tan for $15 each. See James Tufano or Richie Fryer in Hoboken or email rfcrm16@gmail.com and include your name address size and color.

Established by New Jersey Transit conductors and engineers, Railmen for Children brings joy and laughter to more than 300 special needs children each year via the “Santa Claus Express.”
All proceeds from the bike run goes to support the Santa Claus Express.