Rail labor organizations urge Biden to renominate Bragg to RRB

November 16, 2023

The following letter was submitted by the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, of which the SMART Transportation Division and Mechanical Division are members, on behalf of SMART and a number of other labor unions to President Joe Biden earlier this week.

November 12, 2023

Dear President Biden:

On behalf of the undersigned national rail labor unions, we write to unanimously recommend and support Johnathan D. Bragg to be re-nominated to serve as the Labor Member on the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB). He has demonstrated excellent service on the Board for the last four years since his confirmation in early 2019, and we request that he be nominated for another term to serve on the Board.

John Bragg, labor’s member on the Railroad Retirement Board, addresses the Transportation Division session at the SMART Leadership Conference on July 31, 2023.

As you know, employees in the railroad industry are covered under a separate retirement system which is administered by the RRB. This unique system, funded solely by the industry and its employees, provides retirement, unemployment, disability and survivor benefits for millions of rail workers. These benefits and services are essential to the lives of all employees and their families. To help ensure that the system protects the interest of rail workers, Section 7(A) of the Railroad Retirement Act of 1974 dictates that the President must nominate one candidate to the Board based on the “recommendations made by representatives of the employees.” We strongly endorse Johnathan D. Bragg to continue serving as the Labor member for the RRB.

Mr. Bragg has shown great leadership on the Board and successfully represented and advocated for rail workers during one of the most trying times in the rail industry. Like many industries, the COVID-19 pandemic caused many hardships for rail workers, including layoffs, illness and even unfortunately death. Congress included provisions in the COVID-19 relief packages to provide temporary additional benefits, such as enhanced rail worker unemployment benefits, that were administered through the RRB; Mr. Bragg and his staff were instrumental in successfully rolling out and implementing those benefits in record time. During his tenure, Mr. Bragg has also advocated for and provided oversight of the long overdue modernization of the RRB’s IT systems that will bring RRB’s 1960’s IT systems into the 21st century and facilitate much-needed improvements, such as allowing workers to file benefit claims online.

In addition to his leadership and service on the Board, Mr. Bragg hails from a long line of railroaders in his family. He began his own rail career 23 years ago as a freight conductor, and later a signalman, and knows the rail worker’s perspective firsthand. As a dedicated rail worker and union member, he climbed the union leadership ranks as a Local Chairman, Grand Lodge Representative, and National Vice-President. He also represented the BRS as a permanent Board Member of the National Railroad Adjustment Board. Mr. Bragg’s long and accomplished career has allowed him to excel in his current role. If granted a second term as the RRB’s Labor Member, Mr. Bragg will continue bringing an invaluable level of experience, knowledge, and understanding of the needs of rail workers, retirees, and their families who rely on the system.

For these reasons, we strongly recommend you re-nominate Johnathan D. Bragg to serve as the Labor member of the RRB as you work to ensure the agency’s full board member capacity.


American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA)
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET)-IBT
Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division (BMWED)-IBT
Brotherhood of Railway Carmen (BRC)
Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS)
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM)
International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers, and Helpers (IBB)
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)
International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers–Mechanical Division (SMART-MD)
International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers–Transportation Division (SMART-TD)
National Conference of Firemen & Oilers, SEIU (NCFO)
Transportation Communications International Union (TCU)
Transport Workers Union of America (TWU)