Posts Tagged ‘call to action’

More testimony needed in a fifth hearing on Ohio rail safety bill H.B. 186

State Legislative Director Stu Gardner reports that an additional round of testimony has been scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, in House Hearing Room 114 in the Ohio Statehouse, 1 Capitol Square in Columbus, regarding H.B. 186, a comprehensive railroad safety bill under consideration in the state’s House of Representatives.

Only proponents of the bill who have not given testimony previously are eligible to state their case for this important legislation that will protect lives and preserve the safety of railroad operations in Ohio.

“Testimony is to be given by those persons (or groups) that have not testified on H.B. 186 previously,” Gardner said. “I am requesting that if you have not given testimony previously, or wish to add new testimony that you have not given before on H.B. 186, now is the time to do so.”

Gardner, rail safety legal expert Larry Mann, members of the Ohio State Legislative Board, SMART-TD members and representatives from the BLET have provided testimony in favor of this legislation, which covers the following safety issues:

  • Two-person freight train crews
  • Proper walkways in railroad yard safety legislation
  • Railroad yard lighting safety legislation
  • Blocked crossings

In an email to members, Gardner indicated that the rail carriers requested a fifth hearing (Ohio bills typically receive three committee hearings before being voted upon for advancement to the full state House) due to Mann’s strong proponent testimony delivered Nov. 19.

However, more TD members and others concerned about railroad safety need to step up and be heard, and this fifth hearing could be the last chance to convince representatives that H.B. 186 deserves passage.

“It is up to all of our advocates of the Ohio State Legislative Board and the SMART Transportation Division to step up and let these committee members hear the truth one more time,” Gardner said. “Please come and fill the hearing room, give testimony and show these representatives what we are made of.”

The bill is sponsored by Ohio Reps. Mike Sheehy, a retired rail worker and member of the SMART TD Alumni Association, and Brent Hillyer.

Proponent testimony must be provided to Matthew Taylor in Committee Chairman Doug Green’s office (Matthew.Taylor@ohiohouse.gov.) with the deadline for electronic submission of both written and in-person testimony and a witness slip being 3 p.m. Dec. 9, the Monday before the hearing. On the day of the hearing, witnesses have the option of presenting their testimony in person before the committee if they have submitted the testimony and required witness slip by the deadline.

Instructions for those wishing to testify before the committee:

Prior to committee:

  • The House Transportation and Public Safety Committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday mornings at 11 a.m. in House Hearing Room 114 in the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus.
  • Testimony is to be electronically submitted to the chairman’s office by 3 p.m. Monday afternoon.
  • A witness slip (fillable PDF) is to be completed prior to the committee meeting and should also be submitted electronically to the chairman’s office.
  • Testimony and the witness slip can be submitted at the same time and there is no need to send multiple emails.
  • Materials may be submitted to Matthew Taylor in Green’s Office at (Matthew.Taylor@ohiohouse.gov.)

Day of committee:

  • Folks may arrive any time before the committee hearing begins.
  • There is no need to check in with staff so long as testimony was submitted properly.
  • Attendees may take a seat in the audience.
  • As committee begins, the chairman will announce the hearing of bills. As testimony begins on H.B. 186, the chairman will call each individual up by the name submitted on the witness slip.
  • After testimony has been given, the individual may remain in the committee room for the duration of the hearing.

Instructions for those wishing to submit written-only testimony:

  • Written-only testimony is for those who may not be able to attend the committee hearing to testify in person, or for those who may want to attend committee but do not wish to verbally testify.

Written-only testimony:

  • Testimony is to be electronically submitted to the Chairman’s Office by 3 p.m. Monday afternoon, the day before the scheduled hearing.
  • The witness slip is to be completed prior to the committee hearing and should also be submitted electronically to the Chairman’s Office.
  • Testimony and the witness slip can be submitted at the same time, and there is no need to send multiple emails.
  • Materials may be submitted to Matthew Taylor in Chairman Doug Green’s Office at (Matthew.Taylor@ohiohouse.gov.)

Call to Action: Ohio House committee to hold first hearing on rail safety bill

Ohio State Legislative Director Stu Gardner requests that members from his state show their support for H.B. 186, a comprehensive rail safety bill that is receiving its first hearing in the Ohio Legislature on Tuesday, June 18.

Ohio Reps. Brent Hillyer and Michael Sheehy, who is a retired SMART TD member and a member of the TD Alumni Association, will introduce the bill at 11 a.m. to the House Transportation Committee in Room 114 at the statehouse in Columbus.

The bill covers:

  1. Two-person freight train crews
  2. Common-sense safe walkways within rail yards
  3. Common-sense illumination of rail yards
  4. Blocked crossings that obstruct and delays emergency vehicles

“An overwhelming show of support is our goal,” Gardner said. “Show those members of the Transportation Committee that we care and are serious about our safety, and the safety of the communities the we work in and pass through.”

Time for Minnesota members to take action after 2PC passes state House

SMART Transportation Division Minnesota State Legislative Director Phillip Qualy reports that two-person crew legislation has passed in his state’s House of Representatives as part of H.F. 1555, an omnibus transportation bill, and that a push by members and retirees alike will be needed to get it through the state Senate to the governor.

The bill passed Monday, April 29, by a 74-52 party-line vote and now moves on to the Minnesota Senate’s Transportation Conference Committee. Section 93 of the bill contains a provision setting a minimum crew size for freight trains operating in the state. H.F. 1555 also contains other important rail safety provisions, including Section 90, which set forth the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s enforcement of state safety regulations and maintenance of way track equipment crossing protections.

“The outcome of that conference committee will most likely determine whether minimum train crew language is passed into law,” Qualy said.

Qualy said that the effort of every SMART TD member and retiree in Minnesota is necessary to pass this important legislation to keep the state’s communities safe. Members, retirees and their friends and family are encouraged to call or email their state senators to talk about the important public safety aspects and assistance to first responders that two-person crews provide on the state’s rails in the case of a railroad emergency. A list of key senators to be contacted appears below.

“We need all railroad workers standing together in support of this legislation,” he said. “We need our members at the capitol. Please make your calls and emails today.”

Members of the Minnesota State Senate who should be contacted include:

The original H.F. 286, a standalone bill that sets a minimum crew size, remains on the House floor.

Georgia: Let’s get our two-person crew bill moving!

Georgia State Legislative Director Matt Campbell reports that his two-person crew bill (H.B.190) has been held up by a subcommittee and that the efforts of members are needed to get the bill to a vote.

He asks that Georgia members take a minute or two to send an email announcing your support for the legislation.

Campbell testified last week in support of the legislation that requires two people on freight train crews as well as a defibrillator in the cab. Campbell’s testimony was covered by an Atlanta radio station.

“We put up a good fight,” Campbell said. “But we weren’t allowed a vote … yet!”

Despite the subcommittee’s inaction, the bill can be brought to a vote by Georgia Transportation Committee Chairman Kevin Tanner, but he needs to hear from SMART TD members, family and friends in the state.

“The safety of railroad operations affect all Georgians; especially, those who live, work, or learn near a railroad line,” Campbell said. “Our state should not gamble with public safety, the stakes are too high.”

Click here to read Campbell’s full testimony.

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.

COLORADO MEMBERS: Your testimony is needed to fight Right to Work For Less bill

SMART Transportation Division Colorado State Legislative Director Carl Smith reports that legislators in his state are again considering a Right to Work For Less bill.

This is the second time in two years that politicians are attempting to undermine the right to union representation in that state, Smith said. The bill, this time known as HB18-1030 “Prohibit Discrimination Labor Union Participation,” is scheduled to be heard in the Colorado House State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 24.

“Last year, we were able to provide excellent testimony and pack the room to defeat this bad legislation and send a strong statement on our thoughts about the bill,” Smith said.

Smith again asks members to unite to provide a strong turnout in opposition to this attack and is seeking SMART TD members in his state to testify before the committee in Denver.

To sign up, visit this link: https://goo.gl/forms/JhLmxn5Q9h4Dycyr2 or email Smith at ColoSMARTUnion@gmail.com.

The goal of this type of legislation ultimately is to reduce your wages – to take money out of your pocket and to further line the pocketbooks of businesses at your expense. Right to Work For Less bills are falsely portrayed by their corporate-friendly backers as anti-discriminatory or as preserving individual rights. In reality, this kind of legislation is a thinly-veiled attempt to bust unions, to jeopardize union members’ livelihoods by making workplaces more dangerous and to maximize business profits by paying you less.

In 2008, Colorado voters were on our side and overwhelmingly rejected a ballot initiative that tried to install Right to Work For Less legislation in the state.
But since then, Smith said, misguided anti-union legislators have continued to introduce Right To Work For Less bills.

In this latest attempt, Colorado Rep. Justin Everett and state Sen. Tim Neville, both Republicans, are the primary sponsors. Everett’s office phone number is 303-866-2927. Neville’s is 303-866-4873.

Ten additional representatives and two additional senators also are signed on as sponsors of HB18-1030.

The representatives are Perry Buck, Stephen Humphrey, Timothy Leonard, Kimmi Lewis, Patrick Neville, Kim Ransom, Lori Saine, Kevin Van Winkle, Dave Williams and Cole Wist.

The senators are Chris Holbert and Vicki Marble.

Once we have come together to crush this legislative attack on our union and others, SMART TD members in Colorado are encouraged to remember this betrayal and to vote accordingly the next time they see these politicians’ names on the ballot.