Archive for the ‘TD Leadership Messages’ Category

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.

UPDATED: The Passing of General President Emeritus Joseph Nigro

The General President, General Secretary Treasurer, General Executive Council, Staff of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers and the members and officers of SMART affiliates across the U.S. and Canada mourn the death of our esteemed brother and a legendary crusader for working people everywhere, SMART General President Emeritus Joseph J. Nigro.

Joe was a proud member of Local Union 17 in Boston and served as General President from July 2011 until April 1, 2015. In a letter to the locals and membership upon his retirement, he stated, “I have committed my heart and mind to accomplishing the goals we have set, but my health has taken me in a direction I did not anticipate. Unfortunately, I have been unable to recover to a level I expect of myself as your General President—the level of effort the members deserve”. A fitting response from Joe, who always gave the membership 100% of what he believed they deserved.

Nigro was the first General President of SMART and the leader of our more than 200,000 members. At the first SMART Convention Joe, who was very proud of SMART leadership at all levels stated, “we have had some successes and have laid the groundwork for moving forward, I have every confidence we have collectively built a team of International and Local Union leaders who can get the job done for the membership.”

Joe Nigro’s vision, guidance, kindness and sense of humor will live on to inspire not only those whose lives he touched, but also future generations of members who will benefit from his leadership. We will forever miss his friendship and unwavering support.

He will always be remembered as the “Members General President”. A title he richly deserved and cherished.

A viewing is scheduled 2 to 7 p.m. Monday, October 29th, 2018, at Sweeney Funeral Home, 74 Elm St., Quincy, MA 02169. The funeral home can be contacted at (617) 773-2728.

A funeral Mass will be 11 a.m. Tuesday, October 30th, 2018, in Most Holy Sacrament Church (Houghs Neck Section of Quincy), 40 Darrow St. (at Sea Street) in Quincy, MA 02169.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to:

“SMWI Scholarship Foundation/Joey Nigro Jr.”

c/o Christy Foley

1750 New York Avenue N.W. Suite 600

Washington, DC 20006

 

Cards can be sent to Pat Nigro and family at 5296 N. Princewood Drive, Beverly Hills, FL 34465.

Our hearts and prayers go out to Pat, Tina and the entire Nigro family on their irreplaceable loss.

 

 

Joseph Sellers, Jr.                                                               Richard L. McClees

General President                                                               General Secretary-Treasurer

 

D.C. legislative update: More support for legislative priorities

Two legislative priorities gained support in early October.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas (Dist. 30) is the latest legislator to sign up to support H.R. 6016 — the Bus Operator and Pedestrian Protection Act, which was introduced over the summer.

The bill requires transit agencies to develop Bus Operations Safety Risk Reduction Programs by implementing physical barriers to prevent operator assaults, de-escalation training for bus drivers, driver-assisted technology to reduce accidents, and modified bus specifications or retrofits to reduce visibility impairments.

It has gained 50 Democratic and three Republican co-sponsors since its June introduction by U.S. Rep. Grace Napolitano (Dist. 32 – Calif.) in the U.S. House. A companion bill in the U.S. Senate (S. 3215) has two Democratic co-sponsors.

S. 2360 — The Safe Freight Act requiring a minimum of two-person crews on freight trains in the United States — also gained a new co-sponsor in early October in Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon.

The addition of Merkley brings the total number of co-sponsors of the bill, which was introduced by U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota early this year, to 13. All of the co-sponsors are Democrats with the exception of independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine.

The House version of the Safe Freight Act (H.R. 233), which was introduced by Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young of Alaska, has 119 bipartisan co-sponsors at last count.

The Railroad Yardmaster Protection Act (H.R. 3148), introduced by U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan (D) of Minnesota, gained a pair of new co-sponsors in late September, with Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (Ill. – Dist. 13) and Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson (Minn. – Dist. 7) signing on to sponsor the bill. That bill now has 23 bipartisan cosponsors.

As the November election approaches, the SMART TD Legislative Action Center allows you to find out who represents you and what their voting records are for the issues that are important to our membership to help you make an informed decision.

Candidate endorsements will appear in the October edition of the SMART Transportation Division News.

Our SMART TD brothers and sisters in the Carolinas need your help!

Dear members of SMART Transportation Division:

Hurricane Florence and its resulting floods have left behind substantial destruction in North and South Carolina, leading to the loss of life and millions, if not billions, of dollars in damage to property in the Mid-Atlantic region and inland.

Some of those affected by the devastation include our Brothers and Sisters of SMART Transportation Division (SMART TD) who live in the region. This disaster adds a tremendous burden to their lives and the amount of loss that they now must cope with is unimaginable. The silver lining is, and will continue to be, the generosity of citizens around the country who are giving what they can to help those affected to help overcome the effects of this disaster and to reclaim their lives.

We are asking the SMART TD family to rise to the call and give what you can so that the daunting task of starting over and rebuilding can begin. Your generous donation will help lessen the struggle and bring real hope and relief to our SMART TD members who are suffering through this disaster.

Please make your donation to the SMART TD Disaster Relief Fund. All donations to the fund are used solely for the benefit of TD members who are impacted by natural disasters, and are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Contributions may be sent to:

SMART TD Disaster Relief Fund

Suite 340

24950 Country Club Blvd.

North Olmsted, OH 44070-5333

Sincerely,

John Previsich

President, SMART Transportation Division

Transportation Division leaders in attendance at TTD executives’ meeting

SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich and Vice President John England were in attendance Sept. 12 as the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department (TTD) Executive Committee convened in Washington, D.C., and helped to set the agenda for the 32-union coalition’s future efforts.

Atop the committee’s list of goals is creating and sustaining good jobs that working families want and need by strengthening America’s transportation network and improving workplace safety at a time when stagnating wages, a changing economy, and coordinated, sustained attacks on the rights of working people have fueled a new wave of activism among workers.

SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich and Vice President John England pose for a group picture of the AFL-CIO TTD Executive Committee after its meeting Sept. 12.

SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich and Vice President John England pose for a group picture of the AFL-CIO TTD Executive Committee after its meeting Sept. 12.

“Transportation workers belong to unions and are organizing today because working people know collective bargaining is the best path to good jobs and a fair economy,” said TTD President Larry I. Willis. “The policies we fight for today and every day are focused on improving quality of life for frontline transportation workers and creating an economy that enables those who work hard to lead dignified lives.”

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. John Katko (R-NY), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, were in attendance at the meeting and participated in the discussion among union leaders.

“The dedicated men and women who power our transportation network and enable our economy to thrive deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and know they are safe at work, receiving fair pay and benefits,” Schumer said. “Fixing our transportation infrastructure, revitalizing the middle class, and enhancing the rights and working conditions of those who work in the transportation trades should be a priority for Congress.”

“Making sure our transportation system is safe, secure, and a creator of good jobs is one of my top priorities,” Katko said. “I look forward to working with TTD unions and all stakeholders to develop comprehensive, commonsense solutions to our most pressing transportation challenges.”

Union leaders committed themselves to shaping FAA legislation that will cement America’s aviation industry as a hub of good, middle-class jobs by prioritizing pro-safety, pro-worker initiatives. Key issues transportation labor leaders will push for include securing minimum rest requirements for flight attendants, prohibiting dangerous flag-of-convenience business models, mitigating assaults against customer service agents, upholding strict pilot training requirements, and barring the operation of single-pilot cargo planes.

Taking aim at changes made by Amtrak that threaten the carrier’s long-distance routes and the good jobs those routes provide, Executive Committee members pledged to fight for a national passenger rail system that serves the entire country. They also called on the Trump administration and lawmakers to halt dangerous efforts by the freight carrier Kansas City Southern to move rail operations, brake inspections and jobs to Mexico.

“Strict freight rail regulations exist for a reason,” Willis said. “By seeking to write their own rules and undermine longtime standards, Kansas City Southern is jeopardizing good jobs and safety. Transportation labor will not stand for it.”

Labor leaders also vowed to work with members of Congress to pass legislation designed to mitigate the epidemic of assault facing America’s transit operators. Bipartisan legislation in the House and Senate requiring transit agencies to work with frontline employees to develop risk-reduction plans and implement proven safeguards is a priority for transportation labor leaders.

TTD’s Executive Committee also pledged to fight for regulations that would ensure the temperatures in commercial aircraft cabins remain at healthy, safe levels.