WASHINGTON, D.C. — On April 20, union attorney Deirdre Hamilton was nominated by the president to serve on the National Mediation Board (NMB), the government body that facilitates labor-management relations in the aviation and rail industries. The 33-member union Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), which represents millions of workers across the aviation, rail and broader transportation sectors and of which the SMART Transportation Division is a member, urges the U.S. Senate to quickly confirm her appointment to the board.
“Deirdre Hamilton’s qualifications are impeccable, and it is clear she will bring to the NMB professionalism, integrity, and a deep commitment to the mission of the agency,” said Greg Regan, president of TTD. “We applaud the Biden administration for nominating someone with Ms. Hamilton’s depth of knowledge and experience, and who understands the critical role that the NMB plays for aviation and rail workers. We look forward to her swift confirmation by the Senate.”
If confirmed, Hamilton will bring more than 20 years of valuable expertise and know-how to the NMB. She has significant experience before the federal courts and the NMB on a wide range of legal issues including union elections, mediation, contract enforcement, and major and minor dispute claims, and has amassed an in-depth knowledge of the Railway Labor Act.
Regan further underscored the importance of Hamilton’s appointment to the NMB in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis.
“Our nation’s rail and aviation industries support good middle-class jobs that are critical to the economy and the mobility of Americans. These sectors and the jobs they create will be even more important as our country seeks to recover from COVID-19 in the coming months and years,” Regan said. “NMB members have an important role to play in protecting the rights of the frontline workers – a goal that we know Hamilton is committed to.”
Members and leaders of the SMART Transportation Division as well as the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department, spelled out why U.S. freight railroads’ obsession with Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) increases the danger to the public and railroad workers alike.
Journalist Aaron Gordon spoke with TD President Jeremy Ferguson and AFL-CIO TTD President Greg Regan about degradation in the safety culture of freight railroads because of PSR in an in-depth article published on March 22. “It’s going to end up like Boeing,” President Ferguson warned.
Gordon’s article touched upon many topics that our members are unfortunately already well aware of, including: the severe reduction of rail employees which has greatly impacted safe operations, the increase of fatigue associated with the same demanding work but with a reduced work force, the practice of railroads to have inspectors spend less time inspecting cars, the deferral of needed maintenance and potential safety issues being glossed over so that dwell time is not increased. It paints a very realistic and clear picture of how the railroads’ operating ratios and profits have been placed well ahead of safety and all in the name of PSR.
But by questing for those increased returns on Wall Street, the lessons learned from past operational mistakes could conceivably end up costing railroads in the long run, subjects interviewed in the article say.
Washington, D.C. – Greg Regan and Shari Semelsberger were unanimously elected today as President and Secretary-Treasurer, respectively, of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), by the organization’s Executive Committee. The SMART Transportation Division is a member of the TTD.
Regan started at TTD as a legislative representative in 2011, was elected secretary-treasurer in 2017, and subsequently re-elected to that role this past March. Semelsberger began her career with TTD in 1999, and for the past decade has served as the office administrator, overseeing much of TTD’s operations.
Their election, held virtually, follows the tragic and untimely death of former TTD President Larry Willis who, over a 20-year career, helped establish TTD’s policy leadership, and raised the bar for demanding and enforcing worker protections throughout our nation’s transportation system.
“Larry dedicated his life to the labor movement, working tirelessly to enhance the rights and livelihoods of those who build, operate, and maintain our transportation system. He helped shape many of the policies frontline workers benefit from today, including due process and labor protections that are now standard in federally funded infrastructure projects,” Regan said. “I am committed to carrying forward the work Larry started, and will fight to improve the lives of transportation workers. Along with our unions, I am eager to help steer transportation workers through the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, and look forward to working with the Biden administration to build back better once the pandemic is behind us.”
Transportation union leaders also unveiled the Larry Willis Leadership Award, which will be given annually to a public servant or community leader who demonstrates commitment, dedication, and advocacy on behalf of transportation workers.
“Millions of people have had their lives improved because of Larry’s work. We see it today in the legislation he helped shape, the policy makers he reached, the colleagues and staff he mentored and inspired, and the working people he dedicated his life to,” Semelsberger said. “The Larry Willis Leadership Award will ensure this legacy lives on by recognizing those who exemplify the work ethic, passion, and mission-driven focus that Larry brought to TTD every day.”
TTD’s Executive Committee also discussed their priorities — including federally mandated COVID-19 workplace protections, emergency transportation funding, and long-term infrastructure investment — with Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.
“We have an enormous opportunity in this critical moment to deliver for the American people,” said Secretary Buttigieg. “We need to build our economy back, better than ever, and the Department of Transportation will play a critical role in this by implementing President Biden’s infrastructure vision: revitalizing communities that have been left behind, tackling the climate crisis, and enabling American small businesses, workers and families to compete and win in the global economy. In all of this work, labor will be a key partner in our efforts to build a modern infrastructure that creates good union jobs.”