Posts Tagged ‘Anthony Simon’

In hard-hit NYC, TD members rise up to COVID challenges

What is SMART-TD on Long Island, N.Y., doing during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Sheet Metal Local 137 manufactured signs thanking TD members who continue to work on Long Island Rail Road through this pandemic. “Thanks to Dante Dano and Pete Scaglione,” said General Chairperson Anthony Simon. “They have been so supportive to the TD LIRR, I cannot express enough how we are all in this together.”
“Thank you to GC John McCloskey for his help and support in getting signs and with locations. The partnership is just unbelievable and appreciated,” Simon said. The reaction from the membership after the signs went up has been overwhelming

New York City and its bordering suburbs and counties have been among the hardest-hit in the nation by the coronavirus due to its density and the demands of the city’s economic engine driven by the financial and business districts.

Like most transportation systems, the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) has been deemed an essential service for health care workers, emergency responders, police officers, firefighters, city and state essential workers and countless other professions.

A Long Island Rail Road conductor works during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are some of the ways union leadership on Long Island and SMART members continue to deliver.

  • While required to continue working, tremendous safety efforts have been achieved through the issuance of proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), manpower manipulations to allow for social distancing, constant disinfecting efforts to protect work locations, paid administrative sick leave to accommodate the hundreds of positive tested members and associated quarantines, and so many additional safety precautions to protect workers.
  • Members have been working around the clock cleaning and sanitizing over 1,000 train cars on an aggressive schedule, and our maintenance of equipment workers are continuing to inspect and repair our equipment to all of the standards outlined by federal authorities.
  • Engineering forces in the track and building and bridge ranks are continuing to build and maintain the system during this health crisis. Huge projects such as the over $11 billion East Side Access project to allow service to New York City’s Grand Central Station in addition to three other major city terminals continue. The mainline third track expansion continues along the central corridor of Long Island to add to the over 700 miles of track and 124 stations.
  • Front-line train crews are continuing to provide a modified essential service plan requiring flexibility, dedication and sacrifice working in vulnerable conditions. They are providing safe service and collecting whatever fares possible as safely as they can during the pandemic.
  • Union officials are providing administrative support to the varying work locations hit hardest by the virus to ensure crew dispatching, payroll and PPE issuance are all expedited appropriately.
  • After more than 60 COVID-19-related deaths at the MTA, the governing agency of the LIRR, SMART leadership has negotiated an additional $500,000 death benefit package to include health benefits for the beneficiary of any COVID-19 related deaths within our membership.
  • Union leadership has worked closely with agency heads and management to provide whatever benefits possible during this extremely troubling time, such as priority COVID testing, relaxed and paid sick leave rules, relaxed time keeping and travel arrangements, etc.
  • Union leadership is lobbying for additional federal funding needed to recoup billions of dollars of revenue lost during this crippling time.
  • General Chairperson Anthony Simon has worked closely with General Chairperson John McCloskey on the mechanical side in achieving protections and benefits for all SMART workers.

Long Island Rail Road workers pose for a picture after cleaning a car during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those are some of the collective efforts of GCA-505 in Babylon, N.Y., which represents SMART-TD’s workers on LIRR in a region hit hard by the coronavirus with tens of thousands of deaths reported there.

But the GCA’s leaders insist it’s just what they do, and what members expect from them.

“During catastrophic times is when leaders need to step up, lead and not hide,” said Vice General Chairperson Vinnie Tessitore. “Under General Chairperson Anthony Simon’s leadership, and through a dedicated team of union officials, we are out front making tough decisions and demands to secure and protect our workforce.”

Simon, also a SMART-TD alternate vice president, said it has taken a total team effort and cooperation from all to continue to endure the challenges of the coronavirus.

“I could not be prouder of our elected union officials and our membership for their hard work and sacrifices during this pandemic,” Simon said. “I am out in the field every day with our railroad family as they continue to work through this crisis, and my foot will remain on the gas to achieve what they have earned for their heroic efforts.”

Long Island Rail Road workers tend to the track during the coronavirus pandemic.

SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy Ferguson said that those efforts are shining through by protecting both employee and public alike and minimizing disruption.

“It’s a relief to finally receive some good news! On a normal day and in normal times, SMART-TD’s members and leadership in the New York City/New Jersey area have demands placed on them that often can exceed those of other metropolitan areas just because of the size of the agencies we serve and the population, but as always, our SMART-TD membership and our officers on the LIRR never cease to amaze me.” Ferguson said. “They are the toughest and most resilient Brotherhood that, I, too, am so very proud to have the opportunity to work with and represent as President of the Transportation Division. SMART-TD on the LIRR is leading the way on every front and thankfully giving the membership a solid footing to defend themselves from this disaster.

“Anthony Simon and Vinnie Tessitore have stepped up to make sure LIRR keeps trains clean and running for public and the workers alike so that what is considered ‘essential’ stays running. They’re an example of what solidarity can do — for all of labor to see. I do want everyone to know we’re with you in this, and we will all be there together to the end.”

Newsday article remembers retired member Brzozinski

Richard Brzozinski, 78, is remembered as a compassionate man and model employee of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) in a recent story by Newsday.

“A veteran Long Island Rail Road conductor on the Babylon line, Brzozinski made a habit of learning the names of all of his regular passengers and their spouses. He’d arrive to work every morning in a freshly pressed uniform. And Brzozinski would always ensure that a seat was saved for his elderly passengers,” Robert Brodsky of Newsday wrote.

The story further gives accounts of praise from passengers who wrote to MTA about Brzozinski and recounts two separate incidences where Brzozinski was called upon to save passengers’ lives with the use of CPR.

SMART-TD Alternate Vice President Anthony Simon is quoted, saying, “Richie was always a professional and always demanded perfection from his co-workers. He wore his uniform impeccably and made sure his crew members did the same. He prioritized the safety and service to our customers, led by example, and received the respect of everyone he overlapped because of those principles.”

Brother Brzozinski began his membership with UTU Local 645 (Babylon, N.Y.) in August 1961, following in his dad’s footsteps as a conductor for the LIRR. He worked for a time with his father John and younger brother Jack (retired LIRR engineer). He retired with 38 years of service in 1999.

Brzozinski died in his home Nov. 19, 2019, after a three-year battle with heart disease. He is survived by his wife Mary; two sons; brother Jack; sisters Joanne, Linda and Sharon; and two grandchildren Jack and Jenna.

Click here to read the full story from Newsday.

Services scheduled for niece of Alt. VP Anthony Simon

Jennifer Diaz, niece of SMART TD Alternate Vice President and General Chairperson Anthony Simon (GO-505), passed away recently, and memorial arrangements have been finalized.

Visitation is scheduled 4 to 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 25 at Frederick J. Chapey & Sons Funeral Home, 20 Hicksville Road, Bethpage, N.Y., 11714.

A memorial service will take place 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 26 at St. Martin of Tours Roman Catholic Church, 220 Central Ave., Bethpage, N.Y., 11714 with a funeral to follow at St. Charles Cemetery.

SMART TD NJT workers ratify contract

njtransit2We are pleased to announce that SMART TD members on New Jersey Transit have ratified a new collective bargaining agreement.

Steve Burkert, SMART TD general chairperson; and Doyle Turner, SMART TD vice president; led the fight for a fair and equitable agreement while withstanding the unreasonable demands of NJT. After two Presidential Emergency Boards and numerous negotiating sessions, the SMART TD negotiating team reached an agreement that was overwhelmingly ratified by our members on NJT.

SMART TD President John Previsich said: “I want to commend General Chairperson Steve Burkert, SMART TD Vice President Doyle Turner, Alternate Vice President Anthony Simon and all of the members of the negotiating team for their efforts in bringing this round of negotiations to a satisfactory conclusion. The negotiating team, led by GC Burkert, was instrumental in carrying the wishes of our NJT members to the negotiating table and it is through their efforts that we were able to reach an agreement that was ratified by an overwhelming majority vote. It’s been a long battle for the New Jersey Transit members and now they will receive the wages and benefits to which they are entitled. This is a tremendous victory for NJT SMART TD members, and for our union brothers and sisters across the country.”

General Chairperson Burkert said: “It’s been a long, drawn-out process and I’m thrilled for my members and their families that we were successful in reaching an agreement that provides for financial stability going forward, especially during this very tough political time. I want to express my appreciation to the entire membership for their solidarity and support through this very difficult round of negotiations.”

LIRR contract approved by SMART, seven unions

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Simon

The members of Long Island Rail Road General Committee of Adjustment GO 505 have ratified a new agreement with LIRR management by a 97 percent margin, General Chairperson Anthony Simon reports.

It is the largest margin of approval for a contract in the general committee’s history.

Simon also said the approval rate for the eight-union coalition withstood together in bargaining with the LIRR was 95 percent.

Simon thanked SMART General President Joseph Nigro, General Secretary-Treasurer Joe Sellers and Transportation Division President John Previsich for their financial and material support and counsel.

“This shows with the support of our International and our membership, there is nothing we can not accomplish. I thank President Nigro for giving me the opportunity to speak at the first SMART Convention and for recognizing our delegates and our members on LIRR,” Simon said.

“This truly shows the unity in our merged unions and what we can achieve standing shoulder to shoulder in solidarity.

“A special ‘thank you’ goes to my entire committee for there tireless work in such a huge fight. My committee is the best committee I could ever ask for and I am very fortunate to have this team.

“To our members, I asked you to stand with me and trust me and said I would fight to the end to get them a contract they deserve and earned, and our members stepped up, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

“I will never stop fighting for the most professional and hard working members.”

The vote concluded more than four years of battling with New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority during a difficult and highly publicized contract dispute.

The MTA had been seeking net zero wage increases, major pension reform, large health care contributions, work rule give-backs and excessive concessions for new hires.

The settlement provided in excess of 18 percent of compounded wage increases over six-and-a-half years. Certification pay was achieved in the amount of $10 per day worked as a conductor and a modest two percent health and welfare contribution was accepted, based on a straight week’s pay. Minor adjustments were made for new hires that extended their requirement to pay four percent toward their pension for five additional years and their current wage progression was extended by just two years. Not a single work rule was compromised.

LIRR union coalition forced to set strike time

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Simon

International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Long Island Rail Road General Chairperson Anthony Simon has issued the following statement on the deteriorating labor situation at the commuter railroad:

“I regret to report that negotiations have collapsed with New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority and all eight unions are now proceeding with strike plans for July 20.

“MTA rejected the counter offer we presented last Thursday (July 10). It presented no counter proposal. It continues to insist that the unions agree to a contract worth less than the value of the compromise recommendations of two Presidential Emergency Boards 244 and 245.

“MTA has clearly decided that provoking a strike is the course of action it intends to pursue. No further negotiations are scheduled.

“The strike will begin at 12:01 a.m. this Sunday (July 20). Riders should be aware that service will begin winding down well before then, perhaps as early as Wednesday (July 16), as the railroad needs to secure its equipment.

“The strike will be limited to Long Island Rail Road. It will not affect Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, Metro-North Railroad or PATH rail operations. Joint entrances will not be picketed.

Make no mistake about it. The timing of this strike, with its devastating impact on Long Island’s summer season, is MTA’s decision. The unions repeated our offer to agree to the requests of the New York Congressional delegation, area residents and businesses to delay the strike until September. MTA would not agree.

“The onus of this deadlock is solely on MTA. Two boards of renowned and experienced arbitrators have recommended a fair compromise settlement. We are willing to accept the recommendations. MTA is not. MTA admitted to us that they know that historically, the PEB recommendations are the basis for settlement. They told us they understand that the only way they can break this historical precedent is to take a strike. That is the course that they have chosen.”

Anthony Simon, SMART LIRR GO 505 General Chairperson and Union Coalition spokesperson

LIRR union negotiations end abruptly Friday

A hostile bargaining session between the MTA and Long Island Rail Road labor leaders broke off in less than two hours early Friday with no deal in place and union officials saying a July 20 strike is more likely than ever.

“Here we go,” Christopher Natale, general chairman of the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, said after leaving the bargaining session, which lasted about 90 minutes. “Unless something happens at the eleventh hour, we’re preparing for a strike.”

Read the complete story at Newsday.

SMART offers to postpone LIRR strike until Sept.

The LIRR unions’ chief negotiator says he wants to make a deal with the MTA that would delay a possible July strike until after Labor Day – sparing Long Island’s summer tourism business and buying more time to negotiate a contract settlement.

Although the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it has yet to receive a formal proposal, an MTA source who spoke on condition of anonymity said earlier this week the agency would be interested in an agreement to stave off a potential walkout by Long Island Rail Road workers in about seven weeks that could strand 300,000 daily riders.

Read the complete story at Newsday.

PEB 245: 'LIRR unions' offer most reasonable'

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Presidential Emergency Board 245 determined May 20 that “the Unions’ final offer is the most reasonable” in the four-year-old bargaining dispute between the International Association of Sheet, Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers and its allied unions and the Long Island Rail Road.

The PEB report sets in motion a final 60-day cooling off period. If no agreement is reached during that time, SMART and the other unions can strike on July 19 under provisions of the Railway Labor Act.

Under the RLA’s special 9A provisions for disputes involving commuter railroads, if the parties do not reach agreement after a first PEB issues its recommendations, a second PEB is convened to decide which side’s final offer is the most reasonable.

On Dec. 21, 2013, PEB 244 recommended a six-year contract with 17.9 percent in compounded wage increases. The board also recommended that employees begin paying health insurance premiums that reduced the net value of the proposed contract to 2.5 percent per year. The board rejected Long Island Rail Road’s proposal for sweeping pension, work rule, and other concessions.

In its report, the board notes that “the lack of notice and bargaining on substantial issues in the Carrier’s final offer is of significant concern … The Unions’ final offer, on the other hand, represents a reasonable balance addressing the priorities of both parties … It is noteworthy that the Unions’ assertion that real wage increases for LIRR employees, absent inflation, have not increased at all since 1991, was not challenged by the Carrier.”

“A strong union requires strong members,” said SMART General President Joseph Nigro. “The courage and fortitude these members exhibited shows that there is nothing stronger than the solidarity that comes when working families are united. They are proof of that.

“SMART will provide all the resources needed to ensure an agreement worthy of ratification by these members is produced. They have fought for and deserve every advance they make and will make in the future.”

“Our members on LIRR, led by General Chairperson Anthony Simon, are to be commended for their resolve in seeking the fair and equitable agreement to which they are entitled,” said SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich. “From the very beginning, SMART advised all concerned that management’s offer of a substandard contract was unacceptable and that we would not hold back in our efforts to obtain a just agreement.

“Throughout negotiations and mediation, our position was firm and consistent and management refused to listen. Now that our position is validated by both Presidential Emergency Board 244 and again with PEB 245, it is time for this issue to be resolved. We will not rest until our members receive the agreement that they deserve.”

SMART, along with its coalition partners Transportation Communications Union, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers-Service Employees International Union, submitted the recommendations of the first board to PEB 245 as its final offer.

MTA, which conducted the bargaining for Long Island Rail Road, rejected PEB 244’s recommendations as a basis for settlement. Instead, MTA proposed as its final offer what it claimed was equivalent value to a deal it reached on April 17, 2014, four days before PEB 245 hearings began, with Transport Workers Union Local 100 representing 35,000 New York City Transit Authority workers. The offer was for 11 percent in wage increases over six years, with a 2 percent employee contribution to health insurance, major pension concessions, and a new, reduced-rate progression for new employees.

PEB 245 decisively ruled for the unions. The three-member panel, comprised of renowned arbitrators Joshua Javits, David Vaughn and Elizabeth Wesman, wrote, “The Unions’ final offer … represents a reasonable balance addressing the priorities of both parties.”

In rejecting MTA’s final offer, the board found that there were no consistencies with any comparisons made by the MTA, and the lack of detail to any comparables did not prove that their final offer was reasonable. As PEB 244 noted, state employee agreements have virtually never constituted valid comparators or patterns for commuter railroads. The labor markets, skills, history, and operations are completely different.

SMART Transportation Division Alternate Vice President and General Chairperson Anthony Simon, spokesman for the SMART, TCU, IAM and NCFO-SEIU coalition, called upon MTA “to accept reality and sign the PEB-recommended contract immediately.”

“Our members and all the hard working men and women on the Long Island Rail Road have waited long enough. We sincerely hope MTA will not stick to its twice-rejected position. We are fully prepared to strike on July 19 if MTA continues to stonewall the process,” Simon said.

To read the complete report of PEB 245, click here.

PEB 245: ‘LIRR Unions’ Offer Most Reasonable’

Presidential Emergency Board 245 determined May 20 that “the Unions’ final offer is the most reasonable” in the four-year-old bargaining dispute between the International Association of Sheet, Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers and its allied unions and the Long Island Rail Road.

The PEB report sets in motion a final 60-day cooling off period. If no agreement is reached during that time, SMART and the other unions can strike on July 19 under provisions of the Railway Labor Act.

Under the RLA’s special 9A provisions for disputes involving commuter railroads, if the parties do not reach agreement after a first PEB issues its recommendations, a second PEB is convened to decide which side’s final offer is the most reasonable.

On Dec. 21, 2013, PEB 244 recommended a six-year contract with 17.9 percent in compounded wage increases. The board also recommended that employees begin paying health insurance premiums that reduced the net value of the proposed contract to 2.5 percent per year. The board rejected Long Island Rail Road’s proposal for sweeping pension, work rule, and other concessions.

In its report, the board notes that “the lack of notice and bargaining on substantial issues in the Carrier’s final offer is of significant concern … The Unions’ final offer, on the other hand, represents a reasonable balance addressing the priorities of both parties … It is noteworthy that the Unions’ assertion that real wage increases for LIRR employees, absent inflation, have not increased at all since 1991, was not challenged by the Carrier.”

“A strong union requires strong members,” said SMART General President Joseph Nigro. “The courage and fortitude these members exhibited shows that there is nothing stronger than the solidarity that comes when working families are united. They are proof of that.

“SMART will provide all the resources needed to ensure an agreement worthy of ratification by these members is produced. They have fought for and deserve every advance they make and will make in the future.”

“Our members on LIRR, led by General Chairperson Anthony Simon, are to be commended for their resolve in seeking the fair and equitable agreement to which they are entitled,” said SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich. “From the very beginning, SMART advised all concerned that management’s offer of a substandard contract was unacceptable and that we would not hold back in our efforts to obtain a just agreement.

“Throughout negotiations and mediation, our position was firm and consistent and management refused to listen. Now that our position is validated by both Presidential Emergency Board 244 and again with PEB 245, it is time for this issue to be resolved. We will not rest until our members receive the agreement that they deserve.”

SMART, along with its coalition partners Transportation Communications Union, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers-Service Employees International Union, submitted the recommendations of the first board to PEB 245 as its final offer.

MTA, which conducted the bargaining for Long Island Rail Road, rejected PEB 244’s recommendations as a basis for settlement. Instead, MTA proposed as its final offer what it claimed was equivalent value to a deal it reached on April 17, 2014, four days before PEB 245 hearings began, with Transport Workers Union Local 100 representing 35,000 New York City Transit Authority workers. The offer was for 11 percent in wage increases over six years, with a 2 percent employee contribution to health insurance, major pension concessions, and a new, reduced-rate progression for new employees.

PEB 245 decisively ruled for the unions. The three-member panel, comprised of renowned arbitrators Joshua Javits, David Vaughn and Elizabeth Wesman, wrote, “The Unions’ final offer … represents a reasonable balance addressing the priorities of both parties.”

In rejecting MTA’s final offer, the board found that there were no consistencies with any comparisons made by the MTA, and the lack of detail to any comparables did not prove that their final offer was reasonable. As PEB 244 noted, state employee agreements have virtually never constituted valid comparators or patterns for commuter railroads. The labor markets, skills, history, and operations are completely different.

SMART Transportation Division Alternate Vice President and General Chairperson Anthony Simon, spokesman for the SMART, TCU, IAM and NCFO-SEIU coalition, called upon MTA “to accept reality and sign the PEB-recommended contract immediately.”

“Our members and all the hard working men and women on the Long Island Rail Road have waited long enough. We sincerely hope MTA will not stick to its twice-rejected position. We are fully prepared to strike on July 19 if MTA continues to stonewall the process,” Simon said.

To read the complete report of PEB 245, click here.

Second PEB sides with LIRR unions

A White House-appointed mediation panel Tuesday rejected an MTA proposal for a Long Island Rail Road union contract for the second time, calling labor leaders’ offer of a 17 percent, six-year pact a “reasonable” solution.

In its nonbinding recommendation issued last evening, the three-member Presidential Emergency Board 245 called the LIRR unions’ proposal for the contract and, for the first time, employee health benefit contributions “a reasonable balance addressing the priorities of both parties.”

Read the complete story at Newsday.

Proposal For LIRR Workers ‘Unacceptable,’ Unions Say

Long Island Rail Road unions left the meeting of Presidential Emergency Board 245 more united than ever in their quest for a fair contract.
The unions submitted a proposed contract that followed the recommendations of the PEB 244, which called for modest net annual increases of 2.5 percent.
The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority submitted an offer they claim was patterned after the tentative deal reached last week with TWU Local 100, but in reality, it fell far short, the union coalition reports.
The coalition is comprised of SMART Transportation Division General Committee of Adjustment GO 505, the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers SEIU 32BJ, the Transportation Communications Union and the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers.
“It is truly unfortunate that at this late stage, MTA would submit an offer that they know will guarantee a strike if it is selected,” said SMART General Chairperson Anthony Simon. “Their proposal would reduce real wages and effectively eliminate the pension plan for new hires. It is absolutely unacceptable.”
“The MTA is not telling the truth when it characterizes the unions’ position. We have never said that if we don’t get everything we want, there will be a strike. What we are saying loud and clear is that the MTA’s lowball offer, far below the real value of Transport Workers Union Local 100’s deal, will definitely provoke a strike if it was submitted to our membership for ratification.”
The MTA offer, though purportedly following the contours of Local 100’s agreement, actually omitted most of the value of that deal.
“If the MTA offer to us was submitted to the Local 100 membership, it would go down in flames,” Simon said.
The union coalition presented expert testimony showing that the agency could afford the unions’ proposal without raising fares. In fact, MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast testified that MTA was funding the Local 100 deal out of the same LIRR fund that the unions testified were available to the first board, but which MTA said they couldn’t use. It also tapped a fund for LIRR workers’ pensions.
The MTA proposal to PEB 245 omitted almost all of the benefit gains achieved by Local 100. In their place, MTA offered less than 75 percent of their actual value, according to Local 100 officials. MTA offered no evidence to support its valuations of their proposal.
On pensions, MTA proposed that LIRR workers pay more than 9 percent of their salary, where Local 100 members would pay on average 3.5 percent for a pension payment of substantially less value. New hire salaries would be slashed far beyond the modest changes in the tentative Local 100 deal.
“We are shocked that MTA would come before the PEB with a proposal so far below the fair recommendations of the first Presidential Emergency Board, as well as what they agreed to with Local 100 and the MTA police. Their proposal fails the test of reasonableness, and cannot be the basis of a voluntary settlement,” Simon said.