Posts Tagged ‘Ty Dragoo’

Kansas DOT proposes two-person crew regulation

Another state is making a two-person freight crew the law of their land.

On July 27, the Kansas State Department of Transportation proposed a regulation that requires railroads that operate in the state to maintain a two-person crew in the lead locomotive.

“Kansas now joins a growing list of states that believe federal inaction on this issue is too great of importance to public safety and our members’ safety,” SMART Transportation Division Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo said in an email to TD members in his state. “The work we have done, the years of relationship building, the local, county and regional meetings where we have presented our case, and above all else, your efforts in your communities have finally paid off.

“Today is the proudest day of my career and, indeed, my tenure as a member of this great union.”

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, said the proposed rule was a needed step to preserve safe functions of the rail industry in the state in a news release announcing the regulation.

“Kansas has faced issues ranging from crew member fatigue to derailments which pose a threat to our safety and security – but by maintaining the current practice of requiring a two-person crew we can ensure the health and safety of Kansas workers,” she said. “This proposed regulation is a commonsense, necessary measure to protect our state’s railroad crew members and keep every community along the tracks safe.”

Exceptions to the Kansas regulation include switching operations, brake testing, safety inspections, or while performing setouts in conjunction with road service.

“The benefits of the proposed rule and regulation is railroad and community safety, including the role two-person crews can play in helping to prevent potential accidents or derailments and in emergency situations,” the state said in its release.

The persistence of Dragoo and the state’s legislative board paid off after more than a decade of work. Dragoo previously helped to persuade legislators to introduce a two-person crew bill, H.B. 6057, back in 2016, but it died while in committee.

“All the outreach by Brother Dragoo, the Kansas SLB, SMART-TD members and other rail workers and concerned parties was instrumental in proving the point that a safe operation is one with a certified conductor and a certified engineer working in tandem with technology playing a supporting, not a supplanting, part,” SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson said. “This realization is one that transcends partisanship and ensures the continued safety of Kansas residents and rail workers.”

Kansas becomes the second state in 2020 to move ahead on a two-person-crew regulation. Washington had a state two-person crew law signed March 30th that took effect June 11th. If the rule goes ahead in Kansas, it would become the 10th state with a two-person crew regulation.

At the federal level, a number of states and rail labor unions continue to engage in a lawsuit against the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in the U.S. Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit. The federal agency, led by Donald Trump appointee Ron Batory, has attempted to prevent states from passing laws mandating a minimum train crew size.

A hearing in that case is likely later this year.

Read the Kansas State Legislative Board’s statement on the proposed regulation. (PDF)
Read the Kansas DOT release announcing the proposed regulation. (PDF)

Ty Dragoo: Making A Difference At Party Conventions

Ty Dragoo: On Making A Difference By Becoming A Convention Delegate

  Ty Dragoo is the Kansas State Legislative Director for SMART TD. 

 

From roll calls and speeches to flags and ticker tape, the national conventions are usually conventional pep rallies for the two major parties. But this year, the Democratic and Republican delegates and the rules that govern their gatherings matter.

On the left, the democratic field is full of candidates.

On the right, Donald Trump is the apparent nominee in the Republican convention.

I have been a national delegate to the 2012 and 2016 Democratic conventions for the State of Kansas. I was first approached about running as a delegate when elected to the labor committee of the Kansas Democratic Party. I quickly realized that this was an excellent opportunity to advance SMART’s legislative priorities. The notion that we, as labor, could have a seat at the table was paramount.

After all, it’s the delegates at the convention — not the voters back home — who have the last word on the nominees.

Any time there’s a closely contested nomination, it does come as a surprise to primary voters that the delegates are the ones who ultimately make the decision. That is why we need as many people in the labor movement involved in this process as possible.

How exactly the delegates do this is complicated. Here are the answers to some questions you may have had about the nominating process.

 

What is a delegate?

Delegates are the individuals who vote for their party’s presidential nominees at this summer’s conventions. The 2020 Democratic National Convention will be held from July 13th to 16th, 2020, at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Since by tradition, the convention of the party currently holding the White House is held after that of the opposing party, the 2020 Republican National Convention will be held on August 24th to 27th, 2020, at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.

 

Who gets to be a delegate?

Most delegates are grassroots party activists who campaign to represent their congressional district or their state at large. But both parties also set aside a certain number of delegate slots for “party insiders.”

On the GOP side, these are each state’s party chair and two Republican National Committee members. The committee members — 112 in all — also make the rules that govern the national convention.

Under the Democratic Party’s system, about one-sixth of the delegates are party officials, members of the DNC, all the Democrats in Congress, all Democratic governors, and distinguished party leaders (such as all former and current presidents and vice presidents). Unlike the Republican party leaders, these 700 or so Democratic superdelegates aren’t bound to primary results and can vote for whomever they wish after the first round of balloting.

 

How do you become a delegate?

The rules for delegate selection are complex, varying not only by party but by state, by year, and even by congressional districts.

Most states stipulate that elected delegates should be reflective of primary results. The best place to start is to ask your State Legislative Director or State party.

 

Just how committed are the delegates?

All Democratic delegates, except the superdelegates, are pledged to vote at the convention for their state’s or district’s winner. On the whole, the GOP delegates are also supposed to reflect the will of their state’s voters, but the rules give them some leeway.

 

Why is it important as a union member to become a delegate?

Here are a few of the reasons SMART wants YOU to serve as a delegate at the national conventions.

Working Americans;

The parties need our economic class. States strive to reflect their diversity in the makeup of their delegations. SMART’s membership is comprised of good-paying middle-class jobs, making union members a natural fit.

Policy;

It’s a powerful way to shape labor policy. Members’ voices deserve to be heard. As a delegate, you’ll help draft the party platform, including making labor a central issue in the upcoming election.

Next President;

You could end up picking the party’s nominee. If nobody wins in the first ballot, delegates are free to shift their votes to the (pro-labor) candidate of their choice.

It’s Interesting;

Getting to see democracy in action, up close, as a party VIP, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most of us.

Members out in force in Kansas City

From left, Local 1409 Legislative Representative Dan Bonawitz Jr., TD Vice President Brent Leonard, Washington State Legislative Director Herb Krohn, TD President Jeremy Ferguson and Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo participate in an informational picket on Tuesday, Nov. 5, in Kansas City.

General President Joseph Sellers Jr. and TD President Jeremy Ferguson both participated in a town hall meeting and informational rally in Kansas City on Nov. 4 and 5 to draw attention to Union Pacific’s closure of the Neff Yard that resulted in about 200 lost jobs.

The event received local media coverage and was a success, said Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo.

“it was a great event,” Dragoo said. “We had over 170 members there. We’re definitely moving forward.”

More coverage of the event will be forthcoming.

Kansas SLD criticizes UP yard cuts

Union Pacific’s version of Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) claimed more victims recently.

UP announced last week that it was doing away with its Neff Yard in Kansas City, Mo., and with it 200 well-paying rail jobs evaporate.

The short-term benefits of these and other workforce reductions by carriers in the name of PSR result in a few more bucks for Wall Street shareholders — the end result of PSR for all to see.

Ignored is the long-term damage done to customer service as the carrier tries to adapt to the change it has made to operations, to equipment because of deferred maintenance, to the lives of employees – both those who are left jobless and those who have to work even harder to pick up the slack — and to the economies of communities in which those good-paying rail jobs have vanished.

UP’s not alone. Right around Labor Day at two locations in Pennsylvania and one in Virginia, Norfolk Southern cut nearly 300 jobs. What do the two carriers have in common? They’re both knee-deep in PSR.

SMART TD leadership backs Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo, who wrote a letter to explain to members of the general public about what the carriers are really doing.

We support the Kansas State Legislative Board’s efforts to preserve jobs in the face of carrier cuts and hope that other members of rail labor follow his lead. SLD Dragoo’s letter is reproduced below. He is not being silent, and we will not be silent.

Dear Editor,

America’s railroads are going through a round of job cuts. But at what cost? We, the public, are paying for significant Wall Street gains while selling out our communities.

Union Pacific has announced the closure of Neff Yard in Kansas City. Now you get to hold the bag as UP takes the money to the bank.

Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo

Union Pacific Railroad’s decision this week to abolish 200 positions at Neff Yard follows similar force reductions by the other major freight rail systems across the country.

The cuts aren’t coming because the company is losing money: Union Pacific in July 2019 reported 2019 second-quarter net income of $1.6 billion, or $2.22 per diluted share. This compares to $1.5 billion, or $1.98 per diluted share, in the second quarter of 2018.

“We delivered record second-quarter financial results driven by exceptional operating performance, including an all-time best quarterly operating ratio of 59.6 percent,” said Lance Fritz, Union Pacific chairman.

The cuts aren’t due to burdensome corporate taxes. Union Pacific disclosed in 2017 the estimated impact from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That disclosure saw some shocking amounts of money to the tune of $6 billion.

The $5.8 billion benefit comes primarily from the revaluation of UP’s deferred tax liabilities to reflect the new federal corporate tax rate of 21 percent.

Also, UP stated the tax break law would result in a $200 million non-cash reduction to its operating expenses. It is also of note that many states and local communities have subsidized Union Pacific with tax money.

The most-significant financial boost was Union Pacific’s much-lower tax bill for the reporting quarters. Operating income may have increased, which is impressive knowing that workers are responsible for that, but the company’s tax bill since passage has been substantially lower, which has led to a massive increase in net income for the quarters.

Despite taxpayer dollars and tax cuts helping Union Pacific gain more per-share for Wall Street, their way to say “thanks” seems to be, pack up and go. This is leaving behind an economic catastrophe for impacted communities to clean up for themselves. To add insult to injury, the company didn’t even have the decency to warn employees until a few days out.

The cuts are due to insatiable corporate greed. Union Pacific is one of the largest U.S. freight rail operators with annual revenues of more than $20 billion.

While communities struggle with basic needs, education, public utilities, streets, emergency services, food tax rates, sales tax, etc. all at the table for increase when UP wants its cut. You have been paying more while they cut and run. This is a double slap to the face; one we must be vocal about.

These job losses will ripple through the heart of the local economy. Without income and security, workers and families won’t be able to spend on clothes, restaurants, recreation, and much more. Union Pacific isn’t only undermining workers and families, but entire regional economies.

As we stand in solidarity with the Union Pacific workers who are about to lose their livelihoods, we can’t forget that corporate decisions in faraway places leave deep scars in unsuspecting communities. Not only do workers in these communities deserve gratitude, but we must also hold companies who take them for granted accountable. When communities invest in companies, we are investing in jobs.

We kept our promise. Will Union Pacific and other railroads continue to break theirs?

Sincerely,

Ty Dragoo

Kansas State Legislative Director — SMART TD

 

Members in Kansas and Missouri — please take a few moments of your time to tell the elected officials listed below about what you think about the carrier cash grab that is PSR.

CONGRESSMAN EMANUEL CLEAVER

D.C. OFFICE

2335 Rayburn HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515

Phone: (202) 225-4535

Fax: (202) 225-4403

Email him at https://cleaver.house.gov/contact/email-me

CLEAVER’S KANSAS CITY DISTRICT OFFICE

101 W. 31st St.
Kansas City, MO 64108

Phone: (816) 842-4545

Fax: (816) 471-5215

 

CONGRESSWOMAN SHARICE DAVIDS

D.C. OFFICE

1541 Longworth HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515

Phone: (202) 225-2865

Email her at https://davids.house.gov/contact/email-me

DAVIDS’ KANSAS CITY DISTRICT OFFICE

753 State Ave., Suite 460
Kansas City, KS 66101

Phone: 913-766-3993

 

KANSAS CITY COUNCILWOMAN KATHERYN SHIELDS

City Hall
414 E. 12th St.
Kansas City, MO 64106

Phone: 816-513-6515

Email: katheryn.shields@kcmo.org

 

KANSAS CITY COUNCILMAN ERIC BUNCH

Legislative aide Crissy Dastrup 816-513-6517

Email: Eric.Bunch@kcmo.org

 

KANSAS CITY MAYOR QUINTON LUCAS

City Hall
29th Floor
414 E. 12th St.
Kansas City, MO 64106

Phone: 816-513-3500

Email: MayorQ@kcmo.org

Kansas gov. signs bill giving SMART TD spot on state transport task force

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer shakes hands with Tara Mays, executive director of Economic Lifelines, after signing the House Substitute for SB 391 bill creating the Joint Legislative Transportation Vision Task Force on May 16. The bearded man to Colyer’s right is Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo.

Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo reported that the hard work of his legislative board has paid off with the Kansas Legislature passing and Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer signing May 16 the House Substitute for SB 391, establishing the Joint Legislative Transportation Vision Task Force.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those legislators who supported this important step to building a vision for transportation in Kansas with labor at the table,” Dragoo said. “We greatly appreciate the assistance of all of those that voted in favor to pass the task force legislation.”

The task force’s purpose is to evaluate the current condition of the Kansas transportation system; solicit local input on projects; evaluate current uses of the state highway fund; evaluate current transportation funding and determine whether funding levels are sufficient for current and future needs; identify additional necessary transportation projects; make recommendations regarding the needs of the state’s transportation system in the future; and make recommendations on the future structure of the state highway fund as it relates to maintaining the state’s infrastructure.

The bill also includes a list of organizations, including SMART Transportation Division and the AFL-CIO, that will sit on the task force and help to formulate a 10-year plan for the state’s transportation system.

“SMART TD looks forward to being a part of providing the task force with the critical information that they will need to build a vision for the future of the infrastructure system in Kansas,” Dragoo said. “This is the first time in our board’s history that our union will be recognized and enshrined in Kansas statute as a stakeholder in transportation planning for this state.

“Brothers and sisters, that is not by accident. That is our hard work paying off.”

A PDF of the final version of the bill is available on the Kansas State Legislature website.

Victory at hand in Kansas as legislators vote to create transport task force

Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo reports that the hard work of his legislative board has paid off with his state’s Legislature voting to pass the House Substitute for SB 391, establishing the Joint Legislative Transportation Vision Task Force. The bill now heads to Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) for final approval, which he is expected to give.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those legislators who supported this important step to building a vision for transportation in Kansas with labor at the table,” Dragoo said. “We greatly appreciate the assistance of all of those that voted in favor to pass the task force legislation.”

The task force’s purpose is to evaluate the current condition of the Kansas transportation system; solicit local input on projects; evaluate current uses of the state highway fund; evaluate current transportation funding and determine whether funding levels are sufficient for current and future needs; identify additional necessary transportation projects; make recommendations regarding the needs of the state’s transportation system in the future; and make recommendations on the future structure of the state highway fund as it relates to maintaining the state’s infrastructure.

The bill also includes a list of organizations, including SMART Transportation Division and the AFL-CIO, that will sit on the task force.

“SMART TD looks forward to being a part of providing the task force with the critical information that they will need to build a vision for the future of the infrastructure system in Kansas,” Dragoo said. “This is the first time in our board’s history that our union will be recognized and enshrined in Kansas statute as a stakeholder in transportation planning for this state.

“Brothers and sisters, that is not by accident. That is our hard work paying off.”

Click here to read the final bill.

Kan. SLD lobbies for two-person crew law

A railroad labor lobbyists asked the Wellington City Council to give its support to a bill in the state legislature that would require trains to have two people in the cabin while a train is running.

Ty Dragoo told the council at a worksession meeting Monday, railroad workers feel this is a safety issue.

Read the complete story at the Wellington Daily News.

Ty Dragoo is the SMART Transportation Division’s Kansas State Legislative Director.