Brothers and sisters,
2022 was a historic year for our movement. Our resolve was tested, and we proved stronger than anyone outside of this organization expected. As you can see by this latest edition of the SMART Members’ Journal, our collective efforts have served to put the world on notice.
Many events have defined this past year. The imposition of a national rail contract by Congress, a win in Los Angeles for the contract of one of our largest bus properties, a nationwide effort to rally for two-person crews through a record-setting number of comments to the FRA and through the coordination of nationwide informational rallies to raise awareness about crew size and the need for the dignity of sick leave — these have all put SMART-TD in the spotlight of our country’s news cycles.
These issues have resulted in an unprecedented amount of media attention from outlets all over the nation and the world. I made appearances on a number of cable networks, and it’s not an exaggeration when I say that thousands of news articles put our union and our efforts in the public eye.
This past year, our union took many steps and built necessary momentum to lead the way down a strong path in 2023, and I thank all of you for your support and continued engagement. Many of you took the risk of speaking out against the powerful. It’s going to be crucial to regroup and consider the next steps our opposition will take.
Together we all can work toward justice in the workplace and get what is deserved, even in the face of corporate greed. Our work and success in 2022 has taught us two things for certain. They will bend, and WE WILL NOT BREAK.
One tactic the rail carriers have already engaged in is that they are packaging new cost-cutting proposals to the rail industry and labeling these ideas as “safety” and “quality-of-life improvements” for our men and women on the front lines. I say proposals because they are simply that. As most of you all know, a number of general committees are in mediation over crew-consist agreement issues as a result of the court battles that began in 2019. More specifically, Union Pacific rolled out a video at December’s FRA public hearing on the proposed two-person crew regulation highlighting what they referred to as an “expeditor position,” claiming they had an agreement with “labor” to do so. This position may have been proposed and discussed in mediation, however, to this date there is no such agreement and was merely another attempt to mislead the FRA.
Regarding bus negotiations, we stand in concert with our brothers and sisters who work on the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS). It is important to continue to support them as they fight for a fair, equitable contract as we did with our members in Los Angeles on the LACMTA.
For rail workers, we will continue to focus our efforts on the quality-of-life improvements you have so clearly earned. These will be delivered through the negotiation of on-property agreements that our highly experienced general chairpersons will be leading the way on. We will strive to ensure that the hard-fought victories won by exhausting the Railway Labor Act in the national negotiations translate to real and tangible changes in your work schedules while not compromising your pay and healthcare expenses.
We will continue to protect the physical well-being of our commuter and passenger rail members by working with our State Legislative Directors (SLDs) to enact and enforce state laws banning riders who perpetrate violence against our members. It is crucial that we work together in order to make the workplace a safe, secure environment for these trainmen. Our SLDs and general chairpersons will follow the lead of those in New York and New Jersey to recreate the progress made this year in their precedent-setting ban of a rider from the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) system. The epidemic of disrespect and violence toward our transit and bus members needs to end.
In 2023, let us remain strong and united for the greater good. Together we all can work toward justice in the workplace and get what is deserved, even in the face of corporate greed. Our work and success in 2022, has taught us two things for certain. They will bend, and WE WILL NOT BREAK.
This year, let us stand united and learn from the battles we fought and what was accomplished in 2022. We must renew our commitment to staying in the fight and advancing our movement with resilience and solidarity.
Brothers and sisters, I say this to tell you that our work is not done – it never is – and we will continue forward with our progress in 2023.
Thank you for all that you do in your workplace, in your local union, and in your community.
God bless you and your families in 2023, and please stay safe and look out for one another!
Jeremy R. Ferguson
President, Transportation Division
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