Posts Tagged ‘Holiday message’

Remembering Martin Luther King’s legacy

Today, every member of the SMART union will take time, in conjunction with our entire nation, to honor and remember the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

King’s brilliance, vision, leadership and ultimate personal sacrifice shifted the course of the history of our nation by shedding light and bringing hope to a nation marred by racism, ignorance and inequality.

“Dr. King understood that social justice and economic freedom go hand in hand, and saw union representation as a powerful weapon in the struggle for equality. Perhaps more importantly, he held faith in the immeasurable power working people have when they unify their voices,” said Larry I. Willis, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD).
“By encouraging people to join together at work, in our streets, and at the ballot box, Dr. King did more than fight for a fair and just society — he showed working people that they have the power to change their world.”

King’s work and his words brought the promise of justice, hope and freedom to people of color and to the oppressed everywhere. His words still ring as powerfully, relevant and true today as they did more than 50 years ago:

“And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

–- From Martin Luther King’s historic speech delivered Aug. 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

Read King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in its entirety here.

Watch highlights of King’s speech.

The National Civil Rights Museum created a website marking the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination, which occurred in Memphis while he was supporting union workers.

SAFETY: The gift we give our families that should never be compromised

As president of the SMART Transportation Division and on behalf of General President Joseph Sellers, I want to wish every member happy holidays. We are all one family, and this season is a time when we have our loved ones in our thoughts and on our minds. As your president, your well-being, safety and job security are always on my mind, and I take those responsibilities seriously. Please know that I strive daily to make a difference in protecting you both on and off the job.

With the holiday season upon us, we owe it to ourselves and our families to keep the season joyous and free from needless sorrow. Safety is a gift we give our families each and every day, and nothing should be more important.

The twenty-four days between Dec. 22 and Jan. 14 have historically proven to be the deadliest for railroad workers. More fatalities and career-ending injuries occur during this calendar period than any other. Unfortunately, this rang true in 2018, when member Jeffery Hague of Local 495 lost his life on Dec. 30, 2018.

Regrettably, we have had a sixty-six (66%) percent increase in switching fatalities in 2019 compared to 2018. These include members Travis “Bowie” Andrepont of Local 1947, Chris Seidl of Local 1227 and most recently Curtis C. “C.C.” McConihay of Local 1386. All lost during rail switching operations. Sadly, all of our fallen members families will never feel the same joy of this season again.

Making a difference in your safety as a bus operator or a railroader has to start with both you and I, as it will take all of us actively working together in this union to succeed. We are already moving forward with plans to change how we all work together on safety-related issues, including the reporting of unsafe conditions, training, and the prevention of injuries.

However, it is imperative that we hear from members in the field about unsafe conditions, be it bus or rail, so we know where to deploy our own investigators and experts to help.

The SMART-TD website will be going through a series of updates in the near future. We will be updating our successful technology failure report and deploying an online unsafe condition and close-call report along with a few others to get you and our office connected on these issues. This will be explained in more detail in a forthcoming announcement.

As a reminder, I have listed the five life-saving tips that the Switching Operations Fatalities Analysis (SOFA) working group — comprised of representatives from labor, management and the FRA — have promoted in efforts to bring railroaders home safely to their families. With the recent rollout of Precision Scheduled Railroading, and productivity and profits placed directly ahead of employee safety, it is my belief that the focus on these life-saving rules and practices has been lost from a management standpoint. Therefore, I would ask that you take time to review them now and incorporate them into your daily work routine, especially in this most-dangerous season.

SOFA’s five life-saving tips can save yours, as they have saved countless other railroaders from death and career-ending injuries:

  1. Secure all equipment before action is taken.
  2. Protect employees against moving equipment.
  3. Discuss safety at the beginning of a job or when work changes.
  4. Communicate before action is taken.
  5. Mentor less experienced employees to perform service safely.

The SOFA working group also warned of special switching hazards:

  • Close clearances
  • Shoving movements
  • Unsecured cars
  • Free rolling rail cars
  • Exposure to mainline trains
  • Tripping, slipping or falling
  • Unexpected movement of cars
  • Adverse environmental conditions
  • Equipment defects
  • Motor vehicles or loading devices
  • Drugs and alcohol

On behalf of all your international officers, I once again wish you a blessed, safe and happy holiday season.

Fraternally,

 
 
 
 
 

President, Transportation Division

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

Pausing to remember Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy

Today, every member of the SMART union will take time, in conjunction with our entire nation, to honor and remember the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

King’s brilliance, vision, leadership and ultimate personal sacrifice shifted the course of American history by shedding light and bringing hope to a nation marred by racism, ignorance and inequality.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision for a more just and fair society was driven by a belief that America can and should be a place where all people prosper together. By focusing on what unites us, rather than what divides us, Dr. King showed us there is strength in unity, and taught us the immeasurable power working people have when they join together,” said Larry I. Willis, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD).

“Though it has been more than 50 years since his tragic and untimely passing, Dr. King’s call for positive change through collective action resonates as strongly today as it did when he walked this Earth. We see it in the teachers of Los Angeles who have taken to the streets to protest growing class sizes and inadequate funding. We see it in the tens of thousands of furloughed federal employees and their allies who continue to rally, leaflet, picket, and advocate for a strong, stable, and fully funded government. And we see it in workers across the country who came together to form and join unions in the last year to raise standards for themselves and their communities.

“As our nation pauses to reflect upon the life and teachings of Dr. King, transportation labor is proud to recommit to our efforts to carry his life’s work and legacy forward. Today, and every day, we stand up for the principles of strength through unity by fighting for laws that encourage and empower working people to join together and building a labor movement that will transform misery and despair into hope and progress.”

King’s work and his words brought the promise of justice, hope and freedom to people of color and to the oppressed everywhere. His words still ring as powerfully, relevant and true today as they did more than 50 years ago:

“And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

–- From Martin Luther King’s historic speech delivered Aug. 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

Read King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in its entirety here.

Watch highlights of King’s speech.

The National Civil Rights Museum created a website marking the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination, which occurred in Memphis while he was supporting union workers.

Happy Thanksgiving 2018

As families and friends gather to give thanks over this year’s holiday, let’s not forget the transportation workers who move people and cargo by road, rail and air safely to their destinations.

An estimated 54.3 million travelers are hitting the road or taking to the skies in 2018 to celebrate this holiday, the most since 2005. Americans will have to endure long lines, traffic, canceled, delayed and overbooked flights and the stress that comes with those inconveniences. On the busiest travel day of the year, the true consequences of letting our national transportation system and infrastructure fall apart are made apparent.

Bridges in the U.S. need replacement, transit systems need their anemic budgets revitalized for safer and more efficient travel, trains run through century-old tunnels, miles of highways remain neglected and our aviation system could use updated technology.

As frustrated as travelers may feel, the men and women who keep America moving understand their concerns all too well. Transportation employees know, probably more than anyone, that this country can and must do better when it comes to making travel safe and efficient. After all, they’re the ones contending with our neglected transportation system on a daily basis.

Talk to a transportation worker, and you’ll hear about more than just poor infrastructure. They’ll tell you about safety problems; obsolete, shabby and outdated equipment; fatigue on the job; and belligerent employers and passengers. You’ll hear about budget cuts that undermine safety and reliability as they try to do their jobs and also threaten good wages, benefits and the security of their jobs.

You’ll also hear about dedication, hard work and responsibility. Despite all the challenges they face, the men and women who keep America moving stay focused on the needs of the people and the country they serve. The priority of America’s transportation workers is to move people and goods as safely and efficiently as possible. Many of them will give up or postpone Thanksgiving plans to accommodate the needs of the traveling public, giving their time to make sure travelers get where they want to be on this holiday.

Thank you to the people who operate, maintain and build our transportation systems. Your diligence and commitment keep our journeys safe. Your service helps to make holidays, including the one we’re about to celebrate, happy and possible.

REMEMBERING MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.

Today, every member of the SMART union will pause with our entire nation in honor, solidarity and remembrance of the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

King’s brilliance, vision, leadership and ultimate personal sacrifice shifted the course of American history by shedding light and bringing hope to a nation marred by racism, ignorance and inequality.

“Today we pause to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his vision for a more fair and just society. Recognizing that the struggles for social and economic justice are one and the same, Dr. King saw union representation as the clearest path out of poverty and into the middle class. He understood that by coming together and focusing on what unites us, rather than what divides us, working people can make life better for themselves, their families and their communities,” said Larry I. Willis, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD).

“Those beliefs led Dr. King to Memphis, Tennessee, in the spring of 1968, where he proudly stood shoulder to shoulder with the city’s striking sanitation workers. As we now know, this act of solidarity would end in tragedy.”

“As our nation prepares to reflect upon the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s tragic and untimely passing, we cannot and must not forget the ideals he fought and died for — including access to good jobs, fair pay, and safe working conditions — are the same things working people are fighting for today. With middle-class families under attack and special interests bound and determined to erode workers’ rights, Dr. King’s teachings are just as important now as they were 50 years ago,” Willis said. “Transportation labor is proud to carry on Dr. King’s legacy. We pledge today to continue standing up for working families by fighting for an economy that works for everyone and building a labor movement that has the power to ‘transform misery and despair into hope and progress.’ ”

King’s work and his words brought the promise of justice, hope and freedom to people of color and to the oppressed everywhere. His words still ring as powerfully, relevant and true today as they did more than 50 years ago:

“And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

–- From Martin Luther King’s historic speech delivered Aug. 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

Read King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in its entirety here.

Watch highlights of King’s speech.

Read an article about King and his connections with labor.

Happy Thanksgiving 2017

It’s that time of year again. Americans across the country will get ready for the time-honored tradition of gathering with family and friends to give thanks. But first, they will agonize – possibly panic – over how to get where they’re going on the busiest travel day of the year. The latter isn’t exactly how Norman Rockwell depicts this day — but it is reality.

An estimated 51 million travelers this year will hit the road or take to the skies. Before that grand turkey feast graces their dinner tables, Americans will have to endure long lines, traffic, canceled, delayed and overbooked flights and  stress — lots of it. It is on this day when we feel the true consequences of letting our transportation system and infrastructure fall apart.

Right now, there are thousands of bridges in the U.S. in need of replacement or repair, the nation’s transit systems are being choked by anemic budgets, Amtrak trains running through century-old tunnels, millions of miles of neglected highways, an aviation system operating with severely outdated technology and a maritime system, including ports, suffering from decades of neglect.

As frustrated as travelers may feel, there’s a group of people who understand their concerns all too well: the men and women who keep America moving. Transportation employees know, probably more than anyone else, that this country can and must do better when it comes to making travel safe and efficient. After all, they, too, contend with the consequences of a neglected transportation system — and they do so on a daily basis.

Talk to a transportation worker, and you’ll hear about more than just poor infrastructure. They’ll tell you stories about safety problems, obsolete and outdated equipment, fatigue on the job, belligerent employers and passengers. You’ll hear about budget cuts that undermine safety and reliability, and threaten good wages, benefits and job security.

You’ll also hear about dedication, hard work and responsibility. That’s because, despite the immense challenges they face, the men and women who keep America moving remain focused on the needs of the people and country they serve. America’s transportation workers understand that no matter what obstacles they face, their priority is transporting people and goods as safely and efficiently as possible. Many will give up or postpone Thanksgiving plans with family and friends to accommodate the needs of the traveling public. And that — putting others before yourself — is what the season of giving is all about.

This Thanksgiving, pause for a moment and give thanks to the people who operate, maintain and build our transportation systems. Their commitment to getting the job done is what keeps our journeys safe. Their commitment to service helps make holidays, including the one we’re about to celebrate, possible.