In a rare acknowledgment of the value railroaders bring to the table, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) has named October 15 as “Railroad Workers Day”.

Gov. Murphy went on the record saying, “Through extreme weather events and a global pandemic, our state’s railroad workers have demonstrated extraordinary bravery despite significant obstacles. Their courage, as well as their role as the backbone of our state’s expanding transportation network, must not be overlooked. On October 15th – and every day – we honor the contributions of our workers not just as employees, but as New Jerseyans committed to promoting safety, efficiency, and economic activity in our local communities.”

By signing Senate Joint Resolution 86 (SJR 86), Gov. Murphy is giving a spotlight to rail labor in a moment when that light is desperately needed. As SMART-TD and other rail labor organizations engage in national rail labor negotiations with carriers who are willfully blind to the sacrifice and professionalism that our members embody, it is refreshing to hear that our answer to the call of duty has not gone unheard or unnoticed.

“Railroads continue to serve a crucial, and often overlooked, role in our society. Whether in transporting consumer goods or helping commuters get to and from work, we rely on rail services and railroad workers to keep our economy afloat,” said Assemblyman Daniel Benson (D), chair of the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee. “By designating October 15th as New Jersey Railroad Workers Day, we carve out time to recognize the invaluable service railroad workers provide for the people of New Jersey.” 

N.J. State Sen. Patrick J. Diegnan (D) was the primary sponsor of SJR 86 and cited rail labor’s persistence through COVID-19 as one of the reasons he felt it necessary to push this resolution through. In reference to our efforts, Diegnan said, “Without their contributions, the pandemic’s adverse impact on New Jersey and its residents would have been exacerbated. These workers put themselves and their families at risk for the benefit of the entire state. This recognition is a token of our appreciation for the dedication and sacrifices of all railroad workers. I am extremely proud to be a part of establishing the annual ‘New Jersey Railroad Workers Day.’”

For his part, SMART-TD New Jersey State Legislative Director (SLD) Ron Sabol said, “The men and women moving freight and passengers through the pandemic were not only essential workers, they should be viewed as heroic. Wherever there is a crisis going on, you have railroaders putting it on the line to fix it.   Where there are wars, railroad infrastructure is always on the list of targets. Much is asked of our men and women, whether it means getting supplies to store shelves and nurses to their shifts during COVID or getting people out of the Ukraine to avoid civilian casualties. Railroad workers are getting it done everywhere you look. This consistent selflessness in times of chaos is why I thought it was important to get this bill done. These men and women deserve recognition and respect.”

SMART-TD would like to thank SLD Sabol, state Sen. Diegnan, Assembly Transportation Chairman Benson, Gov. Murphy and the state of New Jersey for putting in the work to get this bill through the legislative process. We look forward to celebrating Railroad Workers Day with you in your state for years to come.

On March 19, 2022, the SM Local 27 (Southern N.J.) SMART Army filled 42 contractor trash bags with litter during a trash cleanup spanning two miles of Silver Run Road in Millville, N.J. Local 27 Business Agent John Whittington and his son joined members Don Cooper, Ken Andeloro, Mike Mendez, John David­son, Pete Polumbo, Malcolm Hill, John Manera, Jaden Sheppard, Dave Cooper, Mark Weatherby, Clarence Harris, Organizer Greg Goble and Business Agent Matt Johnson for the effort.

A rail crossing vegetation maintenance bill S. 3425 was signed Jan. 9 by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. Attendees at the signing included, from left, Sheny Mendez, SMART-TD Local 759 legislative representative; Victor Amo-Krah, SMART-TD Local 1413 legislative representative; 26th District Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce; 19th District Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez; in the far back is 14th District Assemblyman Dan Benson, the Assembly Transportation chairman; immediately behind Lopez is bill primary sponsor Sen. Pat Diegnan, the Senate Transportation Chairman; Gov. Murphy; N.J. DOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti; SMART-TD General Chairperson Jerome Johnson (GCA-610); SMART-TD New Jersey State Legislative Director Ron Sabol; Dave Rasmussen, SMART-TD Local 60 legislative representative; and SMART-TD General Chairperson Gordon Harris (GCA-877).

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed S. 3425 into law on Jan. 9, a bill requiring rail carriers to maintain vegetation near and around crossings in the state.
The bill passed through the New Jersey Senate last May by a unanimous 35-0 vote and later in December was approved unanimously by the state’s Assembly.
It requires vegetation to be cleared by at least 300 feet from crossings by rail carriers. If the carriers do not comply within 15 days of receiving written notice that a crossing must be cleared, then the state Department of Transportation will clear the vegetation and charge the carriers for the cost of doing so.
“Excessive vegetation has the potential to cause harm to commuters, railroad workers, and many others,” said SMART-TD New Jersey State Legislative Director Ronald Sabol. “Thank you to the governor for signing this important legislation that will improve safety across our statewide rail system.”
Sen. Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. of New Jersey’s 18th District was the bill’s primary sponsor.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced last week that Florida, New Jersey and New York have obtained federal certification of their rail transit State Safety Oversight (SSO) programs.
The three states were the last of 30 to get the required approval before a mid-April federal deadline.
Federal law requires states with rail transit systems to obtain FTA certification of their SSO programs by April 15, 2019.
“FTA is pleased that Florida, New Jersey and New York have developed safety oversight programs that meet federal certification requirements and will strengthen rail transit safety,” said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams.
Read the full press release here.

A bill called the Transportation Funding Fairness Act (TFFA), introduced by first-term U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski (D) of New Jersey, would give more latitude for states to use federal funds to help pay for projects, such as the Gateway Tunnel between New York and New Jersey.
“The TFFA will clear one of the obstacles the administration has placed in the path of building Gateway, and other similar projects around the country,” Malinowski said in a press release. “Funding for infrastructure is one issue on which I think the Congress can make progress this year, and this bill can be an important part of that effort.”
The bill (H.R.731), introduced Jan. 23, had seven co-sponsors as of Jan. 28 and the endorsement of SMART Transportation Division and the Amalgamated Transit Union.
“SMART Transportation Division supports The Transportation Funding Fairness Act,” New Jersey State Legislative Director Ron Sabol said in the release. “It’s about time we get funding fairness for our much needed infrastructure projects.”
Read the full release from Malinowski’s office.


Retired New Jersey State Legislative Director Daniel O’Connell recently won a runoff election for Burlington County freeholder.
According to the New Jersey Globe, O’Connell defeated contender Gina LaPlaca by 10 votes, 190-180, in the election that took place Jan. 19.
“I want to thank everybody that helped me, especially my Delran political family … I couldn’t have done any of this without you,” O’Connell said in a statement to the New Jersey Globe.
Freeholders in New Jersey hold a position similar to county commissioners in other states. The term goes back to New Jersey’s colonial roots.
O’Connell won re-election as a Delran Township councilman this past November. With his election as freeholder, O’Connell is required to step down from that seat.
O’Connell’s term as freeholder begins immediately, and he will have to run for election to fill the remaining two years of the term on the November ballot.
“Working for the UTU/SMART TD, along with our affiliation with the NJ State AFL-CIO, showed me the importance of having rank and file union members serve in a variety of elected offices,” O’Connell told SMART TD. “From school boards to city, county, state and even federal office, it shows people that we — union members — have something to offer our communities and helps show that — unlike how some would portray us — we’re not greedy, self-centered people, but that we care about others.”
Click here to read more from the New Jersey Globe.

NEWARK, N.J. — Jennifer “Cookie” Doyle reports that SMART Transportation Local 60 will hold a “Railmen for Children” charity bike run July 28. Registration begins at 10 a.m. and goes until 11 a.m., when motorcycle riders will start the run.
The cost of this event is a donation of $20 per person. The ride begins and ends at the Tramontin Harley-Davidson, 482 Hope Blairstown Road, Hope, NJ 07844. Riders will be fully escorted by the Blue Knights NJ8. Food and a live band will be provided after the ride concludes.
All members and locals of SMART are welcome to attend. All signups will be done the day of the event. For questions, contact Doyle at 973-219-2968.
Event T-shirts are available in red, blue, orange and tan for $15 each. See James Tufano or Richie Fryer in Hoboken or email and include your name address size and color.
Established by New Jersey Transit conductors and engineers, Railmen for Children brings joy and laughter to more than 300 special needs children each year via the “Santa Claus Express.”
All proceeds from the bike run goes to support the Santa Claus Express.

New Jersey State Legislative Director Ronald E. Sabol reports that the N.J. State Legislative Board (SLB) has announced their endorsements for candidates running for election Nov. 7, 2017.
“The NJSLB would like to remind all of our N.J. members Election Day is November 7th and that they will be voting for governor as well as all N.J. Senate and Assembly seats,” Sabol said. “Anyone wishing to see the NJSLB’s election recommendations can do so by visiting our website.”
Click here to view their endorsements. Click here to visit the NJ SLB & Local 60’s website.

N.J. State Legislative Director Ron Sabol (left) and New Jersey Transit General Chairperson Steve Burkert (right) endorse Phil Murphy (center), N.J.’s democratic candidate for governor.