Railroad Day in Washington results in renewed awareness and support

May 23, 2024

Daily headlines about new railroad safety laws make it feel like every day is “Railroad Day on the Hill.” However, the formal event falls once a year on the legislative calendar, where rail union representatives share the many issues that face our industry with legislators in D.C.

Thirty-eight men and women represented SMART Transportation Division, the nation’s largest railroad union. They spread the gospel of the Railway Safety Act, the need for shorter trains, increased quality of life and our call for better safety inspections of rolling stock.

The SMART delegation represented 20 different states and held 130 meetings with any Congress member or staffer willing to listen throughout the day.

The event was organized by National Legislative Director Greg Hynes, Alternate National Legislative Director Jared Cassity and Legislative Department Chief of Staff Jenny Miller. The Legislative Department invited 13 other unions to participate in Railroad Day on the Hill.

President Jeremy Ferguson, multiple vice presidents, state legislative directors, alternate state legislative directors, general chairpersons, local legislative reps and state legislative vice chairs from across the country all were present.

Ohio senators support Railway Safety Act, REEF Act

SMART-TD representatives started with a breakfast with Senator J.D. Vance of Ohio. Vance has proven himself to be a champion for rail safety and is the lead sponsor of the Railway Safety Act.  Transportation Division representatives discussed ways our union could help rally support for the RSA and the REEF Act.

The REEF Act is a bipartisan bill that will end an out-of-date tax on Railroad Retirement Board benefits awarded to rail employees who are furloughed or medically out of service.

Vance and fellow Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown are with us and continue to strategize with SMART-TD on ways to build support for the RSA and REEF Acts.

America’s largest railroad union leaves a lasting impression

Following the successes of the day’s events, NLD Hynes expressed his gratitude to the army of SMART-TD leaders who made the trip.

“These men and women went above and beyond the call of duty to be here today. Because of them, we had a fantastic show of force in the halls of Congress. The validity of our issues speaks for itself, but when leaders from these different states show up to meet with their congressional and senate delegations, it makes an impact on these lawmakers,” he said. “They hear from Jared Cassity and me all the time, but when someone from home comes to meet with them in D.C., it puts a face to our issues in a unique way.

“I want to thank each one of them for making the effort to come out this year. With your help, we will deliver on the promise of the Railway Safety Act, the REEF Act, and all the issues that speak to the quality of life our members deserve and the dignity of the work they do each day.”