Archive for the ‘TD Leadership Messages’ Category

FRA just reduced the prospects of a safer railroad industry

By John Previsich, SMART TD President, and Dennis Pierce, BLET National President

On Thursday, May 23, 2019, we were informed that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) had released a notice, withdrawing a 2016 notice of proposed rulemaking establishing a minimum train crew size for most rail freight operations in the United States. This news was not surprising.

What is shocking, however, is the degree to which FRA has chosen to subordinate the safety of BLET and SMART TD members, other railroad workers, and the American public to the interests of the nation’s major railroads.

FRA’s reference to current crew sizes, which have existed for decades, as mere “crew redundancy” displays an astonishing ignorance of the findings of the agency’s own research studies, which establish — in detail and beyond dispute — the unique and specific duties of each crewmember.

FRA also disappointingly engages in self-serving fact selection in its attempts to negate the importance of the 2013 Lac-Mégantic tragedy and the Casselton, North Dakota, oil train derailment — and subsequent explosion and fire — to the crew size debate. And it simply ignores several subsequent accidents where a two-person crew saved the public from an even more horrific outcome.

In its rush to diminish the safety impact of common-sense crew size regulations, FRA also points to various regulations requiring risk analyses and the adoption of risk reduction plans by railroads. While our Organizations fully support such plans, we note that Congress mandated regulations governing these subjects more than a decade ago, but they have yet to be promulgated because of industry recalcitrance and obstructionism.

Also, the argument that two-person crews have not been proven safer — because of FRA’s failure to collect crew size data — while the data support a conclusion that single-person crews are not demonstrably less safe is mystifying in its logic, to be charitable.

Moreover, the federal rail safety regulator hints that there is no “specific requirement that would prohibit autonomous technology from operating a locomotive or train” in the absence of any human crewmember whatsoever as a means of “reducing accidents caused by human error.” If the ongoing grounding of the Boeing MAX aircraft has taught nothing else, FRA and the Department of Transportation should be mindful of the danger of transferring the risk of a human factors accident from operator to programmer when autonomous technology is implemented. For this reason, FRA’s declared “support [for] the integration and implementation of new automation technologies” on the nation’s locomotives should give everyone pause.

Lastly, the Agency’s invocation of the negative preemption doctrine is incredible. Both the industry and the Agency reject prescriptive safety regulations as a philosophical matter, because they supposedly require a “one size fits all” approach; indeed, this was part of the industry’s argument against the proposed rule.

In stark contrast to this philosophy, FRA’s invocation of negative preemption seeks to promulgate a prescriptive prohibition, regardless of the implications of its action on federalism. In so doing, the valid safety concerns expressed by supporters of the proposed rule such as National League of Cities — representing more than 19,000 cities, villages, and towns — and the Western Organization of Resource Councils are dismissed out of hand.

We frankly did not expect this Administration to complete this rulemaking, but we did afford the new Federal Railroad Administrator a fair opportunity to demonstrate that safety was his primary objective. Given the scope of this withdrawal, the Administrator has clearly failed the test, because he has placed corporate profits above public safety. Railroad safety has taken a giant step backward today, but our Organizations do not intend to let this development go unchallenged.

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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 over 57,500 professional locomotive engineers and trainmen throughout the United States. The BLET is the founding member of the Rail Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

John Risch: FRA, Trump administration halt all crew safety efforts

Dear SMART TD,

Today the Trump administration did everything it could to stop all railroad crew safety issues.

In a Federal Register posting published at 4 p.m. today, the FRA formally withdrew the pending proposed rulemaking dating from 2016 that would have set a mandatory crew size on freight and passenger trains.

Withdrawal of Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Train Crew Staffing | Federal Railroad Administration

But the notice went much further than that. It announced that not only will FRA turn a blind eye to the unsafe practices of single-person or no-person trains, the agency claims that its notice also nullifies all state laws and regulations that establish minimum crew standards.

President Donald Trump, DOT Secretary Elaine Chao and FRA Administrator Ron Batory have taken sides, and it’s with the railroads that want to eliminate operating crew members to the detriment of rail safety and to the detriment of the communities through which our members operate trains. We are considering legal action and other avenues to protect our members and the American public from the prospects of driverless trains.

The action today flies in the face of so-called conservative values and state’s rights. The federal government is refusing to protect the public and at the same time is prohibiting states from doing so by posting this federal notice.

This action undermines my faith in the FRA in being a fair and impartial overseer of safety in the railroad industry. Clearly, the railroad CEOs have their folks in power with President Trump and his administration. This action should put an end to any thoughts that this president and this administration is supportive of railroad workers.

It is now more important than ever that we pass a federal law requiring that every train in America have a minimum of two crew members. Those two crew members must be a federally certified conductor and a federally certified locomotive engineer.

It’s time to not only send an email message to your member of Congress, but it is time for every operating railroad worker to contact their member of Congress personally. Call their offices and ask to meet with them today.

We will not be stopped by today’s terrible decision. It makes us more committed than ever to pass a federal two-person crew law.

In solidarity,

John Risch
National Legislative Director
SMART Transportation Division

2019 Regional Meeting: Night at Padres’ Petco Park offers food and fun

SMART Transportation Division has a grand slam of a time planned at San Diego’s Petco Park for registered attendees of the 2019 Regional Meeting on the evening of Tuesday, July 2.

Food, fun and baseball will be the name of the game as registered meeting attendees watch the Padres take on the National League West rival San Francisco Giants at the Padres’ home field, a short walk from the host Hilton Bayfront Hotel.

Attendees can feast on summer favorites and ballpark classics from the grill, including barbecue chicken, hot dogs and more on the historic Western Metal Building rooftop (pictured above) in left field. Food and beverage service will begin one hour prior to first pitch at 7:10 p.m. Food service will be available for two hours, and beverages will be available through the seventh inning.

The game can be enjoyed from the Western Metal rooftop, the terrace-level sports bar “The Loft,” or from adjoining seats at “The Rail.” Traditional seats are also available in Sections 226 and 228.

Members will have a chance to mingle and make memories with their guests, families and union brothers and sisters during this exciting night at Petco.

Admission to the ballpark event is included with a paid registration to the TD Regional Meeting taking place July 1 – 3, 2019, at San Diego’s Hilton Bayfront Hotel.

Don’t delay! Register today online or via mail-in form.

Tour schedule set for San Diego Regional Meeting

A pair of tours has been finalized on June 30 and July 1 for attendees of the 2019 SMART Transportation Division Regional Meeting in San Diego.

Day 1 (June 30): High Spirits Hornblower yacht luncheon/tour: Attendees will be picked up at the hotel dock at 9:45 a.m. to enjoy sightseeing on San Diego Bay with a professionally narrated harbor tour. More than 50 historic landmarks are covered by the 13-mile Big Bay cruise. Attendees will enjoy lunch on board and see marine animals and majestic sea birds on High Spirits, which was originally constructed as a sister ship to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidential yacht, the Sequoia. Attendees will arrive back at the dock at 1 p.m., giving them time to spare to visit Seaport Village, which is within walking distance, before the Regional Meeting’s opening reception Sunday evening.

Day 2 (July 1): Old Time Trolley ride and visit to the San Diego Zoo: Attendees will take a trolley from the Hilton Bayfront Hotel at 8:45 a.m. and travel to the world-renowned San Diego Zoo, home to thousands of exotic animals. Guided bus tours of the 100-acre zoo will allow visitors the chance to encounter the zoo’s more than 3,500 rare and endangered animals representing more than 650 species and subspecies and its prominent botanical collection with more than 700,000 exotic plants. A slate of wildlife shows and an airborne shortcut over the treetops will give visitors an unforgettable experience as they encounter the zoo’s animal and plant collection and surrounding Balboa Park. Lunch vouchers provided on the tour will allow attendees to customize their visit to their interests, and the tour group will return to the hotel at about 3:30 p.m.

Tour costs are $35 per person for registered guests of the regional meeting and $75 per person for guests who are not registered for the regional meeting. Follow this link to register online or you can download a fillable PDF version of the regional meeting registration form and mail in your registration.

Additional information and tickets to the tours will be distributed during on-site registration at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel, noon to 4 p.m., Saturday, June 29, or 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, June 30.

Registration is open for SMART TD’s 2019 regional meeting in San Diego

Registration is open for the 2019 SMART Transportation Division regional meeting to take place July 1 to 3 in San Diego, Calif., at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel.

Members can expect a full slate of informative workshops and many chances to build camaraderie with your fellow union brothers and sisters over the three-day meeting, which will be the lone regional meeting of the year because of the August SMART Transportation Division and general conventions.

A completed registration form and payment must be received by no later than June 17, 2019, to be considered pre-registered. The price for registration for pre-registered guests is $150 per guest. Registration for children ages 11 and under are complimentary. Registrations received after June 17 will be charged an on-site registration fee of $200. Additional fees apply for tours.

The registration fee covers all workshop materials, a welcome reception, three lunches and one evening meal. Those wishing to attend only the workshops do not need to register or pay the $150 fee.

You may cancel your meeting registration 10 days prior to the first day of the meetings without penalty. Call the Transportation Division at 216-228-9400 or email btaylor@smart-union.org immediately regarding changes or cancellations to your registration.

Visit this link to register online.

Visit this link for the mail-in registration form.

Discounted hotel reservations are available. Guests are welcome to make reservations using this link or by calling 1-800-Hiltons and mentioning the group code “SMART.”

The cutoff date to make discounted reservations at the hotel is May 28, 2019.

Additional details will be updated on the Regional Meeting page of the SMART Transportation Division website as it becomes available.

Two large U.S. rail unions announce national two-person crew legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 22, 2019) – Two large railroad unions in the United States have pledged their joint support for the Safe Freight Act legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Don Young (R – Alaska).

The Safe Freight Act (H.R. 1748) requires that two certified crew members operate freight trains on U.S. rails and has the backing of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers — Transportation Division (SMART TD) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET).

“SMART Transportation Division has been working tirelessly to promote safety in the railroad industry, and there is no doubt that the only safe rail operation is one that includes at a minimum a certified conductor and a certified locomotive engineer,” SMART TD President John Previsich said. “A clear message must be sent to our lawmakers and to the general public that multi-person crews are essential to ensuring the safest rail operations possible in their communities. I would like to thank Congressman Young for his leadership on this critical issue as we continue to improve safety on our nation’s railroads for both our members and for the general public.”

“This is necessary safety legislation to protect railroad workers and the American public,” BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce said. “While the railroad industry talks of one-person train crews and even autonomous trains, the 2013 tragedy of Lac-Megantic is justification enough that we need two sets of eyes and ears in the locomotive cab.”

Recent well-publicized rail accidents in other nations involving trains with one or no crew members show how smaller crews increase the risk of catastrophe in railroad accidents.

In September 2018, an autonomous runaway TasRail train reached speeds of 31 mph before it derailed in the Tasmanian city of Devonport, injuring two people. The train had become unresponsive to remote control commands, including the train’s emergency stop feature.

On Nov. 5, 2018, a runaway BHP ore train of 268 cars with no one aboard reached speeds of 62 mph before it was forcibly derailed in Western Australia. The approximately 1.9-mile-long train loaded with iron ore was operated by a lone crew member who had left the locomotive to inspect an issue with the brakes when the train began moving.

And finally, an oil train with a single-person crew in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, Canada, rolled into the center of the town July 6, 2013, after its brakes disengaged. The resulting derailment touched off an inferno that killed 47 people and destroyed the town center.

In the United States, labor unions and others concerned with safety on the United States’ 140,000 miles of rail are seeking to prevent such events from happening. Legislation setting crew size at two people aboard has passed in five states. A two-person crew bill backed by both the SMART TD and BLET unions (H.B. 1034) was signed into law March 21 by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis.

“Automation of cars, buses, aircraft and trucks are being addressed by legislation and in regulation by the federal government and many states. It’s time the federal government provided some oversight on railroads,” SMART TD National Legislative Director John Risch said. “Congressman Young’s bill is a first step, and we thank him for his leadership on this. The safety of the public and our members depend on this.”

“Safety is non-negotiable, and this legislation is about railroad safety,” BLET Vice President and National Legislative Representative John Tolman said. “The members of the BLET and SMART TD are highly trained professionals who have dedicated their lives to performing their jobs as safely as possible, and we thank Congressman Young for his ongoing support and for introducing H.R. 1748.”

This national legislation introduced by Young, a longtime advocate of railroad safety, is a common-sense step toward making our nation’s rails safer for workers and the public alike. It has the full endorsement of both unions.

H.R. 1748 has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials.

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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 different crafts, including as bus and commuter rail operators, 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.

Two-person crew made law in Colorado

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signs H.B. 1034 on March 21, a law making two-person freight crews required on the state’s rails.

On March 21, 2019, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed legislation into law that requires that all freight trains in the state are operated by a crew of at least two individuals.

The signing of H.B. 1034 caps a massive effort by SMART Transportation Division members that spanned years in the face of carrier opposition.

“It was a long haul and took a lot of time and energy on the part of many, many people,” Colorado State Legislative Director Carl Smith said. “Our concerted efforts did pay off, and it will ensure that the state’s railways stay safe with two crew members in each freight train’s cab.”

Smith and the Colorado State Legislative Board had an earlier two-person crew bill die in the state Senate in 2016, but tenaciously renewed their efforts early this year by gathering a broad group of supporters that included members from the six TD locals in the state, retirees, the Colorado AFL-CIO, Colorado Professional Firefighters, Conservation Colorado and American Federation of Teachers.

H.B. 1034 was first introduced by state Reps. Tom Sullivan and Daneya Esgar on Jan. 4, passed committee and was initially passed, 39-23, on Feb. 5 by the full House. State Sen. Jessie Danielson was the bill’s prime sponsor in the Senate, where it passed, 19-15, on Feb. 25 after amendment. The House passed the amended bill again March 4 by an identical 39-23 vote, putting the bill on Polis’ desk.

Smith

“Without these legislators’ understanding of the importance of this issue to the safety of our state’s railways, this would not have been possible,” Smith said.

Also helping the cause was strong public recognition by Colorado residents and legislators that train crew size is a safety-oriented issue.

On Jan. 9, the Colorado State Legislative Board released the results of a survey that showed strong support among Coloradans for a law requiring two-person crews. The survey, conducted Jan. 2 – Jan. 5, asked 550 random Colorado residents older than 18, using both cell phones and landlines, about issues centered around railroad safety. The results showed that 77 percent of Coloradans said that, given the chance, they would vote in favor of a two-person crew law.

A website (www.corailsafe.com) established by the state legislative board and a coalition of TD members and members of other unions also assisted in spreading understanding about the importance of the two-person legislation in Colorado, which joins Arizona, California, West Virginia and Wisconsin as states that have legislation requiring two people to operate freight trains.

“I am very pleased that Colorado has adopted this sensible requirement,” SMART Transportation Division National Legislative Director John Risch said. ”This is a matter of public safety, plain and simple. Freight railroad operations are complex and often entail the transport of highly hazardous materials; two crew members are vital to ensuring that these trains are operated safely and that our communities are secure.”

The Colorado law takes effect July 1.

A new name for UTU PAC, but the same support for labor-friendly legislators!

NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio (Feb. 13, 2019) — The International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Transportation Division (SMART TD) has filed with the Federal Elections Commission to change the name of its Political Action Committee. Formerly known as UTU PAC, the new name is the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Transportation Division Political Action Committee (SMART TD PAC). This change is to align the name of the PAC with the merged organization while preserving its mission of support for transportation-related issues.

“Our Political Action Committee’s identity is now more in line with the status of our union after its merger with the Sheet Metal Workers International Association,” Transportation Division President John Previsich said. “But our PAC’s mission — to offer financial support to transportation labor-friendly political candidates who keep the interests of our union members and our alumni at heart — has not changed one bit.”

With more than 28,000 contributors from the ranks of Transportation Division members, alumni, officers and others, we continue to advocate for the issues that are front and center to our brothers and sisters: advancing two-person crew legislation for freight rail operations around the country and hours-of-service regulations for yardmasters; protecting our bus and transit members from assault on the job; and many other safety and transportation-related issues. Our efforts are critical to assuring a safe and healthy place to work and securing the future for your family.

President Previsich encourages every member and alum to become a PAC member. “The money you donate — no matter what amount — helps us in that goal,” Previsich said. “Give what you can, and you will be doing your part to help our union support candidates who are in favor of common-sense transportation legislation.”

For more information about SMART Transportation Division PAC, visit www.smart-union.org/td/washington/tdpac.

SMART TD supports bill to protect bus, transit operators

SMART Transportation Division leaders support the Transit Worker and Pedestrian Protection Act (H.R.1139) introduced by U.S. Reps. Grace F. Napolitano (D – Calif.) and Congressman John Katko (R – New York) on Feb. 11 that would make the workplace safer for bus operators and commuter rail workers nationwide.

Members of SMART TD are urged to contact their U.S. senators and representatives to get them to support this important legislation. Please visit the SMART TD Legislative Action Center to find out how to get in touch with your legislators and take action on this important legislation.

“While most interactions between SMART TD members and the passengers they serve are peaceful encounters, too often that is not the case,” SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich said. “Our members deserve the protections necessary to ensure their safety, health and well-being. This legislation will require transit agencies to develop risk-reduction programs to make bus and transit services safer for TD members, riders and pedestrians alike.”

Incidents of assault on public transit occur in the United States frequently and threaten the safety of SMART TD members, the riding public and pedestrians. Countless news reports involving violent acts by unruly passengers have left SMART TD bus operators and transit employees as victims of violence.

“You name it — our members have encountered it and have had to deal with these gruesome, violent occurrences. Yet we’ve seen little done about it. This legislation fulfills the need for adequate driver shields and mandatory de-escalation training,” said SMART TD National Legislative Director John Risch. “Thank you to Representatives Napolitano and Katko for refining this important piece of legislation and for being steady in their continuing commitment to making public transportation safer in the United States.

“Our pledge is to continue to work with Congress and the Administration to ensure transit workers and those who use public transit receive the protection they deserve.”

The Transit Worker and Pedestrian Protection Act requires that both rail and bus transit agencies (those not covered by the FRA) create risk-reduction plans to protect operators within two years of the bill’s passage and that the agencies submit those plans to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for approval.

Some components of these plans could include physical barriers to prevent operator assaults, de-escalation training for workers, driver-assistance technology to reduce accidents, ergonomic improvements to prevent operator injuries and modified specifications or retrofits to reduce visibility impairments for operators.

The bill also requires that any assault on a transit or bus operator be reported to the DOT’s National Transit Database.

“There is no higher priority than operator safety. Too often we’ve seen reports of drivers getting assaulted and having their lives irreversibly changed simply because they were behind the controls doing their jobs,” said Calvin Studivant, SMART TD Bus Department vice president. “The risk-reduction programs and other safety requirements that this bill puts in place will help to keep our members safe.”

The Bus Operator and Pedestrian Protection Act (H.R. 6016), a similar bill introduced by Napolitano and Katko last year, picked up co-sponsors from both parties in the U.S. House and received the endorsement of SMART TD and other transportation unions. U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland introduced a companion bill to the 2018 legislation in the U.S. Senate and is doing the same with H.R. 1139.

The Transit Worker and Pedestrian Protection Act continues to build upon these efforts to eliminate bus and transit operator assaults, thus protecting workers, the riding public and pedestrians. It likewise receives SMART TD’s full backing.

Hotel reservations now open for 2019 TD Regional Meeting

Discounted reservations are now available at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel in San Diego, Calif., for the SMART Transportation Division Regional Meeting to take place July 1 to 3, 2019.

Guests are welcome to make their reservations using this link or by calling 1-800-Hiltons and mentioning the group code “SMART.”

The cutoff date to make discounted reservations at the hotel is May 28, 2019.

Members can expect a full slate of informative workshops and many chances to build camaraderie with your fellow union brothers and sisters over the three-day meeting, which will be the lone regional meeting of the year because of the August SMART Transportation Division and General Conventions.

Additional details, including registration information, will be updated on the Regional Meeting page of the SMART Transportation Division website as it becomes available.

TTD, SMART TD urge end to shutdown

SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich supports a rapid resolution to the partial federal government shutdown and fully endorses this message from AFL-CIO TTD President Larry Willis that was sent to U.S. representatives.

January 10, 2019

End this Unnecessary and Harmful Government Shutdown

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), I urge you to pass H.R. 267, the FY 2019 Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill and end the partial government shutdown by passing the remaining spending bills. Another day cannot pass without federal workers returning to their paid work.

As the country approaches the third week of a government shutdown, roughly 800,000 government employees are either working without pay or furloughed with no end in sight. Those numbers do not include the thousands of federal contractors going without pay and who will not likely be retroactively compensated for their loss of work. This Friday, hundreds of thousands of federal workers will miss their first paycheck of the year. This is no longer a theoretical discussion of the effects of a shutdown. Facing post-holiday bills, many workers will have to decide whether they can put gas in their car, pay the bills, or meet childcare or medical expenses. Already, thousands are beginning to apply for unemployment.

Simultaneously, shuttered agencies like the Department of Transportation (DOT) are unable to fulfill their mandates. Many of DOT’s grant making operations have been closed, forcing local and state transportation officials to halt or slow transit, rail, and even road projects until federal funding is guaranteed. In Oklahoma alone, 45 highway projects worth $137 million will be delayed. If the shutdown continues, New York City’s public transit system is expected to lose $150 million per month. Worse, state transportation agencies across the country may be forced to cut maintenance, reduce service, or furlough state workers within their transportation systems to make up for the lapse in federal funding.

The high safety and security standards that we demand and require of our transportation network are also being undermined during this government shutdown. Nearly all staff at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have been furloughed – stalling accident investigations and causing modal safety recommendations to languish. At the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), critical aviation safety inspectors and systems specialists are prevented from doing the important work of keeping our skies safe. Air traffic controllers are working without pay, and their training academies have been shuttered, further exacerbating a staffing crisis that has plagued this workforce for too long. Furthermore, federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers are reporting to work assignments that are often understaffed and are facing the added stress of not being paid, through no fault of their own.

TTD’s 32 affiliate unions represent workers in all modes of transportation. We know that consistent and strong federal investment in our transportation network not only keeps us safe, but also spurs economic growth and job creation for all Americans, expands the middle class, and creates mobility options in communities across the country. But these benefits are jettisoned when we halt funding for critical transportation accounts and bring uncertainty to an industry and sector that is so critical to our country. While H.R. 267 and the other spending bills being considered this week may not offer the funding levels we or others would prefer, it should offer a bipartisan compromise framework to get federal employees back to work.

We implore you to end this partial government shutdown now and allow federal workers to go back to serving the American people. On behalf of transportation labor, I urge you to pass H.R. 267 and reopen the nine federal agencies by passing the remaining spending bills.

Sincerely,
Larry I. Willis
President,
Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO

To read more about how the shutdown is affecting the transportation industry, visit this page from the AFL-CIO TTD.

TD members: Help to preserve SMART’s pension!

Dear members of SMART Transportation Division:

Your help is needed to get the word out to certain members of Congress who want to take pension money from our Sheet Metal brothers and sisters and other union workers covered by multi-employer pension plans.

A decade ago, in the midst of the Great Recession, SMART and other multi-employer pension plans had the foresight to take steps to make sure they could meet their necessary obligations even during a period of financial collapse. These steps involved sacrifice on the part of these plan participants and resulted in solvent and stable pension plans able to meet their obligations for years to come.

However, there is a minority of pension plans covering about 1 million participants that did not make these changes, and these pensions could run out of money in the future. In addition, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC), which serves as a safety net for financially troubled pensions, is having money troubles of its own. It could be insolvent within a decade.

To address these shortfalls, Congress has convened a Joint Select Committee to consider ways to resolve the potential insolvencies. But the draft plan being considered by this Congressional committee could punish healthy and solvent pensions, like the one covering SMART members, for the sake of solving the financial shortfalls of the failing pensions and the PBGC.

Politicians need to know that this plan is not acceptable, and we ask that you make it clear that another solution, one that does not take money away from solvent plans, must be found.

Our SMART brothers and sisters need our help, please call. You also can text PENSION to 21233 and to be connected directly to your congressional office. Message and data rates apply for that service.

Members of the Joint Select Committee:

  • Congressman Vern Buchanan – Florida 16th 202-225-5015
  • Congresswoman Virginia Foxx – North Carolina 5th 202-225-2071
  • Congressman Phil Roe – Tennessee 1st 202-225-6356
  • Congressman David Schweikert – Arizona 6th 202-225-2190
  • Congresswoman Debbie Dingell – Michigan 12th 202-225-4071
  • Congressman Richard E. Neal – Massachusetts 1st 202-225-5601
  • Congressman Donald Norcross – New Jersey 1st 202-225-6501
  • Congressman Bobby Scott – Virginia 3rd 202-225-8351
  • Senator Orrin Hatch – Utah (Co-Chair) 202-224-5251
  • Senator Lamar Alexander – Tennessee 202-224-4494
  • Senator Michael Crapo – Idaho 202-224-6142
  • Senator Rob Portman – Ohio 202-224-3353
  • Senator Sherrod Brown – Ohio (Co-Chair) 202-224-2315
  • Senator Heidi Heitkamp – North Dakota 202-224-2043
  • Senator Joe Manchin – West Virginia 202-224-3954
  • Senator Tina Smith – Minnesota 202-224-5641

A suggested script for your call to Congress:

My name is ___________ and I am a member of SMART Transportation Division Local ____. My union brothers and sisters in the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers participate in a multi-employer defined benefit pension fund.

I am calling today to voice my strong opposition to the current proposal of the Joint Select Committee. This proposal attempts to infuse money into the broken PBGC on the backs of healthy pension plans and forces the funding status of well-performing funds to go backward.

My union does not endorse this proposal, nor do I. We expect any friend of labor to stand with us on this position.