Biden administration joins union’s fight to protect bus and transit workforce

December 27, 2023

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (Dec. 27, 2023) – The International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, and Rail Transportation Workers Transportation Division (SMART-TD) has been calling for years for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to address the epidemic of violent assaults facing our bus and transit members in their workplaces.

As an organization, this union has been out in front of this issue, raising awareness of the problem with transit carriers, legislators and by directly reaching out to FTA with a laundry list of proposed solutions to the problem. Internally, the union has established the Bus/Transit Assault Prevention and Safety (BTAPS) Committee aimed at focusing the strength of our union on this life-and-death issue.

Just recently, news programs on NBC and MSNBC showed the grim reality of the violence bus and transit workers have faced on the job and the need to gain better protections for these essential transportation workers.

SMART-TD, BTAPS and our men and women on the front line have gained an impressive ally in this struggle. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris called for FTA to implement Public Transportation Agency Safety Plans (PTASP) in all large urban areas developed by on-property committees. The groups, comprised of equal members of workers and representatives of management, will be charged with conducting system-specific safety risk assessments.

After the assessments are completed, appropriate mitigation measures and strategies will be identified to address the problems identified in their assessments. A general directive from the Biden-Harris administration calls for the assessments, mitigations and the monitoring of their effect to be overseen directly by FTA.

SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson was excited to hear the news of Biden’s personal involvement in putting an end to the rise of violence against our members.

“This union’s leaders on the bus and transit side of TD have been discussing this issue and proposing solutions. We have had strong legislation at the state level from several of our State Legislative Directors Ron Sabol in New Jersey, Bob Guy in Illinois, Don Roach in Michigan, and Louis Costa in California among others. Some of our General Committee Chairman have been leading the charge on this issue as well. Jerome Johnson on New Jersey Transit, Anthony Simon from the Long Island Railroad and Anthony Petty from SEPTA in Philadelphia jump to mind, among many other strong GC’s who have been with us in this fight.” Ferguson said. “This administration has given proof positive with this directive that we are being heard and that we have not only a friend but a strategic partner in the White House. The directive echoes some of the most important points this organization made to the FTA earlier this year. The door is open for SMART to work hand in hand with the FTA and all other facets of the federal government to protect our members better than we ever could have before.”

“This strong mandate will amplify the efforts of our new BTAPS Committee led by Chairperson Christine Ivey, and the administration’s leadership will allow our ideas on changes to equipment and policy to take root throughout the country. This is a great sign for our union and for working men and women throughout the transportation industry that the need for improvement in protecting bus and transit workers from violence cannot be ignored.”

If you would like more information on the administration’s general directive, and SMART-TD’s plans to maximize the leverage it gives our efforts, we would be happy to put you in touch with:

SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy Ferguson

President Jeremy Ferguson, a member of Local 313 in Grand Rapids, Mich., was elected president of SMART’s Transportation Division in 2019.

President Ferguson, an Army veteran, started railroading in 1994 as a conductor on CSX at Grand Rapids, Mich., and was promoted to engineer in 1995. Ferguson headed the recent national rail negotiations for the union with the nation’s rail carriers.

SMART Transportation BTAPS Committee Chairperson Christine Ivey

Christine Ivey, a member of Local 1785 in Santa Monica, California, was appointed chairperson of the BTAPS Committee in the summer of 2023 and has been pivotal in the committee’s founding. Sister Ivey has been a bus operator for 30 years and has been working for the City of Santa Monica’s Municipal Bus Lines (Big Blue Bus) since 2014.

SMART Transportation Division Bus Department Sr. Vice President Alvy Hughes

Vice President Hughes, a member of Local 1596 out of Charlotte, N.C., began his career in transportation with the Charlotte Area Transportation System (CATS) in 1999 and has been a SMART-TD member ever since. Hughes was an Alternate Vice President at SMART-TD from 2014 through 2019 when he was elevated to his current role as vice president.