Transportation Division President Jeremy Ferguson issued the following statement on May 17, 2024:

“SMART-TD is in full support of the 130 unionized firefighters in Washington struggling to obtain a fair contract with one of the biggest airplane manufacturers in the world. Boeing executives and management apparently have learned nothing from prior experience where they’ve decided that only they know best and then find out the opposite. Instead, they’ve decided to irresponsibly disregard the offers they’ve received from dedicated unionized employees and have locked them out.”

“The IAFF often has acted on behalf of SMART-TD’s rail workers when we seek legislation that makes both our members and their people safer, including in Washington state. At this moment, the firefighters need our support and solidarity. They absolutely have it.

“Already we’ve had many of our Local 324 members in Seattle, including Troy Shtogren, contribute to the strike fund. They’re bolstering the firefighters’ strength in their action against Boeing and observing the picket line as well. We’re going to keep it up until the IAFF members get a resolution that they’re satisfied with.”

Information on how to support the locked-out IAFF workers

A second and final overflow room block for the SMART-TD National Training Seminar in July has been acquired.


  • Hotel: Hampton Inn, Cleveland Downtown
  • Address: 1460 E. Ninth St., Cleveland, Ohio, 44114
  • Rate: $179/night
  • Booking deadline: Saturday, June 8, 2024

How to book: Rooms can be booked online by following this link. Alternatively, reservations can be made by calling 216-241-6600.

Convenient location: The Hampton Inn is an eight-minute walk from the NTS host site at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown, 100 Lakeside Ave. E., Cleveland, OH 44114.

Inquiries: If you have any questions or need further information about the NTS, please contact the Transportation Division at 216-228-9400 or email Nick Torres at

If space at the Hampton Inn sells out, additional attendees for the NTS will be responsible for finding their own lodging.

SMART Transportation Division and the trustees of the Discipline Income Protection Program (DIPP) are pleased to announce a reduction in monthly assessments for participants.

Effective July 1, 2024, the monthly assessment for participants will be reduced from 50 to 32 cents per $1 of daily benefit coverage. This reduction and a 90% + approval on all new claims make DIPP the premier option in the industry.

Daily benefit $100$150$200$250
SMART DIPP$32.00/mo.$48.00/mo.$64.00/mo.$80.00/mo.
(No. 16)
SMART’s Discipline Income Protection Program surpasses the alternatives in member value and protection.

DIPP coverage ranges from $6 to $250 per day, ensuring that a participant covered by the plan who is suspended, dismissed, or removed from service by a carrier for alleged violation of rules or operating procedures will continue to receive income.

Participants can also elect to increase their benefit level or modify their coverage at any time by submitting the appropriate form to the DIPP office.

This announcement is informational, and participants do not need to take any action now. However, the reduction in assessments will be communicated to local treasurers so that the necessary changes to current participants’ payroll deductions can be made in a timely manner before July 1.

DIPP trustees are SMART General President Michael Coleman, SMART General Secretary-Treasurer Joseph Powell, and SMART-TD President Jeremy R. Ferguson. For more information on DIPP, visit the SMART website or email for further details.

The life of Local 821 Trustee Robert Zavala Jr. was cut short after a fatal car accident April 19, and an online fundraiser has been created to help his family.

Brother Zavala joined the union in 2018 and began as a member of Local 756 in San Antonio before transferring to Local 821 (Del Rio, Texas). He had taken his first local officer position as a Local 821 trustee at the beginning of this year and worked as a conductor for Union Pacific.

“He was well-respected and a good union brother — always willing to help,” Alt. Vice President and General Chairperson Scott Chelette said.

An online fundraiser has been established for the family of Local 821 Trustee Robert Zavala, center, who died as a result of a car accident on April 19.

Brother Zavala’s wife, son and daughter also were in the vehicle during the family’s accident. His wife and son were treated and released from the hospital while daughter Pilar faces a series of surgeries and a long path to recovery.

Please contribute if able as members of Brother Zavala’s family try to heal from their injuries and the loss of a beloved father and husband.

Details about services and a full obituary will be shared when made available.

SMART-TD offers its sincere condolences to Brother Zavala’s family, friends and to his brothers and sisters in Local 821.

As of April 18, the suspect remained at large with no reports of an arrest out of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

General Chairperson John Ellis issued the following public statement on April 18:

“SMART’s Union represents 5,000 Bus and Rail Operators. Our priority has always been the safety of our Brothers and Sisters as they carry out an essential transportation public service.  These distressing incidents MUST stop.  No one should have to endure these traumatic encounters whether as a passenger or one of our members.

“I continually speak on behalf of our members and have emphasized the critical importance of implementing the safety barriers on all buses. The urgency of this matter cannot be overstated. No one should have a fear of going to work and they should all feel safe.

“I am viewing a barrier prototype on display this afternoon. The enclosure is designed to provide our Operators a sense of protection. After Operator input and endless meetings with Metro, today’s viewing will be the first step to approve the mass production of the retro fit of enclosures on Metro’s fleet for the driver’s area. 

“Together we are united in our commitment to create a secure and safe work environment for our members who are essential heroes.”

At 8:30 p.m. April 13, one of our SMART Transportation Division members was brutally attacked on the job. As of now, the suspected attacker has not been arrested and is still on the loose.

SMART-TD wants all of our bus and transit members in the L.A. area to be on the lookout for the suspect in this attack. Please do not allow this man, who is being sought by law enforcement, to enter your bus or train. He is considered to be armed and dangerous.

If you have any information on the whereabouts of this man, please contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department at (213) 541-2558.

Local 1594: Our brothers and sisters working on the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) recently won a new level of job security.

SEPTA is the only property where SMART-TD members operate commuter rail, bus, and trollies. These three classifications have different job duties, each with unique challenges. Unfortunately, our men and women working for SEPTA could be reassigned to any of the three crafts without a say in the matter.

If they didn’t pass the tests after being trained for a new job, the employee got fired. Even if you were a great employee for two years in the bus department, if you didn’t pass the exam after training to operate rail or a trolley, you got let go.  

There is no justice in this practice. Until now, General Chairperson Anthony Petty of Local 1594, which represents our SEPTA members, set out to change this.

GC Petty and Bus Department Vice President James Sandoval were aware that the contract was not under negotiation, but they were determined to change the policy. They refused to let this problem fester until the following contract was hashed out, and neither wanted to tie the outcome of this request to the conditions of a larger negotiation.

They took the fight directly to SEPTA as a stand-alone issue and got the win they were after! SEPTA sent GC Petty a formal side letter on March 18 informing him that language had been added to Local 1594’s contract stating that any employee outside of their initial training who “fails the rail portion of training will be permitted to transfer to bus operations.”

This might sound minor, but this is a victory for our Bus Department that will directly preserve our men and women’s careers. Our SEPTA bus operators now have a safety net ready to catch them when their boss orders them to learn how to be railroaders in the middle of their careers as bus operators. Now there’s a safety net courtesy of Brothers Sandoval, Petty and the amazing team at Local 1594.

SMART-TD honors the work, creativity, and persistence demonstrated by our officers in solving this problem for their fellow members. If your manager introduces a policy that seems unjust or threatens the security of your livelihood contact your local union officers. Together we can reverse unfair decisions and defend your right to a just and secure workplace.

Working on the railroad is a very accurate metaphor for life. Nothing is predictable; everything is earned rather than given. When something breaks down, it’s on each of us to fix it by ourselves, no matter what.

The way we feel walking a train in the middle of nowhere at 3 a.m., two miles from the head end, armed with nothing but a lantern, is similar to the way we feel when we realize that our streak broke in the hotel. We aren’t going to be off for the 48 hours we thought we were. Those plans we had with our family are in jeopardy — we won’t get to our kid’s concert or wrestling match like we promised without a miracle.

We feel alone.

In these moments, we need to remember that we are not alone. Much like a wrestler standing on the mat facing down an opponent, we might be by ourselves, but we have a team supporting us. Railroaders are alone on the job, but we are alone together. This is the foundation of our union.

 When you walk that train in the 3 a.m. darkness, your lantern is with you. You can use your lantern to get the information you need to do your job well, like to see car numbers in the pitch-black darkness or shed light on a mechanical issue. It is invaluable in keeping you safe by lighting the way when you are trying not to step in the wrong place and fall down an embankment into an icy creek. Sometimes, your lantern proves to be a serviceable tool when you have a stuck handbrake on an auto rack and you need to extend your reach. When it really hits the fan, that lantern is the only weapon you have to fight off coyotes or transients.

SMART-TD is also with you to light your path, extend your reach, and help ward off harm. Carry your union, and your union will carry you. Our union provides educational tools through regional training and SMART University. The support staff provides the information we need to be successful in our railroad careers. Our local chairs are there with us during investigations, ensuring we don’t say the wrong thing and go sliding down the ballast into that icy creek of discipline points and lost wages.

 When there is a problem with local managers, our general committees and chairs extend our reach. They smack down contract violations or unfair disciplinary actions, just like our lanterns smack that stuck brake in just the right spot to let the slack come out of the chain.

When the railroads send their lawyers and lobbyists to claw back our benefits or jeopardize our careers, the international becomes that lantern we swing and hit them right between the eyes.

Much like our lanterns, this union cannot run without energy. Our lanterns are at their best when we are vigilant about making sure the battery is charged. It’s no help if, in the darkness, you don’t hit that button to turn it on. SMART-TD is ready to be of service. If we don’t turn it on, don’t know how it can be used, or forget to bring it with us, it won’t do any good. With the “walking conditions” we are all faced with right now, our lantern is more important to us than ever.

We all get busy and sometimes forget to keep our lanterns charged. I haven’t been to as many local meetings as I should have. I haven’t reread my contract for way too long. That’s on me. The union has always been there for me when I needed it, and I’m going to do the same for SMART-TD.

If you’ve been distant and haven’t checked in lately, please reengage and start coming to local meetings. Get comfortable knowing the ins and outs of our agreement, so these railroads can’t take advantage of us or our families. Find a SMART-TD Regional Training Seminar to attend that sharpens your skills and adds a few watts to that lantern in your hand. Get the energy flowing and report when things concerning safety or technology aren’t right and file claims if management is abusing your time.

As far as keeping the battery charged, now is a great time to consider becoming a contributor to SMART-TD’s Political Action Committee. If you think the progress we’ve made in 2PC and elsewhere isn’t a direct result of the efforts by SMART-TD’s state and national legislative efforts funded by PAC, you are lying to yourself. But just like your lantern after a 12-hour shift, SMART-TD PAC’s battery is running low after this fight.

So please take a few minutes to jump on the SMART app or talk to your local officers to get signed up for PAC. We all know the railroads well enough to say that the 2PC fight isn’t over. They always have another trick up their sleeve. For now, the train is back together, and the air is getting to the rear, but we’re all qualified on this territory. We know the recrew hasn’t been ordered. We know we’re going to have to put this pig away when we get it to the other end. It’s time to break out that extra battery for that lantern because there is still work to be done.

Time is running out for Transportation Division local leaders and members to take advantage of reduced registration fees for the 2024 National Training Seminar (NTS). The registration fee for the NTS, scheduled from July 9 to July 11, 2024, at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown in Cleveland, Ohio, will increase from the “early bird” rate of $200 per person to $250 per person on May 1.

Important Topics and Agenda

Educational sessions will cover critical topics such as the new Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS), bus and transit worker assault prevention, rail safety, and transportation cyber threats. Sessions will also focus on leadership at the local level, with specialized courses for chairpersons, secretaries, treasurers, and presidents. A full agenda is now available on the SMART app. Download the app here.

Group Events

A welcome reception is planned for the evening of Monday, July 8, followed by full-day training on Tuesday, July 9, through Wednesday, July 10. The event will conclude with a half-day of training on Thursday, July 11. A group event is scheduled at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for all registered attendees on the evening of Wednesday, July 10th.

Note: The Local Secretary & Treasurer training will conclude on the afternoon of Friday, July 12.

Registration and Cancellation

The registration fee will increase to $250 on May 1, and onsite registration will be $290 to cover last-minute additional costs associated with meeting planning. Children 11 and under are complimentary. You may cancel your meeting registration up to 5 days before the first day of the meetings without penalty.

To register online, visit NTS – Cleveland Registration. For inquiries, call the Transportation Division at 216-228-9400 or email Nick Torres at

Hotel Reservations

April 30th update: The Hilton room block has reached capacity. Additional lodging options are being arranged by the union at nearby hotels. Details will follow.

Stay Updated

Additional details will be updated on the SMART website and SMART app as they become available.

SMART Transportation Division’s Indiana State Legislative Board’s Executive Committee announced this week that it has unanimously voted to support U.S. Sen. Mike Braun’s run for governor in Indiana. This is no surprise to railroaders, who have followed Braun’s advocacy for our issues in Washington.

SMART-TD has endorsed U.S. Sen. Mike Braun in the Indiana governor’s race.

Sen. Mike Braun stands with us. He has proven this through his actions, not just his words. Now is our opportunity to stand with him. Braun has proven himself worthy of SMART-TD’s support in Indiana’s primary election May 7, as well as in the general election this November. Please consider giving his campaign your personal support as well.

On Capitol Hill, Sen. Braun has been a champion of railroad labor, supporting multiple bills that keep our men and women safe, paid, and respected. He has reached across the political aisle and worked with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to get all railroad employees paid sick days.

Braun stood up for us. He pushed for us to get the dignity of paid sick leave before the press had made it a national issue and before any of the carriers had begun to consider it as an option. He and Sanders made our sick leave a national issue, and less than two years later, 86% of us now work under agreements that include the paid sick days Sen. Braun envisioned.

As if that were not enough reason for this union and all of rail labor to rally around him, Sen. Braun also co-sponsored the Railroad Employee Equity and Fairness (REEF) Act and the Railway Safety Act, which seeks to codify two-person crews into federal law and provide us with many other common-sense safety initiatives, like regulating defect detectors and limiting train length.

“The decision to endorse Mike Braun for governor was an easy one to make. It is based on one of our core values — we support those who support us! Mike Braun is a consistent supporter of rail safety and rail workers. We look forward to joining with Mike Braun in 2025 to continue the work of strengthening rail safety here in Indiana at the state capitol.”
— Indiana SLD K.O. Edwards

In his official endorsement, SMART-TD Indiana State Legislative Director Kenny Edwards said: “The decision to endorse Mike Braun for governor was an easy one to make. It is based on one of our core values — we support those who support us! Mike Braun is a consistent supporter of rail safety and rail workers. We look forward to joining with Mike Braun in 2025 to continue the work of strengthening rail safety here in Indiana at the state capitol.”

Phone: (216) 228-9400

Fax: (216) 228-0411

Department Email:

“I would like to start off by saying that this decision by President Biden’s administration is historic for SMART-TD members and all rail labor. Today’s ruling codifying the two-person freight crew not only demonstrates this administration’s dedication to the safety of this country and our workforce, but it also shows their respect and acknowledgment of our men and women and the work they do. They see our value to this nation’s economy and security. Every railroad professional should take pride in this accomplishment and recognition. We are too often undervalued. Today is a day we should all remember. When this rule came open for public comments, SMART members stood up and spoke with over 13,000 responses to the FRA. Today, we all celebrate the result and the essential proof of the value of the labor of the people aboard the nation’s freight trains. This effort defines what it is to be a union and the power of workers to stand as one. We did it together as a SMART-TD family, and I am unbelievably proud to be the president of this union in what is a defining moment for our industry where safety finally and deservedly came first.”

— SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (April 2, 2024) — After a multi-year effort by SMART-TD members and leadership, DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced today that there will be a minimum of TWO certified rail crew members assigned to the cab of freight trains in the nation. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) ruling on the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) finally puts safety first for our industry. With this action, President Joe Biden’s Department of Transportation (DOT) delivered on a promise made in 2020, which supports our ongoing struggle to force railroads to responsibly operate their trains. 

SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy Ferguson speaks during the announcement of the FRA’s two-person crew regulation on April 2.

Today’s announcement solidifies the role of freight conductors in this country. It comes after a long fight between SMART-TD and the Association of American Railroads (AAR), the railroad companies it represents and the hedge fund operators who own many of the nation’s railroads. SMART’s members participated by sending 13,000 comments to the FRA on the regulation. TD President Jeremy Ferguson and our union’s national and state legislative officers relentlessly pushed lawmakers and government officials to understand the safety ramifications of a nation with single-person freight train crews. President Ferguson attended and testified at the FRA’s public hearing on this regulation in December 2022 and delivered 20 minutes of firsthand accounts to FRA officials demanding they take this step to protect the country from the railroad companies’ greed.

Federal Railroad Administrator Amit Bose speaks as SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson and U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg listen in Washington D.C. on April 2.

National Legislative Director Greg Hynes and Alternate National Legislative Director Jared Cassity orchestrated outreach to every state in the U.S., mobilizing our members to stand up and take part in the public comment period, resulting in our record-setting number of submissions.

Cassity had this to say: “It is no secret that the railroads in this country have been relentlessly pursuing a way to cut our rail crews down to one person. They have poured millions of dollars into pursuing technology that allows them to do this. These corporations are open with the fact they see more value in the trajectory of their stock prices than the safety of this country or the well-being of the conductors and engineers who are the bedrock of our economy. This fight raged for years and, as a union family, we stood toe to toe with the railroads. I want to thank our members for staying engaged in this fight.”

The announcement of this new regulation comes as a relief to all rail workers and to all concerned with rail safety in America. SMART-TD National Legislative Director Greg Hynes gives credit for this win to the collective effort of railroad workers and the state legislative committees throughout SMART’s organization.

“This announcement didn’t come out of thin air. It came from the hard work and dedication of SMART-TD’s men and women!” Hynes said. “Two-person crew regulations have been discussed for years through multiple presidencies and even more sessions of Congress. The men and women of this union have never relented or allowed this issue to get pushed to the side. Our state legislative directors have taken up this fight state after state. Our members have made their voices heard from coast to coast on this issue. Today we reach a place where our vigilance and persistence have paid off. This administration got it done.”

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announces FRA’s two-person crew ruling on April 2 in Washington, D.C.

The regulation, often mired in partisan struggles, was not a certainty. SMART-TD state legislative committees worked relentlessly to get a dozen states to set a minimum crew size. Our work would continue should the regulation change under a future administration.

Cassity continues, “We have every right to celebrate today’s ruling from the Biden administration, but we cannot for one second think this fight is over. We must stay informed, involved, and on offense. These railroads aren’t used to losing. They will come out swinging to argue against the reality that our people matter, and we have got to be ready for it. SMART-TD remains vigilant, and we ask you to continue to stand with us.”

Read the FRA’s rule.

Attendees at the announcement of the two-person crew freight regulation take a group photo April 2, 2024.


If you’re interested in speaking more about the ruling on two-person freight rail crews, we’d be happy to connect you 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 2019 national rail negotiations for the union.

SMART Transportation Division National Legislative Director Gregory Hynes

Greg Hynes is a fifth-generation railroader and was elected national legislative director in 2019.

Hynes served on the SMART Transportation Division National Safety Team that assists the National Transportation Safety Board with accident investigations, from 2007-2014.

In 2014, he was appointed to the Federal Railroad Administration’s Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC), which develops new railroad regulatory standards.

Hynes was appointed the first chairperson of the United Transportation Union’s Rail Safety Task Force in 2009 and served in that capacity until being elected SMART Transportation Division alternate national legislative director at the Transportation Division’s 2014 convention.

SMART Transportation Division Alternate National Legislative Director Jared Cassity

Jared Cassity, a member of Local 1377 (Russell, Ky.), was elected to the office of alternate national legislative director at the Second SMART Transportation Division Convention in August 2019 and became director of the union’s National Safety Team in June 2021.

Cassity started his railroad career with CSX in September 2005 and was promoted to engineer in 2008.

In addition to his elected roles, he has been a member of the National Safety Team since 2014, where he was subsequently elected to the position of Alternate Director (East) for the NST in 2016. Likewise, he was elected by his fellow peers of state directors to serve as the directors’ representative on the CSX Safety Model Executive Board in 2013.