Previsich: 'We achieved great things in 2014'

Published: February 25, 2015

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Previsich

By John Previsich, 
SMART Transportation Division President – 

On behalf of the officers and staff of the SMART Transportation Division, I will take this opportunity to thank our members and their families for all of their efforts in 2014 and to extend our best wishes for a safe and prosperous 2015. I am grateful for the support received from our delegates at the Transportation Division convention in San Diego and for the team of officers that were elected to serve this organization in the coming years.

As we look forward to continued progress in 2015, I want to first recognize the achievements and changes realized in our organization last year. First and foremost is the integration of the former UTU Constitution and the former SMWIA Constitution into the SMART Constitution, a complicated and time-consuming process that was concluded satisfactorily when approved by the delegates to the unified First SMART Convention in August. The new SMART Constitution is the guiding document for our union and the importance of a satisfactory consolidation cannot be over emphasized. Many thanks are owed to the General and TD officers and staff who dedicated their efforts over many meetings and months to reach a final outcome beneficial to all.

In addition to finalizing our new constitution, the delegates at both the TD Convention and the SMART Convention in August took action to prepare our organization for 2015 and beyond. We all know that effective representation is key to the continued success of our union, and the delegates approved initiatives to expand the ranks of the TD officer staff to include the addition of a second Bus Department vice president. This was done because our Bus Department is growing and we welcome the assistance that a new, full-time representative can provide to the organization. We now have additional help in organizing, contract-negotiating and grievance-handling matters.

Another key aspect of building for the future is a successful organizing effort and 2014 was an exceptionally good year for our Organizing Department. Their success, with assistance from the SMART Organizing Department and general committee, state legislative and local officers, has increased our membership significantly and we expect that trend to continue throughout 2015.

During 2014, the employees of at least four new bus properties chose SMART representation, along with those of seven shortline railroad properties. As noted in this issue of the newspaper, SMART recently was selected as the collective-bargaining representative by employees of Alliance Terminal Railroad, a rail property managed by OmniTRAX. The company manages more than a dozen shortline railroad properties throughout the United States and this is just the first of those to say, “We want your representation.” Our organizing success can be attributed in large part to our reputation for effective representation and 2014 was no exception. Our union reached agreements and received favorable arbitration awards on properties large and small all over the country. Especially noteworthy, significant and high profile successes were achieved in all three divisions of the transportation side of the organization.

First, members employed by the Long Island Rail Road approved a new agreement with the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority following two Presidential Emergency Boards and a strenuous, near-strike state of affairs. Next, the members of our largest Bus Department general committee in Los Angeles approved a new contract with the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Last and by no means least, our pilots employed by Great Lakes Aviation reached a new pact with management after a nearly three-year-long dispute, with assistance from the National Mediation Board.

Our reputation in reaching new agreements on rail, air and bus properties throughout the country is often mentioned by workers at newly organized properties as a key factor when they select the Transportation Division as their representative.

In 2015, we will initiate national negotiations with the rail industry. The national negotiating team, identified elsewhere in this newspaper, represents a mix of crafts, knowledge, age and experience unmatched in the industry. Rest assured that this team will do everything possible to achieve the favorable outcome that our members deserve. Our team, working in solidarity with five other unions, has already scheduled meetings with the carriers reaching into the summer and we look forward to working with the National Carriers’ Conference Committee to reach an agreement gainful to all.

Finally, our Legislative Department will continue efforts to defend our members’ interests inside the beltway of Washington and in every state house in the continental United States. The recent state and federal elections reinforced the need for a strong and effective legislative department. The push for national two-person crew legislation is continuing and our National Legislative Office in Washington is working with our state legislative directors in obtaining similar laws on the books at the state level. Read more about those efforts on the following page.

As noted in this and previous publications, the Transportation Division will resume its regional meetings in 2015. Please use these opportunities to educate yourself to assist your fellow members and build new relationships within the labor community. I look forward to meeting all members and officers at these events.

Let’s make 2015 a year to remember.