Posts Tagged ‘John McCloskey’

Unions: With service cuts, LIRR leaders risk COVID spread and exhibit ‘lack of good faith’

Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) implemented planned service cuts the morning of Monday, March 8, in spite of objections made weeks ago by union leadership and echoed by New York state senators just before the cuts went into effect.

The result?

This photo, provided by a LIRR worker to Alternate Vice President/General Chairperson Anthony Simon, shows a crowded Long Island Rail Road car early March 8, the day LIRR implemented service cuts.

Crowded cars and the potential for the early morning commute from places like New Hyde Park or Jamaica Station to become a COVID spreader event with no opportunity for social distancing, as shown by photos provided to SMART-TD Alternate Vice President Anthony Simon by frontline workers, thousands of whom he represents as general chairperson of GCA-505.

“These reductions have now made Long Island Rail Road service unsafe as far as allowing for social distancing is concerned,” Simon said.

In response to LIRR leadership’s implementation of the cuts, which reduced weekday service to the equivalent of what the system offers on the weekend, more than 3,000 unionized workers from SMART, SMART-TD and six other labor unions submitted the following message via email on March 8:

“WE THE UNDERSIGNED; ARE LIRR WORKERS WHO ARE OUTRAGED BY THE DECISION TO REDUCE SERVICE FOR LIRR RIDERS AT A TIME WHEN OPENING THE ECONOMY, CONTINUED DISTANCING, INCENTIVIZING CUSTOMERS TO RETURN AND PRIORITIZING THE USE OF FEDERAL DOLLARS IS CRUCIAL TO A FULL AND SAFE RECOVERY. WE ARE DISGUSTED THAT THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THESE CUTS AND THE INSENSITIVITY TO OUR QUALITY OF LIFE FOR OUR FRONT-LINE CRAFTS HAS DESTROYED OUR MORALE AND TRUST IN THE AGENCY. WE DEMAND YOU LISTEN TO YOUR “HEROES” AND RESTORE SERVICE FOR THE BETTERMENT OF OUR SYSTEM.”

In addition to Simon, SMART-Mechanical Division General Chairperson John McCloskey and TD yardmaster General Chairperson Michael Miele signed the letter addressed to New York Metropolitan Transit Agency Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye and LIRR President Phillip Eng.

“The MTA’s desire to outsource our work, disregard our membership’s quality of life and forget about what we have delivered throughout a global pandemic is inexcusable,” the union leaders stated. “We certainly hope you can get on the right track in winning us back for the good of this great railroad that we have built and have always been proud to serve. Until then, we will continue to work hard for our customers with the understanding that there is a lack of good faith and insufficient appreciation toward our members from leadership.”

Other unions that signed on to the letter included the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen; Transportation Communications Union; International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers; National Conference of Firemen & Oilers, SEIU 32BJ; Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen; and Independent Railway Supervisors Association.

Read the letter. (PDF)

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.”