Posts Tagged ‘Rich Ross’

SMART TD welcomes two new properties

Recently, employees of the Brownsville & Rio Grande International Railway and Brega Transportation both voted for SMART TD representation.

Brownsville & Rio Grande International Railway, LLC

Carmen, train and engine service, locomotive mechanics and maintenance of way personnel of the Brownsville & Rio Grande International Railway (BRG) all voted for SMART TD representation June 13. On June 14, 2017 The National Mediation Board certified that SMART has been duly designated and authorized to represent the carmen, train and engine service, locomotive mechanics and maintenance of way employees of Brownsville & Rio Grande International Railway.

“The employees faced many hurdles and constant pressure from the company to vote against organizing,” SMART TD Director of Organizing Rich Ross said. “They are a tight knit group that deserves the benefits that union membership can bring them.”

BRG operates 45 miles of line at the Port of Brownsville, Texas, and interchanges with Union Pacific and KCSM. BRG traffic includes steel, agricultural products, food products and general commodities.

The BRG commenced operations in 1984 when the Brownsville Navigation District (BND) reclaimed Port railroad operations from the Missouri Pacific Railroad. The BND, which manages the Port of Brownsville, entered a 30-year agreement with OmniTRAX to operate and expand the business development capabilities of the Brownsville & Rio Grande International Railway on its behalf in June of 2014.

“I would like to thank SMART TD Organizer Larry Grutzius for all of his hard work on this campaign,” Ross said.

Brega Transportation

Bus Vice President Calvin Studivant reports that 120 bus operators and bus aides employed by Brega Transportation voted for SMART TD representation June 16.

“I would like to thank SMART TD Director of Organizing Rich Ross for providing the necessary resources to make this a successful campaign. I would also like to thank New York State Legislative Director Sam Nasca and GCA VCN General Chairperson Thomas Bruce for their tireless effort in seeing this to fruition,” Studivant said.

“There was a lot of pushback from the carrier, but SMART TD stayed on message and that effort reflected in the voting. We are looking forward to securing our new bus members a far and equitable collective bargaining agreement,” Studivant added.

Brega Transport’s Yellow Bus division provides professional school bus service throughout Rockland County, N.Y.

Bay Line Railroad workers say SMART Transportation

Employees of Bay Line Railroad based in Panama City, Fla., voted July 2 for representation by the SMART Transportation Division, Organizer Rich Ross reports.

Of 17 eligible voters, 10 voted for SMART while three voted for no union.

“I thank CSX and Norfolk Southern new-hire class instructor Justin Humphries and Local 1291 Chairperson Jacob Lane for all of their hard work in this campaign,” Ross said. “I also want to recognize the efforts of Cara McGinty at the Transportation Division Headquarters in North Olmsted, Ohio. She truly put a lot of time and energy in bringing this organizing drive to a successful conclusion.”

Bay Line Railroad is a 103-mile short line freight railroad that interchanges with CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern. Commodities transported by the carrier include aggregates, brick and cement, chemicals, coal, food and feed products, forest products, metallic ores and minerals, and steel and scrap. It was acquired by Genesee & Wyoming in 2005.

Bus ops, rail prop vote SMART on same day


Rich Ross

In representation elections held May 15 on both bus and rail properties, the SMART Transportation Division came out on top, keeping the Organizing Department’s 2014 undefeated streak alive.

Yet another division of First Student bus operators has joined the SMART fold as Kansas City, Mo., school bus drivers overwhelmingly selected SMART over both the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union.

Of eligible voters, 107 selected SMART Transportation Division, 63 selected the Teamsters, 16 selected SEIU and just seven chose to vote for no union.

“This was a hard-fought campaign, but it was also a well-run campaign,” said Transportation Division Director of Organizing Rich Ross. “We won, and we won by a large majority because we spent a lot of time out there making our case. The operators wanted representation and chose the best bang for their buck.”

“We were out near the property every day at 4:30 a.m. to get our message across. The Teamsters came out in force with their parade truck, trying to block us from view, but the First Student operators found us.”

Ross lauded the efforts of Alternate Vice President-Bus Calvin Studivant and Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority General Chairperson Waverly Harris (1594) and Vice Local Chairperson Brian Caldwell (1594). He also thanked CSX and Norfolk Southern new-hire class instructor Justin Humphries Local 1291 Chairperson Jacob Lane for their dedicated service throughout the campaign and Local 759 member Sheny M. Mendez for acting as an interpreter for the company’s Spanish-speaking employees.

In Western Michigan, the train and engine service workers employed by Marquette Rail also said “SMART” when they opted for union representation.

With the assistance of Vice President Jeremy Ferguson, Ross concluded another successful campaign in the Great Lakes State.

The Genesee & Wyoming-owned short line operates over approximately 126 miles of Michigan track, primarily on rail route extensions from CSX and Norfolk Southern near Grand Rapids northward to Ludington and Manistee.

Marquette transports chemicals, paperboard, grain, salt, petroleum products and other commodities. It also serves as a storage agent for fleet owners requiring accommodations for seasonally inactive or off-lease rolling stock. Capacity is in excess of 500 railcars.

N.M. Rail Runner employees dart to SMART

Rail_runner_nmrx_webNon-union employees at a commuter rail operation in the state of New Mexico expressed interest in union representation and now they have it.

Engineers, conductors and ticket agents working for New Mexico Rail Runner Express voted April 28-29 for representation by the SMART Transportation Division, Director of Organizing Rich Ross reports.

The Rail Runner Express operates over approximately 100 miles of right-of-way, serving the metropolitan areas of Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

“I extend my sincere appreciation to SMART Transportation Division’s assistant state legislative director in New Mexico, Donald A. Gallegos, for his efforts. He went above and beyond the call of duty during this campaign,” Ross said.

“I also thank the members of SMART Sheet Metal Division Local 49 and Business Manager Vince Alvarado for the use of their facility in Albuquerque as our base of operation.”

“Hopefully, we can reach an agreement soon for our 38 new members.”

The commuter rail service is administered by the New Mexico Department of Transportation over right-of-way purchased from BNSF Railway. Operation and maintenance of the line and equipment is currently under contract to Herzog Transit Services, Inc.

According to NMDOT, Rail Runner Express carried 1,219,461 passengers in fiscal year 2011.

First Transit operators at U. of Tenn. go SMART

SMART_logo_041712_thumbnailCampus shuttle operators for the University of Tennessee’s transportation service chose the SMART Transportation Division as their collective bargaining representative in a representation election April 16.

Of the approximately 50 eligible voters, 26 voted for SMART, 10 voted for no union representation and 13 chose not to participate in the election

The operators transport students, faculty and staff throughout the 550-acre campus located in Knoxville, Tenn., and will provide rides to more than 814,000 passengers per year.

SMART Transportation Division Director of Organizing Rich Ross and Alternate Vice President – Bus Calvin Studivant spent nine days on the campus just prior to the vote, engaging operators in discussions about their needs and answering their questions.

The operators are employed by First Transit, Inc., based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“The good news for this group of operators is that Calvin is close to finalizing an agreement for the First Transit group at Rutgers University that we organized in December and will be negotiating this contract with the same labor relations officer,” Ross said. “Hopefully, due to their familiarity, they can reach a mutually acceptable agreement quickly.”

Bus operators for Rutgers University’s inter-campus bus and shuttle system seeking union representation overwhelmingly chose the SMART Transportation Division Dec. 9 as their collective bargaining representative.


Three short lines choose SMART

In an effort put forth by SMART TD’s Director of Organizing Rich Ross, SMART TD brought three short lines to the fold in an election held March 4, 5 and 6.

The short lines are all owned by Genesee & Wyoming, Inc., and included: Conecuh Valley Railway, LLC, Three Notch Railroad and Wiregrass Central Railway.

“I would like to thank NS/CSX new hire Instructor/Organizer Justin Humphries for his help in this organizing effort,” Ross said.

The Conecuh Valley Railway (COEH) operates over 12 miles of track southwest from Troy, Ala., to Goshen, Ala. The COEH interchanges with CSX at Troy and handles about 3,000 carloads per year. The line transports poultry feed ingredients, plastic, lead, vegetable oil and food products.

The Three Notch Railroad (TNHR) operates over 34 miles of track southeast from Georgiana, Ala., to Andalusia, Ala. TNHR interchanges with CSX at Georgiana and handles approximately 1,050 carloads per year. The line carries chemicals, polypropylene, fertilizer and agricultural products.

The Wiregrass Central Railway (WGCR) operates 20 miles of track in Alabama, west from Waterford to Enterprise. The line intersects with CSX at Waterford and handles around 8,200 carloads per year, carrying poultry feed ingredients, peanut products and seed.

Rutgers' bus ops were smart, now SMART

Bus operators for Rutgers University’s inter-campus bus and shuttle system seeking union representation overwhelmingly chose the SMART Transportation Division Dec. 9 as their collective bargaining representative.

Among 112 eligible voters, 74 of the 80 operators participating in the union election chose SMART as their representative, while six voted for no union.

The bus service is managed by First Transit, Inc., based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

SMART TD Director of Organizing Rich Ross lauded the efforts of organizer and Alternate Bus Vice President Calvin Studivant saying, “Calvin just did an outstanding job. We had a meeting at Rutgers a couple of weeks ago and approximately 90 drivers attended. Calvin was well received during the meeting and was recognized for his efforts and for his knowledge of the bus industry.”

Studivant has more than 25 years of experience as a bus operator for Community Transportation in Clifton, N.J.

Ross also noted the efforts of Local President Waverly Harris and Vice Local President Brian Caldwell in assisting with the organizing campaign and helping drivers realize the benefits of union representation. Both are members of SMART TD Local 1594 at Upper Darby, Pa., employed by a division of Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA).

The Rutgers-New Brunswick/Piscataway inter-campus bus and shuttle system provides efficient and reliable transportation service for all five campuses. It is available to all members of the university community and the public.

According to First Transit’s website, the service is the second largest operating bus system in New Jersey, transporting more than 6 million passengers annually and providing more than 70,000 passenger trips per day. It operates approximately 50 transit buses that utilize bio-diesel fuel and Green Roads technology in an effort to reduce emissions and petroleum consumption.

Sprinter train ops race to SMART TD

The train operators at the Sprinter Rail Facility in Escondido, Calif., chose SMART Transportation Division representation in a May 28 vote.

In a unanimous vote, the Sprinter operators opted for representation under the SMART umbrella.

The Sprinter line is a 22-mile long light rail train system between Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos and Escondido, Calif., serving 15 stations.

The Sprinter runs every 30 minutes in each direction, Monday through Thursday, from approximately 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday trains run later.

It is managed Veolia Transportation Services, Inc., a major operator of commuter and regional rail services worldwide.

SMART TD Director of Organizing Rich Ross thanks all involved for “this complete team effort.”

Avantair pilots land at SMART Transportation

In their final approach for union representation, the pilots of Avantair, Inc., successfully touched down on the SMART Transportation Division runway.

The Feb. 14 vote brought 224 Avantair pilots under the SMART umbrella. Among the pilots who participated in the representation election, 77 percent voted in favor of SMART.

“Our ability to represent transportation employees was one of the key factors in their choice of UTU/SMART,” said SMART Transportation Division Director of Organizing Rich Ross. “They had specific questions and wanted answers about union representation and we were able to accommodate their needs. Now we have to get down to business to get them a contract.”

“These pilots fly everywhere and anywhere at any time of the day. We set up a lot of conferences calls at all hours of the day in this campaign,” Ross said. “Some of these guys are working 80 hours a week.”

“I once again extend my sincere appreciation to International organizers James “Mike” Lewis and Calvin Studivant, and to International staff member Cara McGinty,” Ross said.

“I also want to thank the pilots’ group that initially approached us. They were the key to making this a successful campaign.”

Avantair is an aircraft fractional ownership company, headquartered at Clearwater, Florida, U.S.A.

With fractional jets, some customers may buy a share of a plane rather than an entire plane. Their fee is pro-rated and the cost of an aircraft is spread among a number of investors. They then have access to a plane for a specified number of hours or days per year on short notice.

The company operates of fleet of Piaggio Avanti P180 aircraft.

Texas & Northern employees select SMART

Employees of the Texas & Northern Railway Company this week were successful in their efforts to bring union representation to their property.

In separate elections held Feb. 6 and Feb. 7, the operating and non-operating employees at the northeast Texas railroad voted overwhelming for SMART Transportation Division representation.

Non-operating employees include maintenance-of-way workers, machinists and mechanics.

The railroad, based in Lone Star, Texas, provides rail transportation service to U.S. Steel’s Texas Tubular operations, as well as other customers on its line, including A&A Coating, Friedman Pipe and Lone Star Specialties .

The Class III railroad comprises 7.6 miles of the trackage and 32 miles of storage tracks. It interchanges with Kansas City Southern operations at Veals Yard.

SMART Transportation Division Director of Organizing Rich Ross lauded the efforts of International organizers James “Mike” Lewis and Calvin Studivant and International staff member Cara McGinty.

“I would like to personally thank Mike and Calvin for their work put forth in this victory. There was a lot of traveling and a lot of effort involved,” Lewis said.

Texas & Northern Railway is a subsidiary of Pittsburgh-based Transstar, which also operates the Union Railroad Company in Pennsylvania and Delray Connecting Railroad Company in Michigan.


Alabama railroad votes SMART representation

Train and engine service employees on Birmingham Terminal Railway – a Watco property – have voted to be represented by the SMART Transportation Division.

Rich Ross, SMART Transportation Division’s director of organizing, thanked Alabama State Legislative Director Neil Elders and International organizers Mike Lewis and Calvin Studivant for their efforts. Also assisting in the organizing drive were Local 622 Chairperson Justin Humphries and Local 622 Vice Local Chairperson Jacob Lane, whom Ross praised for “their dedication and hard work during this campaign.” Ross also thanked International staff member Cara McGinty for her assistance.

Formerly known as Birmingham Southern Railroad, the 76-mile line provides service to more than 30 customers in the Birmingham, Ala., region, and connects with BNSF, CSX and Norfolk Southern.

Bus Local 172 turns back Teamsters raid

UTU-represented school bus operators in Upper Darby, Pa., and members of UTU Local 172, turned back a raid by the Teamsters, voting overwhelmingly to keep the UTU as their bargaining representative on this First Student property.

The UTU’s ability to negotiate industry-leading contracts, process grievances and achieve workplace safety improvements were cited by many members as the reason they voted “UTU yes” once again. Local 172 members chose the UTU as their first bargaining representative eight years ago when the property was unorganized.

Rich Ross, the UTU’s director of organizing, credited organizer Mike Lewis and Bus Department Alternate Vice President Calvin Studivant as “a brain trust second to none in explaining the benefits of UTU representation.”

Ross also thanked International President Mike Futhey for providing the resources necessary. Since Futhey took office in January 2008, the UTU has organized 28 new properties and turned back two raids on UTU properties.

Also singled out for praise were numerous officers at Local 1594 (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority), including President Waverly Harris, Vice Local Chairpersons Brian Caldwell and Curtis Fulmore, and Treasurer Cynthia Kelly-Nash, along with Local 1596 General Chairperson (Transit Management of Charlotte, N.C.) Alvy Hughes.

Local 172 officials who worked diligently to turn back the Teamsters raid were Vice Local Chairperson Denise Hall and Secretary Kathy Sitongia. Ross said that “they have developed a loyalty among members.”