Terri Poole Taylor Kerns, 52, of Local 1971 (Atlanta, Ga.) lost her life to COVID-19 on Friday, September 10. Diagnosed with COVID-19 on August 24, she was hospitalized Sunday, August 29 with severe chest pains. After suffering from cardiac arrest, she passed in the early hours of Sept. 10.
Graduating from high school in 1987, Kerns worked in the food industry before deciding on a career change. She hired out with Norfolk Southern, where she would work for 20 years, earning her engineer and conductor certifications and working her way up to the position of yardmaster.
In her free time Kerns enjoyed family vacations on the beach. Her true passion was spending time with her husband, children and grandchildren.
“Terri had a great love for her family. Family was everything to Terri, and she left an indescribable imprint on all of us,” her younger sister Joy Poole said.
She’s survived by her husband of 21 years, Paul Henry Kerns Jr. aka PJ; four children, Drew (Sadina) Kerns, Shadonna Kerns, Madison Kerns and Dominique Kerns; two grandsons, Ameer and Zelmeer Kerns; two sisters, Rhonda (James) Poole Farley and Joy (Greg Cowan) Poole; and many in-laws, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins. Kerns is preceded in death by her parents, Oddis Theodore Poole Jr. and Patsy Mitchell Arey; grandparents; mother-in-law, Bonnie Jo Kerns; niece, Mariah Turner; nephew, Andrew Sifford; and great nephew, Xander Tucker.
SMART-TD offers their sincere condolences to all who knew and worked with Kerns, as well as her friends and family.
Local 313 (Grand Rapids, Mich.) member Chris Larson, a member of our union for seven years, wrote to the office of SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson asking the extent that members can go to support and show solidarity to an ongoing labor action by another labor union against an employer.
More than 1,000 members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) union have been striking for more than a month in locations in Portland, Ore.; Richmond, Va.; Norcross, Ga., and Chicago against Nabisco/Mondelez. Brother Larson suggested in a letter that unionized train operators stop deliveries to the company’s plants in a concerted effort in support of the strikes.
“Nabisco / Mondelz (sic) International will quickly notice when their raw inputs of flour, sugar, and other bulk commodities delivered by rail are no longer being delivered because SMART-TD is supporting the BCTGM strike,” Larson wrote. “I would like to encourage SMART-TD to quickly explore how our union can honor the BCTGM strike by not delivering raw inputs to Nabisco / Mondelz (sic) International by rail.”
While a strong and impactful suggestion by Larson, the federal Railway Labor Act limits when, where and why rail workers can engage in a work stoppage, as the union’s response noted.
“…it is important to note that the governing federal law (specifically the Railway Labor Act, as amended,) limits our ability to go on strike to very narrow and specific circumstances. Unfortunately, those circumstances do not include the secondary strike action you describe in your letter,” the TD office replied.
“We absolutely support the BCTGM workers in their fight for fairness and justice with Nabisco/Mondelez,” Ferguson said. “Our members and leadership will do what we can within the law through personal boycotts and outreach initiated by local members to show support from our union. We thank Brother Larson for speaking up and asking this question, and we appreciate his desire to act in solidarity with our fellow workers at BCTGM.”
Constitutionally, members can act in the interest of their personal safety in areas where a strike is taking place. According to Article 21B, Section 92 of the SMART Constitution:
When a strike of any other nationally recognized labor organization is in effect and danger to the safety of our members exists in or about the area affected by the strike, and/or if there exists any substantial present or potential threat of danger to the members enroute to or from their work, and/or to the members’ families, it is the policy of SMART to support its members in declining to enter the territory directly affected.
The strikes against Nabisco/Mondelez first began in August with BCTGM workers in Portland, then spread to the three additional locations during the month to protest the company’s outsourcing of U.S. jobs to plants in Mexico and the disproportionate hazard pay given to management when workers received only a $300 bonus.
Join one of the picket lines to give supplies or offer support at the following sites:
• Portland, Ore.: 100 N.E. Columbia Blvd.
• Aurora, Colo.: 17775 E. 30th Ave.
• Chicago, Ill.: 7300 Kedzie Ave.
• Norcross, Ga.: 6300 Brook Hollow Pkwy.
• Richmond, Va.: 6002 S. Laburnum Ave.
Railroad Retirement benefits are based on months of service and earnings credits. Earnings are creditable, up to certain annual maximums, on the amount of compensation subject to Railroad Retirement taxes.
Credit for a month of railroad service is earned for every month in which an employee had some compensated service covered by the Railroad Retirement Act. (Local lodge compensation is disregarded for any calendar month in which it is less than $25. However, work by a local lodge or division secretary collecting insurance premiums, regardless of the amount of salary, is creditable railroad work.) Also, under certain circumstances, additional service months may be deemed in some cases where an employee does not actually work in every month of the year.
The following questions and answers describe the conditions under which an employee may receive additional Railroad Retirement service month credits under the deeming provisions of the Railroad Retirement Act.
1. What requirements must be met before additional service months can be deemed?
A service month can be deemed if an employee has less than 12 service months reported in the year, has sufficient compensation reported and is in an “employment relation” with a covered railroad employer, or is an employee representative, during that month. (An employee representative is a labor official of a non-covered labor organization who represents employees covered under the acts administered by the Railroad Retirement Board.)
For this purpose, an “employment relation” generally exists for an employee on an approved leave of absence (for example, furlough, sick leave, suspension, etc.). An “employment relation” is severed by retirement, resignation, relinquishing job rights in order to receive a separation allowance or termination.
2. How is credit for additional service months computed?
For additional service months to be deemed, the employee’s compensation for the year, up to the annual Tier II maximum, must exceed an amount equal to 1/12 of the Tier II maximum multiplied by the number of service months actually worked. The excess amount is then divided by 1/12 of the Tier II maximum; the result, rounded up to the next whole number, equals the maximum number of months that may be deemed as service months for that year. Fewer months may be deemed, if an employment relation, as defined in Question 1, does not exist.
3. An employee works seven months in 2021 before being furloughed, but earns compensation of $108,000. How many deemed service months could be credited to the employee?
The employee could be credited with five additional service months. One-twelfth of the 2021 $106,200 Tier II maximum ($8,850) times the employee’s actual service months (seven) equals $61,950. The employee’s compensation in excess of $61,950 up to the $106,200 maximum is $44,250, which divided by $8,850 equals five. Therefore, five deemed service months could be added to the seven months actually worked and the employee would receive credit for 12 service months in 2021.
4. Another employee works for seven months in 2021 and earns compensation of $85,200. How many deemed service months could be credited to this employee?
In this case, the excess amount ($85,200 minus $61,950) is $23,250, which divided by $8,850 equals 2.627. After rounding, this employee could receive credit for three deemed service months and be credited with a total of 10 months of service in 2021.
5. Another employee works for eight months in 2021 before resigning on August 15, but earns compensation of $91,000. How many deemed service months could be credited to this employee?
None. Since the employee resigned in August, there is no employment relationship for the remaining months and no additional service months may be deemed and credited.
6. Should an employee preparing to retire take deemed service months into account when designating the date his or her Railroad Retirement annuity begins?
An employee may wish to consider credit for deemed service months in selecting an annuity beginning date. For instance, in some cases, a designated annuity beginning date that considers deemed service months could be used to establish basic eligibility for certain benefits, increase an annuity’s Tier II amount, or establish a current connection, as illustrated in Questions 7, 8 and 9, respectively. It should be noted that service months cannot be deemed after the annuity beginning date.
7. What would be an example of using deemed service months to establish benefit eligibility?
An example would be an employee between the ages of 60 and 62 who might be able to use deemed service months to establish the 360 months of service needed to qualify for an unreduced age annuity prior to full retirement age.
For instance, a 60-year-old employee last performed service on May 15, 2021, and received $61,800 in compensation in 2021. She is credited with 358 months of creditable railroad service through May 2021. If the employee wishes to retire on age, she must wait until she is full retirement age, which ranges between 66 and 67 depending upon the employee’s year of birth, or age 62 if she is willing to accept an age-reduced annuity. She needs at least two additional months of service to establish eligibility for an unreduced annuity prior to full retirement age.
The employee’s excess amount ($61,800 minus $44,250) is $17,550, which divided by $8,850 equals 1.983. Therefore, two deemed service months could be added to the five months actually worked and the employee would receive credit for seven service months in 2021 for a total of 360 service months, allowing her to receive an unreduced annuity beginning July 2, 2021.
8. How could deemed service months be used to increase an employee’s Tier II amount?
An employee worked in the first five months of 2021 and received compensation of $59,500. He does not relinquish his rights until July 2, 2021, and applies for an annuity to begin on that date.
The excess amount ($59,500 minus $44,250) is $15,250, which divided by $8,850 equals 1.723, which yields two deemed service months for a total of seven service months in 2021. Had the employee relinquished his rights and applied for an annuity to begin on July 1, he would have been given credit for only six service months.
The employee received the maximum compensation in all of the last five years and had 360 months of service through 2020. The additional service and compensation increases his Tier II from $1,726.75 to $1,746.92. However, delaying the annuity beginning date past the second day of the month after the date last worked solely to increase the Tier II amount would not generally be to the employee’s advantage.
9. Can deemed service months help an employee establish a current connection?
Yes. For example, an employee left the railroad industry in 2002 and engaged in employment covered by the Social Security Act. In August 2020, she returned to railroad employment and worked through June 28, 2021. She received compensation of $53,650 in 2021. She does not relinquish her rights until July 2, 2021, and applies for an annuity to begin on July 2, 2021.
In this case, the excess amount ($53,650 minus $53,100) is $550, which divided by $8,850 equals 0.0621, which yields one deemed service month. Consequently, the employee is given credit for seven service months in 2021. With five months of service in 2020 and seven months in 2021, the employee establishes a current connection. Had she designated the earliest annuity beginning date permitted by law, she would not have met the 12-in-30-month requirement for a current connection. (An employee who worked for a railroad in at least 12 months in the 30 months immediately preceding the month his or her Railroad Retirement annuity begins will meet the current connection requirement for a supplemental annuity, occupational disability annuity or survivor benefits.)
10. Can an employee ever receive credit for more than 12 service months in any calendar year?
No. Twelve service months are the maximum that can be credited for any calendar year.
11. Where can an employee get more information on how deemed service months could affect his or her annuity?
Employees with questions about deemed service months can send a secure message to their local RRB office by accessing Field Office Locator at RRB.gov and clicking on the link at the bottom of their local office’s page. If a customer needs to talk to an RRB employee, they can call the agency’s toll-free number (1-877-772-5772). However, customers are asked to be patient because of the increase in call volume due to the closure to the public of RRB offices during the COVID-19 pandemic.
New Jersey State Legislative Director Ron Sabol met with federal Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in Westfield, N.J., an encounter that was later featured in a video produced by the DOT and then shared on Buttigieg’s official Twitter account in conjunction with Labor Day on Sept. 6.
Sabol, of Local 1447 (Newark, N.J.), met Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., on Aug. 9 and discussed his career as a freight rail conductor, remote-control operator and as a SMART-TD union officer.
“I got involved in my union right away, and that’s because of safety,” Sabol told Buttigieg. “Railroading is the most dangerous job in the country.”
A member of the SMART-TD National Safety Team, N.J. SLD since December 2016, and also his local’s president, Sabol reminded the Transportation Secretary of something that sometimes is lost among the public.
“Our railroads and bus operators, which we represent as well, they’re first responders,” he said.
Sabol recalled the efforts made by TD members to help evacuate people in tunnels during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City.
Sabol also said that the passage of infrastructure legislation will improve with an expansion of service, better accessibility to riders and improved safety for a number of TD members.
“The best part of my job is being able to help people,” Sabol said. “As you the mayor were able to help all those people, I do it at a different level with a different group of people.”
Buttigieg’s Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration will be increasingly important as regulatory efforts develop to make the Rule of 2 — a certified conductor and certified engineer — enforced on freight trains throughout the United States.
The Biden administration announced earlier in the year that FRA is revisiting the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding freight train crew size and would be prioritized at some point in the autumn.
Great challenges are best faced together, and we have encountered many these past few months from those caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to carrier practices that place profits before safety, jeopardizing safe operations that affect the general public and our members.
This year on Labor Day, unity and solidarity is at the forefront of my mind as I am proud to have faced all of these adversities together as fraternal brothers and sisters. We are each other’s keepers.
I think about the “old heads” who take the time to teach the new hires the tricks of the trade and the traps to avoid the knowledge of which takes years of experience to acquire. Or the general or local chairperson who stands up for the member who has been unjustly charged; or just the friendly face of a union brother or sister offering a smile or a helping hand at just the right time when things are not going well.
These traits are summarized well in the overarching “I Got Your Back” campaign SMART has launched.
Members of the Transportation Division protect and support one another, consciously and unconsciously, all the time and on a daily basis. A little recognition of this goes a long way, making “I Got Your Back” a solid way to recognize and show support for those whose contributions sometimes are not given the appreciation or attention that’s so richly deserved.
In the July/August newspaper that is en route to you, General President Joseph Sellers Jr. encourages members to honor a mentor by taking a photo with a person who has served as an inspiration or a protector. If you email that along with a few words about the importance of that TD brother or sister in your career to firstname.lastname@example.org, that person can be recognized.
Truly, the strength of a union does not just come from the elected leaders. At its core, the power of a union comes from the membership and then travels to the leadership. There are only a handful of officers, yet thousands of members. The thousands, when united and energized, can do much more than what a single person can. That’s the power of a collective group. That’s the power of labor. That’s the power of a union!
Labor Day is about YOU. SMART-TD is about YOU. It will take all of us working together to overcome these obstacles we face now and those we will face in the future. However, I fear not as I have your back, and I know you have mine. Together we will face anything that comes our way … united. I am proud to serve alongside each and every one of you.
I do, however, want to take a moment and remember the fallen this Labor Day. We have lost way too many members, brothers and sisters, this past year who were unfortunately killed while performing their duties. Safety is our number one priority and as we work harder than ever toward changing the current culture, we must never lose sight of its importance. We must never forget the fact that our predecessor unions were founded on safety and we, as proud unified labor, will carry on in those same fights now more than ever.
Many of you will be working this Labor Day, and we thank you for your dedication while doing so. I will be out there proudly marching in one of the oldest Labor Day parades in the U.S., shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters of Local 195 in Galesburg, Ill. I look forward to meeting them as I have already met many of you during my recent travels. It is my goal to try attend as many events as possible in efforts to get to know as many of my fellow fraternal brothers and sisters as possible.
May God bless you and keep you safe.
Jeremy R. Ferguson
President, Transportation Division
The SMART Transportation Division is primed to assist members in their time of need when disaster strikes.
Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana and Mississippi on Aug. 29 and tore a path through an area stretching from the Gulf Coast to the New York-New Jersey region, dropping torrential rain and affecting members’ lives with its massive flooding and wind damage.
Our members in the impacted area, both active and retired, face a long recovery and the painful task of rebuilding their homes and carrying on with their lives.
Furthermore, not only are they coping with the aftermath of a storm, they are doing so against the backdrop of the continuing COVID pandemic.
We are asking the SMART-TD family to heed the call and give what you can so that the difficult task of starting over and rebuilding can begin for any TD members who have been affected by Ida.
Any donations will help lessen the struggle and bring real hope and relief to our members who are suffering after this great loss. SMART-TD will administer donations sent to the SMART-TD Disaster Relief Fund.
Contributions may be sent and made payable to:
SMART-TD Disaster Relief Fund
24950 Country Club Blvd.
North Olmsted, OH 44070-5333
TD Members who have suffered damage or loss due to this storm can contact the SMART-TD office for an application for assistance by calling 216-227-5237.
The Pullman neighborhood in Chicago will be abuzz on Labor Day weekend 2021 for the grand opening of the Pullman National Monument Visitor Center and Pullman State Historic Site Factory Grounds. Pullman has been preparing for this moment for decades, and in earnest since President Barack Obama designated the Pullman National Monument in February 2015.
The public is welcome for a weekend of family friendly events on Saturday, Sept. 4, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 5, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., including:
tours of the new visitor center (free)
tours of the first floor of historic Hotel Florence (free)
programs under the tent at the factory site (free)
walking tours and self-guided tours of the historic community (free)
tours of historic Pullman-built rail cars, sponsored by Amtrak, Metra and the American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners
The Pullman National Monument and State Historic site is at 11001 S. Cottage Grove Ave., Chicago, IL 60628, the site of the former Pullman company town. The town was the vision of George M. Pullman, who founded it May 26, 1880. Pullman hoped that by building the town, he would attract skilled workers to build his luxury rail cars – known as the Pullman Sleeping Car, they were the first railcars in existence designed to accommodate overnight travelers.
Guests of the Pullman historic sites will find an exhibit chronicling the rise of the town and its role in labor history and the 1894 Pullman strike endorsed by labor leader Eugene Debs, a former secretary of one of SMART-TD’s predecessor unions, as well as the struggles of the black Pullman porters who formed the nation’s first black labor union – the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.
The events this weekend are being managed by the Historic Pullman Foundation, which is led by former Federal Railroad Administration Administrator and retired UTU Illinois State Legislative Director Joseph C. Szabo, the president of the foundation.
“Historic Pullman Foundation is thrilled to help welcome the public to Pullman National Monument and Pullman State Historic Site, an incredible new cultural attraction in Chicago,” said Szabo. “On Labor Day weekend and through ongoing programming and exhibits at the Monument and its partner sites, visitors to Pullman have many opportunities to learn about the continuing American story that is Pullman.”
Net Earnings: Increased 34% to $1.52 billion from $1.13 billion Earnings Per Share: n/a – not publicly traded Revenue:Increased 26% to $5.81 billion from $4.60 billion Operating Income:Increased 28% to $2.22 billion from $1.73 billion Operating Expenses: Increased 25% to $3.6 billion from $2.9 billion Operating Ratio: Improved 0.7% to 60.4% from 61.1%
Net Earnings: Increased 90% to C$1.034 million from C$545 million Diluted Earnings Per Share: Increased 90% to C1.46 from C$0.77 Revenue: Increased 12% to C$3.598 million from C$3.209 million Operating Income: Increased 76% to C$1.382 million from C$785 million Operating Expenses: Decreased 9% to C$2.216 million from C$2.424 million Operating Ratio: Improved 13.9 points to 61.6% from 75.5%
Net Earnings: Increased 96% to C$1.25 billion from C$635 million Diluted Earnings Per Share: Increased 100% to a record $1.86 per share from $0.93 per share Revenue: Increased 15% to a record C$2.05 billion from C$1.79 billion Operating Income: Increased 6% to C$820 million from C$770 million Operating Expenses: Increased 21% to C$1.23 billion from C$1.02 billion Operating Ratio: Improved 170 basis points to a record 55.3% from 57%
Net Earnings: Increased 135% to $1.17 billion from $499 million Earnings Per Share: Increased 136% to $0.52 per share from $0.22 per share Revenue: Increased 33% to $2.99 billion from $2.26 billion Operating Income: Increased 104% to $1.70 billion from $828 million Operating Expenses: Decreased 9% to $1.30 billion from $1.43 billion Operating Ratio: Improved to 43.4% from 63.3%
Net Earnings: Reported a loss of ($378.0 million) from $110.3 million* Diluted Earnings Per Share: Increased 79% to $2.06 per share from $1.16 per share Revenue: Increased 37% to $749.5 million from $547.9 million Operating Income: Reported a loss of ($431.7 million) from $180.4 million* Operating Expenses: Increased to $460.4 million from $357.0 million Operating Ratio: Improved 3.8 basis points to 61.4% from 65.2%
Net Earnings: Increased 109% to a second-quarter record of $819 million from $392 million Diluted Earnings Per Share: Increased 114% to a second-quarter record of $3.28 per share from $1.53 per share Revenue: Increased 34% to $2.8 billion from $2.1 billion Operating Income: Increased 91% to an all-time quarterly record of $1.2 billion from $610 million Operating Expenses: Increased 11% to $1.6 billion from $1.5 billion Operating Ratio: Improved 18% to an all-time quarterly record of 58.3% from 70.7%
Net Earnings: Increased 59% to $1.8 billion from $1.1 billion Earnings Per Share: Increased to $2.72 per share from $1.67 per share Revenue: Increased 30% to $5.5 billion from $4.2 billion Operating Income: Increased 50% to $2.5 billion from $1.7 billion Operating Expenses: Increased 17% to $3.0 billion from $$2.6 billion Operating Ratio: Improved 590 basis points to 55.1% from 61.0%
Operating ratio is a railroad’s operating expenses expressed as a percentage of operating revenue, and is considered by economists to be the basic measure of carrier profitability. The lower the operating ratio, the more efficient the railroad.
All comparisons are made to 2020’s second-quarter results for each railroad.
All figures for CN & CP are in Canadian currency, except for earnings per share for CP
Statement from SMART on the passing of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:
On this hard and difficult day, our thoughts are with the family, friends and colleagues of Richard Trumka. President of the AFL-CIO since 2009, Trumka brought with him his immense reserve of experience, grit and know-how from his time as secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO and as president of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA).
A third-generation coal miner from western Pennsylvania, he began working in the mines at age 19 and supported himself while studying for his law degree at Villanova University. In 1982, he became president of the UMWA, where he fought tirelessly for mine workers.
He dedicated his life’s work to creating a nation that would leave no worker behind and serve as a society that rewards hard work. Richard Trumka never forgot who he was working for, nor did he forget the working-class principals for which he was fighting.
SMART joins our brothers and sisters across the labor movement and working people across the United States — and around the world — in mourning his loss. His life’s work will continue, as we all continue the fight to ensure the hard work and sacrifices made by America’s working families are rewarded.
Trumka was a keynote speaker at the 2019 SMART General Convention. Click below to view a highlight from his address to more than 1200 convention delegates.
In this video, Arielle Womack of SMART SM Local 66 in Western Wash. shares the story of how her union sisters and brothers had her back after she experienced family tragedy.
“You can tell someone all day that you’re gonna be there for them. But when you show up is when it matters. ‘I Got Your Back’ is showing up when it counts.”
– Arielle Womack, SMART SM Local 66, Western Wash.
I Got Your Back: Be the Difference
We are committed to demonstrating through our behavior that all SMART members belong and have a right to a safe working environment free from harassment, hazing, bullying and discrimination. Read more >
You’ve probably heard in the news over the past few days that the U.S. Senate has agreed on a new bipartisan infrastructure package. This article is to provide facts, highlight the ongoing differences between the House’s infrastructure bill and the Senate’s infrastructure bill, show where we stand and what can be done to step up as we fight for public and worker safety and for the Rule of 2 — a certified conductor and engineer in the cab of freight locomotives.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill is a product of the Senate, where a bill needs a simple majority to pass — that means 51 votes. However, unless a bill has 60 senators in solid support, it is vulnerable to a filibuster by any who oppose the bill and thus cannot pass. This bipartisan bill has been a big deal in the news because something is being done about the nation’s infrastructure as some senators from both parties came up with a bill by working together after a long, long period of partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill. Let’s remember that this Senate bill has only been in existence since last Sunday, Aug. 1 — about three days — and things can change quickly.
The House gets a chance to make additions, subtractions, and changes to anything the Senate passes in what is known as the conference process. Be assured that our allies in the House will fight to have portions of their bill reinstated that were left out of this Senate bill, but, as it was when we first passed two-person crew legislation out of the House in 2020, the divided Senate remains an obstacle. Already, we have come farther than we did last year, and this is thanks to involvement from our membership as well as how we improved conditions for success in November 2020.
So the door is NOT CLOSED on a legislative solution from Congress coming through with this bill. A senator could amend the bill to add the two-person crew provision before a vote. The conference process also takes time, and we have strong allies in the U.S. House in Transportation Chairman Peter DeFazio and Rail Subcommittee Chairman Donald Payne who worked to get the 2PC provision in the INVEST Act both times it passed the House. But it’s not DeFazio, Payne or the U.S. representatives who already voted in favor of the INVEST Act’s two-person crew provisions that we need to convince. Republican senators who helped to craft the “bipartisan” Senate bill didn’t include the provision in accordance with the wishes of their railroad industry allies.
So what can you do to help?
We need to be loud and persistent. We need all of you to help. With the work being done right now in Washington D.C. on the legislative, and later this year, on the regulatory channel, now is the time to mobilize across the nation to step up and get the Rule of 2 across the finish line. Red state, blue state, purple state, north, south, east and west. We need to call. We need to email. Share the image above on social media. We need to explain to people in Congress, especially senators:
That public and worker safety is non-negotiable. That lives have been saved because of the presence and combined actions of a conductor and engineer working together. That the people in the freight locomotive provide the same safety functions and duties as a pilot and co-pilot on an airliner. By disregarding the 2PC provision, American lives are going to be endangered.
That the two-person crew component within the original INVEST in America ActMUST be included as the Senate considers this bill. Anything less ignores rail worker safety and community safety, jeopardizes jobs and lets the railroads and their profiteering Wall Street masters dictate what they say is safe rather than what we KNOW is safe.
Keep in mind that second path — the regulatory one — to secure the Rule of 2 is via the Federal Railroad Administration where the agency would promulgate a rule establishing a minimum crew size. Under President Biden, FRA has announced that a reopening of examining a rule concerning crew size would be a priority of the agency this autumn as it attempts to fill the regulatory vacuum that was created under the prior administration.
More about that will be shared as time goes on, but we are farther along the legislative path than we ever have been. We need to use our collective voices to get our message out to Congress.
Let’s continue to persist, step up, go forward and get the word out to Congress. Please get in touch with your senators and talk about the Rule of 2.
National Legislative Director — SMART-TD
On July 28, 2021, a Neutral appointed by the National Mediation Board issued his ruling finding that on certain railroad properties, the current moratoria in those crew consist agreements do not prohibit the railroads from serving a Section 6 Notice regarding crew size. The properties affected or having no current moratorium include certain properties at BNSF, UP, NS and CN Railroads. Other properties not currently affected or involved may also be included in the future as moratoriums naturally expire. Please contact your local chairperson or general chairperson for specific details regarding your terminal or district.
The ruling comes after a nearly two-year battle between SMART-TD and the National Railway Labor Conference over the moratoria provisions and their effect. The arbitration was one of the largest conducted by SMART-TD and its predecessor union, UTU, in decades.
The ruling does not eliminate any current crew consist provision or requirement. The only thing it does is to open the door for bargaining to occur. The moratoria that previously prevented any mandatory bargaining on crew consist were predicated on the last remaining employees having hired on the railroad previous to the 1980’s. Today, less than 100 of these employees remain nationwide, and most are at, or near retirement age.
Once a Section 6 is served, the Railway Labor Act requires both parties to engage in mandatory bargaining. The Act, however, does not mandate any particular outcome in such negotiations, it merely provides a process. In the event parties reach an impasse, the Act contains methods to avoid disruption to commerce through mandatory mediation and possibly intervention from the President of the United States and the U.S. Congress.
SMART-TD remains committed to protecting the jobs of today, as well as securing the jobs of the future. While only some General Committees will be involved in bargaining, the full support and effort of the International in assisting those Committees will continue.