LAS VEGAS – SMART GEC Member and Transportation Division (TD) Vice President Jeremy R. Ferguson of Local 313 (Grand Rapids, Mich.) was elected President – Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, shortly after the opening August 11th of the union’s Second Transportation Division Convention at the Mirage Resort in Las Vegas.
Ferguson was challenged for the office by fellow TD Vice President John England (Local 1674, Los Angeles, Calif.) and Robert “Bob” Keeley, former general chairperson of GCA 342 (CSX – Northern District) out of Local 1951 (Albany, N.Y.). Ferguson received 380 votes of the 440 ballots cast.
“Get ready to go to work … It’s going to take the upmost dedication and determination, but we will fight the injustices to the end,” Ferguson said. “We will stand shoulder-to-shoulder, and I will lead from the front. Your voices will be heard, and you will hear my voice.
“General chairpersons, state directors – you deserve more from us, and we will deliver.”
Alternate National Legislative Director Gregory Hynes (Local 1081, Phoenix, Ariz.) was elected National Legislative Director, defeating Utah State Legislative Director F. Jay Seegmiller (Local 166, Salt Lake City, Utah) in a 255-to-185 vote. Hynes will succeed John J. Risch III, who previously announced he would not seek re-election.
Incumbent TD Vice Presidents Brent Leonard (Local 202, Denver, Colo.), Calvin Studivant (Local 759, Newark, N.J.) and John D. Whitaker III (Local 1106, Rocky Mount, N.C.) were returned to office by acclamation.
Also elected TD Vice President by acclamation were Alternate TD Vice President Chadrick Adams (Local 331, Temple, Texas), Executive Board Member and GCA 049 General Chairperson Jamie Modesitt and Joe M. Lopez, general chairperson of GCA 009 (BNSF).
Additionally, General Chairperson D.B. Wier, Jr., (GCA 919, Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis) of Local 469 was elected TD vice president, defeating General Chairperson Tom Pate (GCA 20, BNSF), president of Local 1081 in Glendale, Ariz., and General Chairperson Billy Moye (GCA CSX-SCL) of Local 1971 in Atlanta, Ga.
Meanwhile, Alternate Vice President Bus – East Alvy Hughes (Local 1596. Charlotte, N.C.) defeated Bonnie Morr (Local 23, Santa Cruz, Calif.) and incumbent Vice President Bus Adhi Reddy (Local 1785, Santa Monica, Calif.) for TD Vice President Bus.
Article 21B, Section 35, of the SMART Constitution provides for a successor to the president of the Transportation Division in the event a vacancy occurs between conventions. To provide for such a contingency, delegates chose TD Vice President-elect Leonard to that position.
Kentucky State Legislative Director Jared Cassity was elected Alternate National Legislative Director. Waverly Harris, TD Alternate Vice President Bus – East, was elected to that position by acclamation.
Alternate Vice President Bus – West Guillermo Rosales was returned to that office, defeating Erskins Robinson, general chairperson of GCA SMB, out of Local 1785.
Among five candidates for four TD alternate vice president positions, Scott Chelette, Gary Crest, Larry Miller Jr. and Christopher Bartz were elected.
SMART TD Board of Appeals members elected by acclamation are Tim Flynn (engine services), Tessa Collins (road service), Rick Pauli (commuter), and Brenda Moore (bus).
Incumbent Kevin Smith won an election and will return as the Board of Appeals yard representative.
Elected to the TD Executive Board by acclamation were California Assistant State Legislative Director Mike Anderson, Dale Gerkin, John Dunn, Rex Allen and New York State Legislative Director Sam Nasca.
Ohio State Legislative Director Stu Gardner was elected Alternate to the Executive Board by acclamation.
The newly elected officers assume their roles officially on Oct. 1.
After nearly three years of mediation with Great Lakes Airlines in conjunction with the National Mediation Board, SMART Transportation Division-represented airline pilots employed by the company have finally reached an agreement with the carrier.
Following several requests by the pilots’ local representatives to the NMB to be released from mediation, the affected pilots and SMART representatives reached a tentative agreement in late June.
A four-year contract with significant wage increases and beneficial work-rule changes was approved Sept. 16 with 80 percent of the ballots cast in support of the deal. GO 040 General Committee of Adjustment Vice Chairperson Diane King reports that 92 percent of all eligible pilots voted.
GO 040 General Committee of Adjustment Chairperson Matthew Klundt said many of the GLA pilots were exasperated by the long ordeal. “The word ‘strike’ kept coming up among our members at local meetings, but we were all relieved when we saw a light at the end of the tunnel in June. I personally thank Transportation Division President John Previsich, Vice President Jeremy Ferguson and other union officers for encouraging our members to let the process play out,” he said.
On average, airline captains will receive an immediate 20 percent pay increase, first officers an immediate 22 percent increase, and certified airline transport pilot first officers will see an immediate 50 to 55 percent pay increase, depending on what aircraft they are operating.
All Great Lakes pilots will then receive additional two to three percent wage increases each year, through 2017. Realistically, the increases will amount to about 5.5 to six percent per year with the longevity increases built into the agreement.
Other wage scales have also been negotiated for pilots operating jet airline service in anticipation of the carrier possibly purchasing those aircraft in the future.
“Hopefully, this will come to fruition soon as the number of passengers using Great Lakes’ services has been steadily shrinking due to competition providing faster jet service,” Ferguson said. “The airline’s flights have also decreased due to pilot shortages created by new Federal Aviation Administration regulations which resulted in GLA pilots being recruited by larger carriers. I think this agreement is a win for both sides.”
The airline currently operates only Beechcraft 1900D and Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia turbo-prop aircraft with available seating ranging from nine to 30 seats.
The new contract also contains the following provisions:
- An increase in the daily allowance for expenses (per diem) rate from $1.35 to $1.50 per hour;
- An improved discipline grievance procedure, allowing for formal investigations with proper notice, including written notification of the charges, time limits on the notice, time limits on when a hearing can be held, the right to cross examine company witnesses and the right to a transcript;
- A limit on pairings or crew pairings that cannot exceed five calendar days (Airline work schedules consist of assignments called “pairings” that are a sequence of flights that begin and end at the same terminal.)
- After two years, an increase in the minimum monthly off days from 10 to 11;
- A requirement that pilots not released from service within four hours of his or her originally scheduled release time shall be considered “involuntarily junior assigned.” Pilots may voluntarily pick up one junior assignment, with pay, at a minimum of four hours above guarantee, but involuntary junior assignments are now paid at 125 percent;
- Vacation accrual rates converted from hours worked per month to weeks worked per year; third-year pilots will now be entitled to two weeks of vacation instead of one, and
- A new agreement section listing hotel/lodging conditions and establishment of a union oversight committee on lodging.
After the tentative agreement was reached in June, several issues remained open for discussion that were resolved by memorandums of understanding. That led to a delay in the ratification vote until September.
Ferguson praised General Chairperson Klundt and Local 40 (Denver) President John Nolan for their patience throughout the negotiating and mediation process. “Both Matt and John were very driven during the entire process and were a huge asset to the negotiating team and their fellow pilots. They were instrumental in getting the final negotiations across the finish line,” he said.
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.
Robert D. Kerley, the senior vice president of the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, has retired, effective Feb. 28. The vice president vacancy in the Transportation Division will be filled by the elevation of Alternate Vice President Jeremy Ferguson by action of the Transportation Division’s board of directors.
Kerley is a member of Local 303 at Springfield, Mo. He began his railroad career as a brakeman for the former St. Louis San Francisco in 1971. He was promoted to conductor in 1973, fireman in 1977 and locomotive engineer in 1978. He served the members of his local as fireman’s local chairperson in 1977, 1979 and 1983. He was elected full-time associate general chairperson on BNSF Railway (GO 001) in 1983 and re-elected to the post until 1999, when he was elected general chairperson.
While continuing to serve as general chairperson, Kerley was elected alternate vice president-West, by delegates at the United Transportation Union’s convention in 2003, and served as secretary of the UTU District No. 1 General Chairperson’s Association for two terms. Since 2004, he has served on the UTU National Negotiating Committee. He also is a member of the UTU Wage and Rules Panel, which works to address ongoing collective bargaining issues at the national level. He was elected full vice president in 2007 and re-elected to that position in 2011. He also has served on the UTU Board of Directors since 2008 and was a member of the SMART General Executive Council.
Reflecting on his career with UTU and SMART, Kerley said “I have thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of both my railroad and union careers and truly appreciate the many opportunities this organization has given me to provide for my loved ones and to serve the membership. I will certainly miss the many friends and colleagues I leave behind, and I wish you all the best in your continued efforts on behalf of working people.”
Ferguson, a member of Local 313 in Grand Rapids, Mich., was born in 1970. He started railroading in 1994 as a conductor on CSX at Grand Rapids. He was promoted to engineer in 1995.
Ferguson was elected local legislative representative in 1995, local chairperson in 1996, and secretary of his general committee, CSX GO 049 in Jacksonville, Fla., in 2007. He was elected second vice general chairperson in 2008 and first vice general chairperson in 2011. He has also served as special representative and organizer for the UTU International starting in 1997.
He is the father of two children and resides in Jacksonville, Fla.
To fill the vacancy created by Ferguson’s elevation, the board of directors has appointed Long Island Rail Road GO 505 General Chairperson Anthony Simon to the office of alternate vice president.
Simon was born June 11, 1963, and raised in the Richmond Hill neighborhood of Queens, New York.
As GO 505 general chairperson, he represents the crafts of conductor, track worker, building and bridge worker, special service attendant, track supervisor, car repairman and car appearance personnel on New York’s Long Island Rail Road. He also serves as the chairperson of the Transportation Division’s Association of General Chairpersons District 1.
Simon hired on with LIRR in 1990 as a station cleaner and was promoted to assistant conductor in 1993. He was certified as a conductor in 1997 and began his career as a union leader soon after.
He first served as a local committee of adjustment secretary and was elevated to the office of local secretary & treasurer in 2000. In 2006, he ran unopposed for the position of general chairperson of the largest union on the LIRR. Simon also served on the Constitution Merger Committee of SMART.
Simon served on the Passenger Hour of Service working group with the Federal Railroad Administration’s Safety Advisory Committee. He organized and implemented a Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund to benefit railroad families in need following the storm and hosts an annual golf fundraiser in support of families on Long Island affected by autism.
He and his wife, Ann, reside in Bethpage, N.Y., with their children, Nicole and Anthony Jr.
The UTU Board of Directors made additional appointments:
* UTU Alternate Vice President Troy Johnson becomes an International vice president, succeeding International Vice President Paul Tibbit, who retired Dec. 1.
* UTU Alternate Vice President John England becomes an International vice president, filling a position vacated by Strunk.
* Vice General Chairperson Jeremy Ferguson (CSX, GO 049) and General Chairperson Brent Leonard (Union Pacific, GO 953) become alternate vice presidents, filling the positions of alternate vice president vacated by Johnson and England.
Additionally, the United Transportation Union Insurance Association (UTUIA) Board of Directors elected Bruce Feltmeyer as general secretary and treasurer of UTUIA, succeeding Kim Thompson in that position. Feltmeyer also holds the position of director of staff at the UTU Headquarters in North Olmsted, Ohio.
Biographies of the new officers are available – or will become available in the case of Ferguson and Leonard – at http://www.utu.org/ by clicking on “About the UTU,” then clicking on “officers” and scrolling down to the names.
Feltmeyer’s biography is available at http://www.utu.org/ by clicking on “About the UTU,” then clicking on “UTU/UTUIA Staff” and scrolling down to his name.