Great challenges are best faced together, and we have encountered many these past few months from those caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to carrier practices that place profits before safety, jeopardizing safe operations that affect the general public and our members.
This year on Labor Day, unity and solidarity is at the forefront of my mind as I am proud to have faced all of these adversities together as fraternal brothers and sisters. We are each other’s keepers.
I think about the “old heads” who take the time to teach the new hires the tricks of the trade and the traps to avoid the knowledge of which takes years of experience to acquire. Or the general or local chairperson who stands up for the member who has been unjustly charged; or just the friendly face of a union brother or sister offering a smile or a helping hand at just the right time when things are not going well.
These traits are summarized well in the overarching “I Got Your Back” campaign SMART has launched.
Members of the Transportation Division protect and support one another, consciously and unconsciously, all the time and on a daily basis. A little recognition of this goes a long way, making “I Got Your Back” a solid way to recognize and show support for those whose contributions sometimes are not given the appreciation or attention that’s so richly deserved.
In the July/August newspaper that is en route to you, General President Joseph Sellers Jr. encourages members to honor a mentor by taking a photo with a person who has served as an inspiration or a protector. If you email that along with a few words about the importance of that TD brother or sister in your career to firstname.lastname@example.org, that person can be recognized.
Truly, the strength of a union does not just come from the elected leaders. At its core, the power of a union comes from the membership and then travels to the leadership. There are only a handful of officers, yet thousands of members. The thousands, when united and energized, can do much more than what a single person can. That’s the power of a collective group. That’s the power of labor. That’s the power of a union!
Labor Day is about YOU. SMART-TD is about YOU. It will take all of us working together to overcome these obstacles we face now and those we will face in the future. However, I fear not as I have your back, and I know you have mine. Together we will face anything that comes our way … united. I am proud to serve alongside each and every one of you.
I do, however, want to take a moment and remember the fallen this Labor Day. We have lost way too many members, brothers and sisters, this past year who were unfortunately killed while performing their duties. Safety is our number one priority and as we work harder than ever toward changing the current culture, we must never lose sight of its importance. We must never forget the fact that our predecessor unions were founded on safety and we, as proud unified labor, will carry on in those same fights now more than ever.
Many of you will be working this Labor Day, and we thank you for your dedication while doing so. I will be out there proudly marching in one of the oldest Labor Day parades in the U.S., shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters of Local 195 in Galesburg, Ill. I look forward to meeting them as I have already met many of you during my recent travels. It is my goal to try attend as many events as possible in efforts to get to know as many of my fellow fraternal brothers and sisters as possible.
May God bless you and keep you safe.
Jeremy R. Ferguson
President, Transportation Division