An outage has affected access to SMART’s computer network, including functions of the SMART app. Full restoration of those is anticipated shortly. Restoration of the SM job bank and all Member Portal access is complete. Officer access to TD Connect and other services has been restored. Your patience is greatly appreciated.
“Donald Trump says he’ll make America great by being tough on trade, building things and creating jobs. Sure, it sounds good, but Trump is forgetting one thing: actions really do speak louder than words. Not only has Trump failed to share any semblance of a plan for how he’ll do the things he so arrogantly brags about, but the GOP platform — which he now owns — is nothing more than a how-to manual for the destruction of the American middle class and our country’s transportation system. You’d think it can’t get worse, but it does” – Ed Wytkind, President, Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO. Read his complete column here.
By Larry I. Willis, AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department Secretary-Treasurer
Unfortunately, the anti-growth, anti-government movement is alive and well. Heck, we have extremists in the GOP who think House Speaker Paul Ryan is too moderate.I had the honor last week of speaking to IBEW members at their Railroad Department and Government Employees Conference. I had a chance to talk about what is at stake in this election and the challenges we face as a country. We need a president and a Congress who embrace what we know: that a strong, safe, vibrant transportation system will be the backbone of any economic expansion and the fuel to rebuild our shrinking middle-class. Turning directly to who is now the presumptive Republican nominee, I pulled no punches:
“Donald Trump has tapped into an electorate that is frustrated, scared and sick and tired of Washington politics. His ability to register and connect with voters, even if limited to parts of the Republican base, shouldn’t be ignored. I can assure you we won’t ignore it. We know there are millions of voters who have been harmed by policies and economic conditions that are responsible for plant closures, reckless outsourcing and declining wages, and who might pull the lever for a candidate who promises to make our country “great again.” Our job is to explain that supporting working people is about more than making empty speeches. Supporting working families is about actually advancing a vision and prescribing solutions. “At many levels, it really isn’t hard to understand the initial, visceral appeal Trump may have with people struggling in this economy. He talks a good game on trade but manages to sidestep the fact that his billionaire class is responsible for dotting the globe with sweatshops whose employees replaced workers here in America. He promises to build a wall on the southern border, a podium line that speaks to the feelings, maybe buried in the subconscious of some people, that it will prevent someone else, not from here, from taking their jobs and lowering wages. It is the classic blame game and Trump is all in with this strategy. “Once you get past the bluster, Donald Trump is absolutely no friend of working families. While pretending to embrace an economic populist message, the billionaire told a national debate audience that wages in this country are “too high.” “He claims that he has worked with unions, but he embraces completely the right-to-work agenda that we know would gut the labor movement and hollow out our ability to represent our members and secure good contracts. But I guess if you think wages are too high, it makes sense to destroy the only institution that can actually raise wages and bring collective strength to the bargaining table. “He tells voters that when he is elected president, he will force Apple and Ford and Nabisco, among others, to bring their production back to the U.S. At the same time his own line of suits and ties are made in China and Mexico. I wonder if he’ll force the Trump Empire to produce those suits and ties in America. “When workers at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas wanted a union voice, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) alleged that the hotel fired or threatened union supporters, suspended employees and maintained illegal rules that prohibited workers from talking to each other. So much for democracy. “His anti-worker plank is bad enough, but it is his reliance on hatred, racism, chauvinism and xenophobia to support his agenda and to guide his vision for this country that should scare the hell out of us. “We must reject bigotry and divisiveness from any candidate for any office, but especially from those auditioning to lead our nation. Making America great should be about rebuilding the country – its infrastructure, transportation system and public institutions – giving millions the chance at the middle class through strong unions, and embracing the diversity of this nation, not exploiting it to advance a dangerous agenda that would turn the clock back on decades of progress. “Simply put, Donald Trump is not only unfit to be president, he represents a danger to our democracy that we cannot allow to stand.”
I also noted that it might be easy – given recent polling – to underestimate Donald Trump in a general election. Sixteen defeated Republican candidates made that mistake. The stakes are too high and the voters are too angry to take any election outcome for granted. We must do everything we can to make sure union members know the facts come November. This article originally appeared on the TTD’s MoveAmerica Blog.
In a letter to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), endorsed better oversight of curbside bus operators. In there letter, the TTD says “the passenger bus sector must be held to one standard of safety and curbside operators should not be allowed to operate unsafe vehicles, violate hours of service rule or avoid compliance with driver screening regulation simply because of where they pick up passengers.” Their letter to the FMCSA is on behalf of 32 affiliated unions, of which SMART is a part. Click here to read the letter.
Ed Wytkind, President of TTD, AFL-CIO, John Previsich, President of SMART Transportation Division and other union leaders have released a joint letter to Anthony Foxx, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), urging the DOT to issue a rule “to protect bus drivers and other transit operators from the physical assaults that are plaguing this industry.” Read the complete letter, here.
Transportation Unions’ agenda focuses on job creation, safety and appropriations
2016 Presidential Election Preparations Advance San Diego, Calif. — Transportation unions took aim at critical transportation appropriations battles pending in Washington and continued preparations to show their members and the public the stark choices voters will face in the presidential election. “We are committed to countering the dangerous austerity agenda in certain corners of Congress that threatens to starve job creation investments in transportation,” said Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), following the winter meeting of the organization’s 32-member Executive Committee, held yesterday. “We will also focus on critical safety issues plaguing our sector and fighting corporate efforts to weaken the job security and collective bargaining rights of transportation workers.” Executive Committee members discussed their priorities with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR), the lead Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Charlie Cook, political analyst and editor and publisher of The Cook Political Report, provided a snapshot on the state of the presidential race and key U.S. Senate contests. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka held a roundtable with transportation union leaders that focused on pending policy priorities and collective bargaining battles in 2016. Transportation unions put their weight behind legislation that imposes stiffer criminal penalties on anyone who assaults airline customer service representatives. “We have seen an increase in attacks on gate and ticket agents – it is time for Congress and the airline companies to better protect these employees,” Wytkind said. TTD affiliates joined the growing chorus of opposition to Canadian Pacific’s attempted hostile takeover of Norfolk Southern, citing “the devastating impact these transactions can have on jobs, freight service and safety.” While praising Congress for boosting authorized funding levels for the Maritime Security Program (MSP), which provides vital sealift capacity to the Department of Defense, the Executive Committee vowed to push congressional appropriators and the Obama Administration to fully fund the program. “Funding MSP is vital to national security and it supports middle class U.S. mariner jobs,” Wytkind said. Transportation union leaders also condemned underhanded attacks — disguised as measures to monitor the productivity of U.S. ports — on the rights of longshore workers to bargain for job security, and good wages and benefits. “We will not let the world’s largest retailers and their army of lobbyists eviscerate the bargaining rights of the men and women in our ports,” Wytkind said. The Executive Committee called for immediate funding of the federal-state compact to build-out the Gateway Project. That project will fix a transportation crisis on the Northeast Corridor that promises to “reverberate across the entire economy” if Amtrak is forced to start shutting down century-old tunnels or severely deteriorated bridges in a region that supports 30 percent of the nation’s jobs. Transportation unions also urged Congress to ensure that measures to boost aviation security strike the appropriate balance between protecting against terrorist threats and honoring the “legitimate rights of employees.” Transportation unions focused on the upcoming presidential election with an agreement to work together in rolling out the views and records of the Republican and Democratic nominee for president. “We are already seeing in this race a contest between candidates who want to massively rebuild our transportation system and expand our middle class, and those who will likely pursue a dangerous austerity agenda tantamount to economic retreat,” Wytkind added.
In a letter to the editor and published by The Hill, AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department (TTD) President Edward Wytkind warns that GOP presidential candidates want to devolutionize laws governing freight and passenger rail in the U.S. The candidates are in support of deregulating the current rail laws and funding and turning it over to each individual state to mete out transportation policy and funding. GOP candidates Ohio Governor John Kasich, Jeb Bush and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (Fla.) have come out in support of devolution of transportation policy and funding. “…we must not accept candidates for president who fail to grasp the magnitude of this transportation investment crisis, and who advance policies that would make us a loser in the increasingly competitive global economy,” Wytkind said. “We need a vast transportation system that can deliver goods and people safely and with speed and precision, not some piecemeal experiment dreamed up by anti-government crusaders who can’t seem to get out of their own way.” Click here to read the full story from The Hill.
Yesterday (January 11), the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case you may have heard about — Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (CTA).
The gist of the case is this: many California public school teachers are members of CTA. Like all union members, California teachers can choose whether or not to join the union. However, when the majority of people vote to form a union (as is the case with California school teachers), the union is required by law to represent everyone in the workplace, whether that employee is a union member or not. Teachers who don’t want to belong to a union only have to contribute to the costs of the representation they receive. Because all teachers enjoy the benefits, job security and other protections the union negotiates, it is only fair that all employees contribute to the cost of securing those benefits and protections.
Pretty simple, right? Not so fast. Those challenging this common-sense system argue that simply paying fair-share fees is a violation of free speech.
So why should transportation workers across the country care about teachers in California?
Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (CTA) is an orchestrated, malicious attack on workers’ rights. This case isn’t just about teachers in California—it’s about weakening the rights of workers, specifically those employed in the public sector. The group behind the court case is the Center for Individual Rights, which has ties to greedy CEOs and wealthy special interests. If the court finds that teachers no longer have to pay fair-share fees (and sides with those wealthy extremists), teacher unions (and all other public sector unions) will lose considerable strength and leverage. By the way, if details of this case sound familiar to you, it’s because they are. The same special interests that backed Gov. Scott Walker’s attack on public sector workers in Wisconsin in 2011 are the same groups and individuals at play here.
Many transportation workers are public sector workers. Transportation workers account for less than 3 percent of all public sector workers, but nearly 50 percent of those workers are covered by collective bargaining agreements. A bad decision by the Supreme Court could significantly weaken the power these workers have to stand up for basic workplace rights, like fair wages and safe working conditions.
A bad decision by the Supreme Court will only make the rich richer. For far too long, America’s economy has unfairly favored the wealthy at the expense of ordinary people. Our middle class is shrinking and it’s getting harder to get by, let alone get ahead. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, things will only get worse. That’s because unions act as a check against corporate power. When unions are weak, corporate CEOs and wealthy individuals have more power to manipulate the rules in their favor and exploit working people.
$5.4 billion — that’s how much public transit agencies collectively spend on buses and trains each year.
U.S. public transportation authorities are using taxpayers’ dollars to employ Americans. Well, sort of — there’s a lot of room for improvement. Thanks to weak laws and procurement rules, taxpayer dollars all too often reward low-road companies that pay poor wages and routinely game our domestic content rules to manufacture just the minimum here in America.
That’s why transportation unions have long supported policies that raise domestic content standards for transit and rail purchases made with federal funds — the same kind of laws found in the recently passed Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. In addition to being the first long-term, bipartisan surface transportation bill in a decade, the FAST Act raises Buy America standards for transit vehicles from a 60 percent minimum to a 70 percent minimum domestic content.
This is a great next step in our effort to beef up transportation manufacturing jobs, but we aren’t stopping now: the goal must be 100% domestic content for publicly funded transit and rail equipment orders. Unfortunately, changes to procurement laws alone aren’t enough to get us there. In fact, a new report by economist Robert Pollin and the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) shows more can and needs to be done to ensure that investments in our nation’s transportation infrastructure help sustain domestic manufacturing and the millions of jobs the sector supports. The report, titled Strengthening U.S. Manufacturing Through Public Procurement Policies, focuses on railcar procurements, but its lessons can be applied to the broader Buy America program.
The report finds that:
60 is the new 40. Under law, 60 percent of component production and 100 percent of final assembly of railcar manufacturing are supposed to happen in the U.S. However, as the authors show, for a variety of reasons, these standards amount to an overall requirement of only 40 percent domestic production.
Monitoring and enforcement standards are a weak link. Because few local transit agencies have adequate capacity to conduct audits in-house and public interest groups face major obstacles in obtaining relevant compliance information, the monitoring and enforcement of domestic content requirements leave much to be desired.
Too many waivers are still granted. Available evidence suggests that a significant number of domestic content waivers are being granted to contractors bidding on transportation procurement projects covered under Buy America. The good news? Under the Obama Administration, the wavier process has improved significantly. But there’s more work that needs to be done. The Department of Transportation needs to keep systematic records on waiver applications and decisions and to establish consistently high thresholds for granting waivers.
As the authors of the study point out, we must pair stronger laws with straightforward, effective measures that encourage public transportation agencies to consider the impact of their purchases here at home. Some of the plans outlined in the report — including changes to Request for Proposal (RFP) procedures — are the same kind of forward-thinking measures being pushed by the Jobs to Move America Coalition, of which TTD has been a member since 2013. They include incentivizing companies that bid on publicly-funded transportation equipment orders to describe the number and quality of jobs that would be created from a contract, and encouraging local transit authorities to select bids based on best value instead of just the lowest price. This new approach rewards employers that train their workers and make a genuine effort to hire people from disadvantaged populations including, for example, veterans and single mothers.
These kinds of smart procurement strategies act as a win-win for all parties involved: public transportation dollars help create good transportation manufacturing jobs here at home; transit agencies purchase high-quality, American-made components; and high-road manufacturers are rewarded for lifting labor standards and keeping buses and trains made in the USA.
Washington — Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issued this statement in response to a House-Senate deal on a long overdue surface transportation reauthorization bill:
“The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act is a bipartisan, long-term funding bill for our nation’s transit systems, highways, bridges and passenger rail networks that we are proud to support. The deal reached by House and Senate negotiators breaks the cycle of flat-line funding and short-term extensions that has strangled our economy and stunted job creation. We applaud Congressional leaders for their work on this important legislation and particularly want to thank Chairman Shuster, Ranking Member DeFazio, Chairman Inhofe and Ranking Member Boxer for their pursuit of a long-term bill.
“TTD and its member unions have never relented in our multi-year campaign to convince lawmakers to forge a bipartisan compromise on a long-term highway-transit bill that prioritizes funding growth and job creation. We applaud lawmakers for crafting a bill that makes great strides in reversing many years of neglect.
“The FAST Act strikes the right balance on many of the important policy issues that were considered in this legislation. The bill includes measures to address bus driver assaults, handles transit public-private partnerships in a more responsible manner, improves Buy America rules and makes improvements to rail safety and the transport of hazardous materials. Conferees wisely chose not to use this bill to attack the bargaining rights of port workers, adopted provisions that preserve the role of sound science in determining the appropriateness of hair specimen drug testing and rejected an attempt to force contracting out of public-sector engineering work.
“We are pleased that the FAST Act contains a multi-year Amtrak reauthorization that will help sustain America’s national passenger railroad, protect thousands of middle-class jobs and allow Amtrak and its employees to meet the soaring demand for rail transportation. Finally, the bill includes the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, which will help American manufacturers and their employees compete with foreign companies and support good middle-class jobs in this country.
“We urge both chambers to pass the FAST Act and send it to the President’s Desk for his signature.”
It’s that time of year again. Americans across the country will get ready for the time-honored tradition of gathering with family and friends to give thanks. But first, they will agonize – possibly panic – over how to get where they’re going on the busiest travel day of the year. The latter isn’t exactly how Norman Rockwell depicts this day — but it is reality.
Forty-two million travelers will hit the road or take to the skies. Before that grand turkey feast graces their dinner tables, Americans will first have to endure long lines, suffocating traffic, canceled, delayed and overbooked flights, and lots of stress. It is on this day when we feel the true consequences of letting our transportation system and infrastructure fall apart.
Yes, Congress is poised to pass a long-term surface transportation bill — the first of its kind in a decade. But that doesn’t change the fact that, right now, there are 70,000 bridges in the U.S. in need of replacement or repair, transit systems choked by anemic budgets, Amtrak trains running through century-old tunnels, millions of miles of neglected highways, an aviation system operating with severely outdated technology and a maritime system, including ports, suffering from decades of neglect.
As frustrated as travelers may feel, there’s a group of people who understand their concerns all too well: the men and women who keep America moving. Transportation employees know, probably more than anyone else, that this country can and must do better when it comes to making travel safe and efficient. After all, they, too, contend with the consequences of a neglected transportation system — and they do so on a daily basis.
Talk to a transportation worker, and you’ll hear about more than just poor infrastructure. They’ll tell you stories about staffing shortages, obsolete and outdated equipment, fatigue on the job, belligerent employers, supposed cost-saving schemes that hurt customers and workers alike, and attacks on bargaining rights. You’ll hear about budget cuts that undermine safety and reliability, and threaten good wages, benefits and job security.
You’ll also hear about dedication, hard work and responsibility. That’s because, despite the immense challenges they face, the men and women who keep America moving remain focused on the needs of the people and country they serve. America’s transportation workforce understands that no matter what obstacles they face, their priority is transporting people and goods as safely and efficiently as possible. Many will give up or postpone Thanksgiving plans with family and friends to accommodate the needs of the traveling public. And that — putting others before yourself — is what the season of giving is all about.
This Thanksgiving, pause for a moment and give thanks to the people who operate, maintain and build our transportation systems. Their commitment to getting the job done is what keeps our journeys safe. Their commitment to service helps make holidays, including the one we’re about to celebrate, possible.