Archive for the ‘TD Leadership Messages’ Category

Members ratify agreement with Louisiana and North West RR

SMART Transportation Division-represented members who work on the Louisiana and North West (LNW) Railroad recently ratified a new contract to run through 2023.

The agreement allows for a 3% raise, effective June 2019; a 3% raise in June 2020; and a 3% raise in June 2021. These will be followed by raises of 2.5% in June 2022 and 2.5% in June 2023.

Employees covered by the agreement also receive a $300 ratification bonus and back pay to be paid by the end of December.

The contract protects the status of certain employees, establishes Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a paid holiday starting next year and awards an additional week of vacation to employees who have served the carrier more than 20 years.

TD Vice President Chadrick Adams assisted General Chairperson Jess Kilgore of Local 781 (Shreveport, La.) in negotiating the successful agreement for GCA-LNW.

“This was a challenging process for our union,” Adams said. “But in the end we were able to get a contract that our members found to be to their satisfaction.”

A prior agreement failed in the ratification process earlier this year.

LNW, based in Homer, La., operates 62.6 miles from McNeil, Ark., to Gibsland, La., and is owned by Patriot Rail Corp.

As holidays approach, a note from President Ferguson

Dear Brothers & Sisters:

We are approaching the close of another year, and my thoughts grow stronger about each of you during this forthcoming holiday period.

Your daily lifestyles, both personally and professionally, are demanding and sometimes conflictive. Giving them respect and balance can be a challenge.

In that regard, do not compromise the importance of adequate rest. Exercising sound judgment when it comes to rest will minimize the risk of failure when fulfilling your chosen responsibilities as a transportation worker.

I’ve walked in your shoes and understand the lifestyle of being a professional railroader. Fatigue can lead to a loss of situational awareness, and a loss of situational awareness can often lead to tragedy. The holidays are a dangerous time of year for our industry.

In that regard take care of yourself, be safe and do what is right.

Happy Thanksgiving!




Jeremy R. Ferguson,
President, Transportation Division

Furloughed TD workers: Contact for trade opportunities

With carriers cutting positions and furloughing members, your union wants to alert displaced Transportation Division workers to SMART Union opportunities available through the Sheet Metal side.

If you send an email to, your union can begin a process that can link workers who have the appropriate skills with potential jobs in the building trades. Please include all your contact information along with what level of skills you may have in the construction or fabrication fields. We will then set up phone interviews to evaluate your skill levels and readiness to work as such opportunities arise.

Labor opportunities previously identified in the commercial roofing sector are no longer available, but additional jobs in the future will be publicized as identified.

After an initial email to, is received you’ll be contacted by SMART-TD, and we’ll identify what would be the next steps in the process.

If you are furloughed – YOUR UNION is here to help!

New leadership chosen for Association of General Chairpersons — District 3

General chairpersons comprising the Association of General Chairpersons — District 3, convened Nov. 12 at the TD office in North Olmsted, Ohio.

The Association of General Chairpersons — District 3, consisting of the general chairpersons in the SMART Transportation Division Bus Department, chose new leadership Nov. 12 and discussed initiatives put forth over the summer at the SMART General Convention by the SMART Transit/Bus Committee.

Elected to lead District 3 at the conclusion of the meeting were Chairperson Tonette Nixon-Pray (Local 172, Darby, Pa.); Vice Chairperson Erskins Robinson (Local 1785, Santa Monica, Calif.); and Secretary Tom Pate (Local 1081, Glendale, Ariz.).

New officers of the Association of General Chairpersons — District 3 elected on Nov. 12 are, from left, Secretary Tom Pate, Chairperson Tonette Nixon-Pray and Vice Chairperson Erskins Robinson.

TD President Jeremy Ferguson took questions from the 16 GCs in attendance and laid out some of the initiatives that the union will be focusing on in the coming months under his administration. Among those discussed by President Ferguson were intensified efforts at organizing, the establishment of a Bus Safety Team and improving accessibility to educational offerings.

“We need more boots on the ground,” he said, and changes to the Organizing Department to enhance its power will be made after the first of the year. “We’ll have more organizers out there that can work not only on getting new properties but helping existing properties where they need help.”

Chief of Staff Jerry Gibson said that the TD office will collect as much information as it can of incidences that put members working in bus and transit service to document at risk in the run-up to the establishment of a Bus Safety Team, and that nominations of safety-oriented TD members will be sought to serve on that team.

“If you’re going to talk the talk, then walk the walk. I expect you to be active, and those are the type of people we’re looking for to be involved,” Gibson said.

President Ferguson also pledged increased responsiveness and support to the general chairpersons’ concerns as the organization defends its membership and the SMART Constitution.

“We want to give you every tools — all the support you can get. You have my support, all my vice presidents and the staff,” Ferguson said. “You also have the state and national legislative department. You also have the Legal Department … Reach out. We’re here.”

Some of the support will come in increased educational efforts, he said. In addition to the annual regional meeting that the union puts together, more “mini-regionals” involving multiple locals will provide guidance on how to run local meetings, represent members and maintain local financial records will be held around the country.

“We’re going to start branching out and doing more of that,” Ferguson said.

Legislative directors from the states with bus general committees also attended the meeting in a show of solidarity.

Additional details about steps to be taken by the Bus Department going forward will be discussed by Vice President — Bus Calvin Studivant in a future edition of the Transportation Division News.

Members out in force in Kansas City

From left, Local 1409 Legislative Representative Dan Bonawitz Jr., TD Vice President Brent Leonard, Washington State Legislative Director Herb Krohn, TD President Jeremy Ferguson and Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo participate in an informational picket on Tuesday, Nov. 5, in Kansas City.

General President Joseph Sellers Jr. and TD President Jeremy Ferguson both participated in a town hall meeting and informational rally in Kansas City on Nov. 4 and 5 to draw attention to Union Pacific’s closure of the Neff Yard that resulted in about 200 lost jobs.

The event received local media coverage and was a success, said Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo.

“it was a great event,” Dragoo said. “We had over 170 members there. We’re definitely moving forward.”

More coverage of the event will be forthcoming.

TD President Ferguson announces receipt of carriers’ Section 6 notice

To SMART TD members whose carriers are in national handling:

Pursuant to the moratorium provision in the last national agreement, today was the first day the carriers were permitted to serve notice to open the next round of National Bargaining and negotiate a new agreement, and they have accordingly served us this morning.

As TD President, I wanted to let you know that we will be reviewing the carriers’ notice over the weekend. We will be responding to the carriers with our own Section 6 notice early next week. Our notice has been crafted and refined by our District 1 Rail General Chairpersons and the Section 6 committee awaiting the time to serve.

The carriers’ notice is linked for your review. The contents of their notice should not come as a surprise given the recent lawsuit filed regarding our crew-consist moratoriums. As usual, their notice contains unrealistic expectations of the outcome that they hope to achieve.

We will proudly be going into this national round of negotiations in solidarity not only with the BLET once again, but with an unprecedented group that includes the American Train Dispatchers Association, Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, International Association of Machinists, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, National Conference of Firemen & Oilers/SEIU, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Transport Workers Union of America, and the Transportation Communications Union. I look forward to standing shoulder to shoulder with BLET National President Dennis Pierce and the leadership of the other unions in our Coordinated Bargaining Coalition as we move ahead in this process.


In solidarity,




Jeremy R. Ferguson
President — Transportation Division

Rail union chiefs announce formation of Coordinated Bargaining Coalition

CLEVELAND, Ohio and WASHINGTON, D.C., (November 1, 2019) — Top leaders of 10 rail unions announced today that their organizations will be participating in coordinated bargaining in the round of national negotiations that began on Nov. 1, 2019. The unions comprising the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition are:

  • American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA)
  • Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen / Teamsters Rail Conference (BLET)
  • Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS)
  • International Association of Machinists (IAM)
  • International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB)
  • National Conference of Firemen & Oilers/SEIU (NCFO)
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)
  • Transport Workers Union of America (TWU)
  • Transportation Communications Union / IAM (TCU)
  • Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART TD)
  • The following statement was jointly issued by ATDA President Leo McCann, BLET National President Dennis Pierce, BRS President Jerry Boles, IAM General Vice President – Transportation Sito Pantoja, IBB Director of Railroad Lodge Services John Mansker, IBEW Railroad Department Director Bill Bohne, NCFO President John Thacker, SMART TD President Jeremy Ferguson, TWU Railroad Division Director John Feltz, and TCU National President Bob Scardelletti:

    “We are pleased to announce the creation of the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition as we are on the threshold of the most critical round of national bargaining in a generation. Our Coalition is founded on two key values that we all share. One is that we understand the importance of each Union’s autonomy to pursue membership-specific goals within a framework of broad solidarity to defend and improve the wages, benefits and working conditions of our members. The other is that we will spare no effort to defeat the attack by the railroads on the very foundation of our members’ economic security.”

    Jointly, the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition unions represent more than 105,000 railroad workers covered by the various organizations’ national agreements, and comprise over 80% of the workforce who will be impacted by this round of negotiations.

SMART TD, TTD ask nation’s trade representative to protect U.S. rail jobs

A letter co-signed by SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy R. Ferguson and AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department (TTD) President Larry Willis asked the United States’ chief trade representative to re-examine policies that leave American rail workers at a disadvantage.

The United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA), planned to be a trade pact to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), does not address certain issues covering cross-border traffic between Mexico and the U.S., the union leaders wrote.

Since 1931, Mexican railway companies have had a policy that they only employ Mexican rail workers. This policy has endured through the decades and was “enshrined” through NAFTA in the mid 1990s.

In the summer of 2018, Kansas City Southern began to allow Mexican crews to cross the U.S. border and operate within the country’s borders, drawing strong objections from both SMART TD and the TTD.

“Allowing workers from Mexico to operate in the United States while U.S. workers are prohibited from operating in Mexico is a direct and existential threat to the jobs of thousands of conductors and locomotive engineers represented by SMART TD,” the letter stated.

A reciprocal measure requiring U.S. crews to operate the trains was not included in the USMCA amid objections from the Mexican government, Ferguson and Willis stated.

“Without its inclusion, the agreement fails domestic rail workers and their sector, and further fails to uphold principles of parity between the U.S. and Mexico on the issue of rail service,” they wrote, calling upon Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to fix the disparity.

“SMART TD and TTD strongly agree with the Administration that NAFTA has failed working people and that the impacts of a trade agreement that was not written for their benefit are still being felt,” they stated. “We call on you to not abandon freight rail workers.”

Read the letter in its entirety (PDF).

When technology impedes your ability to do your job, we want to hear about it

For months now, your union has been collecting hundreds of reports from members of our and other rail unions that document instances when railroad technology doesn’t work as intended.

While carriers might see technology as a stepping-stone to more money and the eventual replacement of employees with full automation, we want to collect real-world data showing that sometimes these “improved” technologies are more of a stumbling block when not working as intended.

Data is being collected via a form on the SMART TD website directly linked at ( or look for the red flashing button on right of the main page, then follow that link to report incidences involving Positive Train Control, Trip Optimizer/LEADER, DPU (distributed power), EOT/HTD’s or radio transmission failures among crew members when dealing with long trains.

The real-world data that members contribute helps our organization to formulate a plan to protect members and the general public and to ensure the safety of the nation’s infrastructure, and this information is being sought on a voluntary basis, said Alternate National Legislative Director Jared Cassity, who helped to create the report form.

“The railroads like to tout there is no data to support that two-person crews are safer than a one-person crew. The irony, however, is that the counter-point to their argument is also true — there is no data to support that one-person crews are any safer than two-person crews either,” he said. “Over the years [they] have purposefully chosen to not collect the data, despite having the ability to do so, because they know the truth will hurt their position.”

The way to combat this is by gathering reports from the people who are dealing directly with the situations created when the technology does not function as intended, Cassity said.

“By members submitting this very important information we are able to provide the one thing the railroads cannot or will not — data,” Cassity said. “And that data proves these technological safety overlay systems are not capable of replacing the human element, specifically two-person crews.”

Reports submitted through this form go to union safety leadership for collection. The reports are not a substitute for filling out a report to a carrier or to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

“The railroads have fired the first shot in this round of the crew-consist war, and we need all hands on deck, everyone doing their part to complete these reports,” Cassity said. “This data may very well just be what makes the difference.”

Update on the facts of the crew consist lawsuit from President Ferguson

Brothers and sisters of the SMART Transportation Division,

I wanted to take this opportunity to explain what the crew consist lawsuit that has been filed in federal court in Texas is about. From the questions we have received, it appears that there is some confusion.

The lawsuit, filed on October 3, 2019, by BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Grand Trunk Western, Norfolk Southern, Illinois Central, Union Pacific, and the Belt Railway Company of Chicago, attempts to challenge the crew consist moratoriums of various local agreements and force the Organization to bargain over crew consist on a national level in this upcoming round of national negotiations. As a bit of background, when the crew consist agreements were negotiated, the carriers agreed to a “moratorium” on negotiating over this topic. Under the Railway Labor Act, a moratorium serves to bar negotiations over topics for a defined period of time. The carrier is now insisting that we arbitrate the meaning of the moratorium provisions.

This is not the first time that the carriers have attempted to challenge the crew consist agreements they have entered into over the years. It seems that in each round of bargaining they raise this issue anew. And in each round, they have lost the argument. Although we have not yet been served with the lawsuit, we are ready to defend our agreements.

Interestingly, the lawsuit was filed on the same day we were holding the Association of General Chairpersons District 1 meeting. When notified of the suit, all 56 General Chairpersons, without exception, pledged to act in solidarity as we embark on the upcoming round of National Railroad contract talks. The signing of the resolution is but one example of the inseparability that we will exhibit going forward as we negotiate.

I have attached the lawsuit for your review, and I will keep you apprised as matters develop. With all the various media avenues that can be full of misinformation, I feel that it is extremely important that our members be aware of the facts of the situation.

In solidarity,





Jeremy Ferguson
President — Transportation Division

SMART TD General Chairpersons resolve to act in solidarity in face of negotiations, lawsuit

SMART Transportation Division officers and attendees of the Association of General Chairpersons — District 1 conference stand together at the conclusion of the meeting on Oct. 3.

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Hours after a lawsuit by rail carriers targeting our union over crew consist was announced Oct. 3, the Association of General Chairpersons — District 1 unanimously resolved to act in solidarity.

The resolution states:

“In response to the Carriers’ attempts to undermine bargaining and divide us, we, the members of District 1, resolve to act in solidarity in every effort to protect our members and our rights under the Railway Labor Act.”

Every general chairperson in attendance signed the resolution as the meeting concluded.

Transportation Division President Jeremy Ferguson praised the leadership of the General Committees for a quick and unified response at the conclusion of the District 1 conference in the Cleveland area that also finalized the Section 6 notices that will trigger the beginning of the next round of National Rail Contract negotiations.

“As we progress forward into this negotiating period and beyond, solidarity among our membership at all levels everywhere will drive us as we overcome the challenges ahead,” Ferguson said. “This unanimous resolution shows at the outset that we stand together and will speak with one loud, clear voice.”

On Oct. 3, the National Railway Labor Conference (NRLC) filed a lawsuit in federal district court in the Northern District of Texas.

President Ferguson stated that this attempt to undermine our collective bargaining agreements was not unexpected.

“It is not the first time that carriers have attempted this tactic,” he said. “We are well prepared to respond.”

TD ready to respond as carriers once again attack crew consist

NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio (October 3, 2019) — Today, the nation’s Class I rail carriers, along with a few other railroads, filed suit in federal district court in the Northern District of Texas in an attempt to undermine our collective bargaining agreements as well as the bargaining process under the Railway Labor Act.

The suit, filed just ahead of the beginning of the next round of national handling scheduled to begin with the Section 6 notice filing November 1, asserts that the carriers’ position that “the existing moratoriums do not bar their crew-consist-related proposals” is a minor dispute subject to arbitration.

As detailed in their complaint, this is not the first time that the rail carriers have attempted an attack on crew consist. SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy Ferguson, noting the carriers’ history of unsuccessful attacks on crew consist, stated, “this latest attempt is nothing new, and it will once again be met with a vigorous defense.”

The suit, denoted as BNSF Railway et al, v, Internat’l Assn. of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers—Transportation Division, has not yet been served on the SMART Transportation Division.

This article will be updated.