Record Numbers for Toledo Regional Training Seminar

October 10, 2023

SMART-TD’s shift to Regional Training Seminars (RTS) has been gaining momentum throughout 2022 and 2023. Last week in Toledo, Ohio, roughly 200 SMART-TD members gathered and received intense hands-on training from this organization’s best sources of information.

Much like it is important to go over a new quarter’s System Bulletins and figure out what changes have been made, and what will be the new hot-button issue for the carrier’s field testing, it is of the utmost importance for SMART-TD to address current trends and changes we are seeing from the FRA, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Labor. These topics and many others were covered in the four days of work.

Among the itineraries participants were able to choose from were classes presented for Local Chairpersons and Vice Local Chairpersons taught by SMART-TD Vice President Jamie Modesitt. The course aimed at Legislative Representatives was taught by SMART-TD’s National Legislative Department team of National Director Greg Hynes and Alternate National Legislative Director Jared Cassity. Those who chose the curriculum for Local Presidents were led for the week by Ralph Leichliter, Senior Assistant to President Ferguson. The class aimed at Secretary and Treasures was taught by Brother John Purcell, a SMART-TD Field Support Representative.

In addition to these primary instructors, the courses in Toledo’s RTS were supplemented by State Legislative Directors Kenny Edwards of Indiana, Don Roach of Michigan, and Clyde Whitaker of Ohio. These three effective leaders of our organization not only coordinated the RTS, but also were there supplementing the coursework with some of their state’s best-demonstrated practices. SMART-TD is very appreciative of the work these three brothers put into this conference, and as a union, we will all benefit from what the three of them orchestrated in Toledo.

In short, SMART-TD brings out its A-team at these Regional Training Sessions. As we are seeing, it is paying off for our members in a big way. These RTS’s over the past couple of years have played a vital role in the quality and consistency of the work being done on behalf of our members nationwide. Statistically, our rates of successful appeals have gone way up, as well as the number of claims that have been paid on appeal.

These Regional Training Sessions play a large role in this heightened level of success. As President Ferguson said when he addressed the general session of the RTS on Friday, October 6th, “We knew that we had a lot of young officers coming into this union. We knew that we had a lot of young Local Chairmen coming in and they were starving for training, starving for the information. How to handle themselves, write claims, and protect that member when they got charged. So, we had to answer that call.”

SMART-TD’s Regional Training Seminars have been a big part of what President Ferguson referred to as “answering that call.”  As Brother Ferguson put it, “In the last two years, out of 369 cases that went to the First Division, 217 of those were sustained. That’s a 58.8% win-to-loss ratio. When I first got involved, when Vice Presidents Modesitt and Brent Leonard got involved, we were happy with 22% to 25% coming out of a public law board. That is why we needed this training.” He went on to say, “The cases we have in the pipeline are going to be even better than that. Why? Because we’ve been doing training like this. We’re not going to an annual regional meeting where we spend two hours a day in class and 20 hours talking shop.”

The next opportunity to benefit from the curriculum of SMART-TD’s Regional Training Seminars is coming soon to Davenport, Iowa. This Davenport, RTS will be held at the Rhythm City Casino from November 6-9. To register for this event, please follow this link.

As President Ferguson said in Toledo when talking about the value of the RTS programs, “This is what we’re doing with the member’s money. We are helping officers to get up to speed to where we need to be so we can back them up when their jobs and their lives are on the line out there on the ballast.”

If you are a local officer in Iowa or any surrounding states, please consider joining us at this RTS. Space is limited, so please register online at your earliest convenience.