Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

In-person treasurer training scheduled for March

The Transportation Division Local Support Department plans a three-day training session for local treasurers in Cleveland from March 8 – 10, 2022.

Workshops will run 9 a.m. to 5 or 6 p.m. all three days. The sessions will help local treasurers hone their skills with TD Connect along with the electronic billing system and WinStabs. Additional topics may include maintaining payroll deductions, making proper disbursements, budgeting, record keeping, paying taxes and filing reports with authorities.

Attendance is limited to 25 registrants. Spaces will be filled on a first-come basis. Please register for the workshop here.

The sessions will include all training and materials at no cost to the local. However, the local is responsible for all other costs associated with the treasurer’s attendance at the workshop. Lost time or salary, travel, hotel and meal expenses connected with attendance may be reimbursed if pre-approved by the membership at the local meeting as an allowable expense of the local.

Training will take place in Hope Ballroom A, 3rd Floor of the Hilton — Cleveland Downtown, 100 Lakeside Ave. East, in Cleveland.

More information is available in this PDF.

New FMCSA deputy administrator named

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced in a news release Jan. 19 that Robin Hutcheson will become deputy administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and serve as acting administrator.

Hutcheson has served as deputy assistant secretary for safety policy for the U.S. Department of Transportation in the Biden-Harris administration and had a role in the development of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

Prior to being appointed to the Biden-Harris Administration, she was the Director of Public Works for the City of Minneapolis overseeing a team of 1,100 people across nine divisions including drinking water, surface waters and sewers, solid waste and recycling, fleet management, and all transportation functions.

Prior to her appointment in Minneapolis, she served as the Transportation Director for Salt Lake City, UT, working to improve all modes of transportation. Robin also has served as a consultant specializing in transportation and transit and has worked throughout the western United States, in London and France, and for the European Union Commission on Sustainability.

Robin served for seven years on the Board of Directors for the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), most recently serving as its President.

Hutcheson succeeds Meera Joshi, who departed for a city administration role in New York City.

FMCSA was established in January 2000. Formerly a part of the Federal Highway Administration, its primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

SMART-TD member loses home in fire

On January 9, 2022, tragedy struck in the form of a fire for Alaska Railroad conductor and SMART-TD Local 1626 (Anchorage, Alaska) member Danielle Gallagher. Gallagher and her two children lost their home near Palmer, Alaska, that night, reports Local 1626 Secretary & Treasurer Justin Voss.

Gallagher family

The local has rallied around Gallagher and Alaska SLD and Local Legislative Representative Darren Toppin has set up a GoFundMe account to help her with expenses as the family works to recover from the fire.

“Danielle is a conductor for the Alaska Railroad and a very dedicated employee. She loves her job! Not only is Danielle a great coworker, she is also [a] great friend. She is always willing to reach out and lend a hand and helps anyone in need. No matter the situation,” Toppin said on the GoFundMe page. “This is now our chance to help her and her awesome kids and say, thank you for always having our backs.”

In addition to the loss of their home, some of the family dogs were lost in the fire. The farm animals, including horses and cattle and other livestock, were not harmed.

Click here to make a donation to the fund to help Gallagher and her kids.

 

Dates set for 2022 TD Annual Meeting

Save the date for the TD annual meeting!

SMART Transportation Division is pleased to announce that plans are underway to resume the TD Annual Meetings after a two-year pandemic disruption.

The meeting is scheduled to take place Aug. 8 through 10, 2022, at the San Francisco Hilton Union Square, 333 O’Farrell St., San Francisco, CA 94102. It’s a great opportunity to take part in informative in-person workshops and build camaraderie with fellow union brothers and sisters over the three-day meeting.

Details regarding costs, registration and schedule will be communicated as they are finalized and will be posted on the union website.

Remembering Martin Luther King’s legacy

SMART-TD shares with the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. the dream that men and women should be judged not by the color of their skin, their nationality or religious beliefs, but by the content of their hearts.

King’s brilliance, vision, leadership and ultimate personal sacrifice shifted the course of American history by shedding light and bringing hope to a nation marred by racism, ignorance and inequality.

King’s work and his words brought the promise of justice, hope and freedom to people of color and to the oppressed everywhere. His words still ring as powerfully, relevant and true today as they did more than 50 years ago:

“And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

–- From Martin Luther King’s historic speech delivered Aug. 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

Read King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in its entirety here.

Watch highlights of King’s speech.

Read an article about King and his connections with labor.

Former VP Donald Carver passes away

Former Vice President Donald Carver, who led the United Transportation Union Yardmasters Department from 1987 until his retirement in 2003, passed away January 11, 2022, one day prior to his 79th birthday, his family announced.

Carver

Brother Carver had a 41-year career on the railroad that began when he hired out in April 1962 as a switchman on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. He joined UTU predecessor union the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen (BRT) in May 1962 before becoming a yardmaster and an officer in the Railroad Yardmasters of America (RYA), rising to general chairperson and a national vice president in the 1970s in that union before its merger with UTU.

In 1987, Carver was elected UTU assistant to the president/yardmasters and he served in that capacity before being elevated to vice president in 2003. In total, 29 of Carver’s 41 years were as a union officer.

The late Jim “J.R.” Cumby, Brother Carver’s immediate successor in leading the Yardmasters Department, wrote a tribute to Carver in an issue of the UTU News published after Carver’s retirement in September 2003:

“Don was an indefatigable road warrior. When the carriers raised the qualifying days worked to seven for carrier-paid insurance, Don went to bat for our part-time officers. With assistance from the negotiating committee, Don ensured all our part-time officers working on the railroad at least one day per month retained carrier-paid insurance benefits,” Cumby wrote in the November 2003 UTU News.

Carver left “some mighty big shoes” to fill in representing the union’s members, Cumby wrote.

Carver’s role with the union hadn’t closed quite yet. In 2004, he served on a blue-ribbon committee to shape union technological efforts for the union as it headed into the 21st century.

After announcing his retirement, Brother Carver closed his final farewell column to the membership with a traditional Irish blessing:

“May the road rise up to meet you, May the wind be always at your back, May the sun shine warm upon your face, And the rain fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”

He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Dianna Mae, and two children, the Rev. Dr. Richard Carver Jr. (Stephanie) and Marla Sanders (Chris); five grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and his brother, David. He was preceded in death by his parents, Rev. Dr. Edward and Alene Carver, and his sister Beth Ostercamp.

A celebration of Brother Carver’s life will take place 12:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, at Schoppenhorst Underwood & Brooks Funeral Home, 123 Winning Colors Dr., Mt. Washington, Ky. Interment will follow at Bethany Memorial Cemetery, 10917 Dixie Hwy., Louisville.

The SMART Transportation Division offers its sincere condolences to the Carver family, his friends and the union brothers and sisters who knew him.

Click here read Carver’s full obituary or to leave condolences.

SMART-TD, BLET rail unions initiate steps to strike BNSF properties over new ‘Hi-Viz’ attendance policy punishing sick rail workers during the pandemic

CLEVELAND, Ohio, (January 13, 2022) — Yesterday, members of the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation union (SMART-TD) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) who work for the BNSF Railway initiated steps to go on strike following the railroad’s announcement of its so-called “Hi-Viz” attendance policy, which SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson and BLET National President Dennis Pierce called “the worst and most egregious attendance policy ever adopted by any rail carrier.”

Presidents Ferguson and Pierce said the impending policy, which BNSF plans to implement on February 1, repudiates numerous collectively bargained agreements currently in place throughout the BNSF system. It is so restrictive that employees would be penalized for missing work to attend the funeral of an immediate family member.

“This unprecedented BNSF policy repudiates direct and clear contract language and, in application, will attempt to force our members to report for duty without regard for their medical condition as we struggle to come out of a pandemic,” the presidents said. “It also stands to take away any ability by our members to avoid working fatigued when they are routinely called without warning due to the complete lack of reliable train lineups, thus creating the potential for an even more unsafe railroad operation. So-called ‘forced overtime’ in an industry where safety is so critical not only repudiates our agreements, it stands to enact irreparable harm on hundreds of full-time employees whose non-workplace obligations prevent them from being at work every day of their life.”

BNSF’s new Hi-Viz policy is a points-based system which penalizes employees — who in many cases have no assigned days off — any time they take time off work for practically any reason. In a FAQ that BNSF sent out to its employees, the carrier claimed that they “must improve crew availability to remain competitive in the industry” and that their revised Hi-Viz program helps with this issue “by incentivizing consistent and reliable attendance.” BNSF goes on to claim that a reduction in absenteeism will improve predictability of work assignments. However, the affected employees and their unions have made clear that they view BNSF’s approach to this issue as a juxtaposition. That is: if the carrier instead focused its efforts on predictable scheduling of assignments and competent management of its furloughed employees, there would be no need to impose such draconian attendance policies.

“Our members have simply had enough of the treatment they are enduring from the BNSF Railway,” President Ferguson and President Pierce said. “The Company’s half-baked attempt to characterize this policy as an ‘improvement’ and an ‘incentive’ is nothing short of disingenuous, and outright insulting. Although BNSF will not admit it, it has implemented so-called Precision Scheduled Railroading and is attempting to do more with less by intimidating our members, under threat of discipline and/or termination, into working additional shifts while they continue to furlough junior employees. Our members have worked tirelessly to keep goods moving during a global pandemic, but the railroad is once again placing monetary profits over people to appease shareholders and Wall Street. Our membership is tired, frustrated and fed up with the treatment they continue to receive. As is the growing trend among all major rail carriers, the working conditions at BNSF have deteriorated to the point that there are many tenured employees leaving the railroad industry because they can no longer tolerate the treatment that they must endure on a daily basis. This new attendance policy may be the tipping point for what may be the ‘great railroad resignation.’”

On January 12, President Ferguson and President Pierce gave permission to their organizations’ respective BNSF General Committees of Adjustment to begin polling their membership regarding a withdrawal from service over this major dispute. Under the SMART Constitution, the union’s leadership may authorize a strike after the affected General Chairpersons obtain two-thirds majority approval from the Local Chairpersons under their jurisdiction. Under BLET internal law, a majority of the membership at any given railroad, or their Local Chairmen, must vote in favor of a strike and the National President and the General Chairmen must approve the date for any withdrawal from service.

Collectively, the unions represent more than 17,000 active members at the BNSF.

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The SMART Transportation Division is comprised of approximately 125,000 active and retired members of the former United Transportation Union, who work in a variety of crafts in the transportation industry.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen represents nearly 57,000 professional locomotive engineers and trainmen throughout the United States. The BLET is the founding member of the Rail Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

TD leadership applauds confirmation of Amit Bose to lead FRA

Amit Bose, who has been serving the Biden administration as acting administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) since February 2021, was confirmed Jan. 12 by the U.S. Senate to become full administrator. This was a bi-partisan vote 68-29.

From left, SMART Transportation Division Minnesota State Legislative Director Nick Katich, Michigan SLD Don Roach, Amtrak employee Stefan Schweitzer, then-FRA Deputy Administrator Amit Bose, TD Local 168 (Chicago, Ill.) member Keisha Hamb-Grover and Illinois State Legislative Director Bob Guy stand at Chicago’s Union Station on Oct. 13. Bose was confirmed Jan. 12 as full administrator of the FRA.

Bose’s nomination by President Joe Biden had been put on hold by Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Scott of Florida after it had cleared the U.S. Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Oct. 20, 2021.

“We are pleased and excited to continue our collaboration with Administrator Bose and the FRA as we press ahead on important safety issues such as regulating freight crew size,” SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy Ferguson said. “Our National Legislative Department and other members of our legislative team have had numerous conversations with Administrator Bose while serving in an acting capacity. We look to build upon the positive relationship that’s been established and on the progress that has been made already, and we congratulate him on his overdue confirmation.”

During his tenure, Bose already has shown that rail labor’s input will be sought, rather than disregarded by FRA. Under the Biden administration, FRA has publicly announced that it plans to reopen the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding the regulation of a minimum freight crew size.

Bose was a guest during the October call of SMART-TD state legislative directors and made it clear that the agency will prioritize cooperative efforts between labor and the federal government such as the Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS), the newly rechartered Rail Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) and Fatality Analysis of Maintenance-of-way Employees and Signalmen group.

“The lines of communication between labor and FRA have been open ever since his nomination,” National Legislative Director Gregory Hynes said. “We’ve had productive dialogue from the start with Administrator Bose — rail safety is back on the table.”

Bose has years of experience serving in the public sector. He has served two stints as FRA deputy administrator, and has served as FRA chief counsel, USDOT associate general counsel and USDOT deputy assistant secretary for governmental affairs including with former Federal Railroad Administrator and SMART-TD Illinois State Legislative Director Joe Szabo of Local 1290 (Chicago).

In addition to living along the Northeast Corridor in West Windsor, N.J., and working for New Jersey Transit, Bose helped establish and later served on the Northeast Corridor Commission. He also participated in structuring the commission’s cost allocation policy, helped the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) deliver a $2.5 billion Railroad Rehabilitation and Infrastructure Financing (RRIF) loan to Amtrak for its next generation of Acela rail cars, and worked on the environmental review of a number of projects.

Union officers’ efforts yield better protections for N.J. transportation workers

SMART Transportation Division Bus Department Vice President Calvin Studivant and New Jersey State Legislative Director Ron Sabol spent a significant time brainstorming ways to protect members in Sabol’s state last year.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic had added even more potential risk to our members working on New Jersey Transit (NJT) and other carriers. Beyond their daily duties of keeping things moving, the need for workers to enforce COVID safety measures increased the potential for conflict and violent incidents with dangerous outcomes for workers, riders and even the public.

Two assaults on NJT workers drew headlines through the autumn. A union tracking violence against NJT workers reported more than 130 instances of workers being attacked. Something needed to be done.

In response, Studivant and Sabol, in conjunction with SMART-TD legislative and legal leadership, developed and presented what became the Motorbus and Passenger Rail Service Employee Violence Prevention Act.

On Jan. 10, that legislation was signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy.

“I’m very proud of what this law accomplishes in protecting transportation workers in our state,” Sabol said. “It took the help of many people on both our side, including National Legislative Director Greg Hynes and TD Designated Legal Counsel Safety Coordinator Larry Mann, the persistence of other labor organizations, and a receptive, bipartisan group of legislators to get this done.”

Assemblyman Daniel R. Benson (D-Dist. 14) and state Sen. Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. (D-Dist. 18) were the driving forces behind the versions of the Motorbus and Passenger Rail Service Employee Violence Prevention Act that ran concurrently in rapid fashion through both chambers of the New Jersey Legislature. On the Republican side, State Sen. Robert R. Singer (R-Dist. 30) also championed the bill that gained massive support from both parties in the Senate.

The Senate version, S-4071, passed unanimously Dec. 20 on a 39-0 vote. The Assembly version, A-6013, passed unanimously with a 76-0 vote the same day.

“We cannot thank Assemblyman Benson enough for his diligence and his amazing effort in putting in the time to make this legislation succeed,” Sabol said after the bill’s signing. “He spent hours engaging fellow legislators with in-depth discussions as he proposed and helped to advance the legislation. The same goes again with state Sens. Diegnan and Singer, who were instrumental in initiating and retaining the overwhelming bipartisan support the law gained, and, of course, Gov. Murphy.”

The Motorbus and Passenger Rail Service Employee Violence Prevention Act upgrades the penalty for all assaults on a motorbus or autobus operator, the operator’s supervisor and a rail passenger employee. It also empowers NJT, motorbus companies and all rail passenger service providers to ban riders from their transportation services for up to one year if the person commits an assault on a motorbus operator, the operator’s supervisor or a rail passenger employee.

If a deadly weapon was used during the assault, the rider may be banned for life.

“Transportation workers are far too often subjected to vicious attacks by irate passengers for simply doing their jobs,” said Benson, who serves as chairperson of the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee. “Our bus and rail employees must be protected as they fulfill their critical duties on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of commuters in our state.”

“This bill, while long overdue, is right on time,” Vice President Studivant said. “The collaborative efforts to secure this piece of legislation is a testament to the men and women who face adverse conditions on a daily basis for simply doing their jobs of moving the people of N.J.”

“Congratulations to Vice President Studivant, SLD Sabol and the New Jersey State Legislative Board for their outstanding work, and thanks to Larry Mann for his guidance in this victory,” National Legislative Director Greg Hynes said. “This legislation could be a great blueprint for other states to follow suit.”

Of note, Gov. Murphy also signed S.771, a second piece of legislation expanding workers’ compensation coverage to include injuries that occurs in employer parking lots. Both SMART-TD and the New Jersey Council of Safety and Health (COSH) supported the bill.

District court denies SMART-TD, BLET bid to halt Metra vaccine mandate

CLEVELAND, Ohio (January 7) — On January 6, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, ruled against the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART-TD) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), denying the unions’ preliminary injunction motions to stop Metra’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

The unions took the position that Metra had no authority to unilaterally implement and enforce a COVID vaccination mandate among its employees without the required bargaining pursuant to the Railway Labor Act (RLA). The unions contended that by failing to negotiate the terms of implementation, Metra violated the status quo requirement and, in turn, engaged in a major dispute. The court ruled in favor of Metra, finding the matter to be a minor dispute. The court also rejected the unions’ alternative argument that the mandate should be put on hold while the Adjustment Board decided the dispute.

SMART-TD and BLET are engaged in similar lawsuits to halt vaccination mandates on other rail carriers, including BNSF Railway (BNSF), Norfolk Southern (NS), and Union Pacific (UP).

“Needless to say we are disappointed in the outcome of this lawsuit, especially considering other federal judges blocked vaccine mandates,” SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson and BLET President Dennis Pierce said. “We will continue to fight to protect the rights of our members during these historically difficult times.”

Read the ruling.

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The SMART Transportation Division is comprised of approximately 125,000 active and retired members of the former United Transportation Union, who work in a variety of crafts in the transportation industry.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen represents nearly 57,000 active and retired locomotive engineers and trainmen throughout the United States. The BLET is the founding member of the Rail Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

FRA recruiting for safety inspector openings

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has a number of positions open and is looking for candidates to fill these jobs.

Among the open positions are:

  • Rail Safety Inspector positions in Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Wisconsin
  • grade crossing and trespasser Rail Safety Inspector positions in California, New York, Connecticut and Illinois
  • track Safety Inspector positions in Illinois, New Jersey, Texas and Virginia;
  • Railroad Safety Specialist positions concentrating on Kansas City Southern/Union Pacific that based out of Houston, Texas; Kansas City and St. Louis, Mo.; Chicago, Ill.; and Los Angeles, Calif.

“Recruiting is everyone’s business at FRA,” said David Kannenberg of FRA’s Office of Railroad Safety. “FRA is hiring!”

For a full slate of openings at FRA, visit USAJobs.gov.

GC Danny Young passes away unexpectedly

The SMART Transportation Division has been shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden passing of General Chairperson Danny Young (GO-017), a longtime leader in our union and member of Local 1081 (Glendale, Ariz.), on Dec. 31, 2021.

Young

Brother Young was born and raised in Winslow, Arizona. He was an avid athlete, winning a gold medal as a Junior Olympic wrestler and playing college football at Mesa Community College. He went on to graduate from Grand Canyon University with a Bachelor of Science in finance. He followed in his father’s footsteps to have a career with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway (now BNSF) and joined the union in April 1995. He was promoted to engineer in 1998.

Young became interested in unionism and became trustee for Local 1081 in 1999, then local chairperson the same year. In 2003, he was elected secretary of BNSF Railway General Committee GO-017 and then re-elected to the post in 2007. Young was elected second alternate vice president-West by delegates at the UTU Convention in 2007 and later was elevated to alternate vice president-West in 2009, the same year that he became a general chairperson. He continued as an alternate vice president for the union until Sept. 30, 2019 and served as a general chairperson for more than 12 years. He was a member of the SMART-TD team in the 2017 national contract negotiations and was a frequent presenter at regional meetings regarding first response in the event of transportation emergencies.

He is survived by his wife, Julie; his mother, Carol Young; his mother-in-law, Kathy Ball; his brother, Mike (Lisa) Young; his brother-in-law, Bobby Ball; his nephews Danny, Jordan, Nathan and Garrett; his great nephew Jace and his dogs Hank and Jake. Preceding him in death was his father, William “Butch” Young, who himself was a general chairperson.

Danny loved to fish and travel the world. He was a lifelong, dedicated fan of the Arizona Cardinals. He was fun-loving, had the biggest personality and a laugh that was one-of-a-kind. He will be missed dearly by his family, friends and colleagues.

Private memorial services for the family will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Brother Young may be made to The Humane Society of the United States.

SMART Transportation Division offers its most sincere and heart-felt condolences to Brother Young’s family, friends and his brother and sisters in Local 1081 and GO-017.