The recent news of Ron Batory’s nomination for the Amtrak Board of Directors has sparked a lot of discussion on social media. Unfortunately, much has been based on misinformation.

The SMART Transportation Division wants to provide some clarity on this topic for our members and everyone at Amtrak or any other railroad.

Amtrak’s board structure

First, it’s important to understand the rules and regulations surrounding the makeup of the Amtrak board. The board has 10 members, with eight of these suggested by both political parties. The other two are the Amtrak CEO and the Secretary of Transportation.

49 U.S. Code § 24302 governs the composition of Amtrak’s board. The Speaker of the House of Representatives (currently a Republican), the minority leader of the House of Representatives (a Democrat), the majority leader of the Senate (a Democrat) and the minority leader of the Senate (a Republican) ALL provide input about who to consider. There are also geographical considerations. The U.S. president then “appoints” the people selected by this group for the Senate to consider.

Donald Trump’s FRA Administrator Ron Batory

Batory was recommended for nomination by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Batory was not chosen by President Joe Biden or his administration, despite how some media outlets and social media discussions have framed it.

Much of the uproar assumes Batory’s seat on the Amtrak board is a done deal. It is not. Once appointed, a Senate committee considers prospective Amtrak board members, who are then approved or rejected by the full U.S. Senate.

A history lesson

Biden’s choice for FRA administrator was Amit Bose, who has spent his three years in this post undoing the Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) mess he inherited from Batory, who previously led the FRA. The record speaks for itself, as Bose has worked well with SMART-TD and other rail unions to push back against unsafe and inhumane railroad practices.

Unneeded bluster by keyboard warriors

It’s understandable that some people may be confused or alarmed to see Batory listed as a Biden appointee in press materials and in headlines. The president plays a ceremonial role in transmitting the nominations made by the committee to Congress, as depicted in White House communications. Claiming that the president selected the nominees is a smokescreen designed to outrage people and obscure the truth prior to November.

Batory’s nomination to the Amtrak Board of Directors is not a reflection of the Biden administration’s values or priorities. It’s a partisan political decision set forth by the Senate minority leader. The law ensures that both parties have a meaningful way to decide the makeup of the Amtrak Board.

It is important that American railroad workers understand this reality instead of listening to knee-jerk provocations made by those using surface-level observations of the process.

Read the statement by the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department outlining labor’s stance on the Batory nomination.

The United States House Appropriations Committee’s Transportation Subcommittee has proposed a Transportation, Housing and Urban Development bill that includes drastic cuts to Amtrak funding. In response, SMART released the following statement:

“The House Appropriations Committee’s Transportation Subcommittee’s proposed bill is dangerous for passenger rail transportation in America because it fails to meet the minimum level of funding necessary for Amtrak to safely operate its trains and maintain its assets. Funding shortages will adversely affect numerous capital projects that are essential to improving infrastructure and passenger rail services throughout our country. The failure to fully fund Amtrak is anti-American: It is an attack on America’s public passenger rail transportation, and it is an attack on working Americans. If Amtrak is not fully funded, it could kill thousands of railroad industry jobs, which will negatively impact our communities. Amtrak is good for our country, and it is good for our economy.”

The SMART Transportation Division has been asking for help and advocacy from our members this week to reach out to Congress and let them know that it is not OK to gut the federal spending for Amtrak. Late Thursday, it appears that your voices have been heard loud and clear and have had an impact!

The House of Representatives prepared its budget bill for the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), and it called for an apocalyptic cut to AMTRAK’s budget. The version of the budget that came out of committee and was slated for a floor vote Nov. 2 featured a 64% cut to Amtrak.

This proposed funding cut would have been devastating to thousands of SMART-TD members who work in passenger rail. Fallout from the job cuts that would inevitably come from this short-sighted effort to slash and burn Amtrak would have also impacted the solvency of the Railroad Retirement Board, which would be a significant problem for everyone in railroad industry on both the freight and passenger sides.

Through the hard work of rail labor and the advocacy of our members and passenger railroad advocates reaching out to their members of Congress, the vote on this budget bill has been halted this week. Several Republican reps have expressed that this “halting” of the vote is directly related to concerns raised about Amtrak cuts.

In short, YOUR VOICE IS BEING HEARD!

While this is very welcome news, the threat is not over. This THUD budget bill is scheduled to come back to the House floor next week. We need all our members to contact their congressional representatives and express in no uncertain terms that cuts to Amtrak funding and subsequently the Railroad Retirement Board is not a responsible way to patch the holes in this nation’s budget.

Please follow this link to SMART-TD’s Legislative Action Center to send a pre-written message today! Together we can protect our brothers and sisters and maintain the pension plan that we all worked for!

It is with heavy hearts that the members of the SMART Transportation Division and Local 857 mourn the passing of colleague and friend, Michael Moilanen. Michael served as a conductor for Amtrak and was a valued member of Local 857 out of San Antonio, Texas. Michael’s untimely departure has left a profound void in our union family and his tight-knit crew base.

Amtrak conductor Michael Moilanen passed away, leaving behind a wife and two children. An online fundraiser has been established to assist his family.

Michael, who was just 43 years old, was known for his high railroad IQ and all-around intelligence. He worked as a conductor and an assistant conductor and had a decade on the rail with Amtrak. His dedication to his work and his willingness to share his knowledge was a testament to his character.

In the words of another Local 857 conductor — “Michael was a great guy to work with. He was the kind of guy you looked forward to getting called with. Conversations with Michael were always interesting. He was a very smart guy and had a great way of explaining things in a way that was relatable. Michael was a good railroader too. He didn’t just know the rules, he understood the reasoning behind them. He was the guy you wanted to have on the train with you. Michael was one of those guys you knew you could trust. He will be very missed around here.”

Beyond his dedication to his railroad family, Michael was a loving husband to his wife, Kayla, and a devoted father to their two children, Audrey and Ethan. Audrey, now a college freshman in New Mexico, and Ethan, who is turning 7 this month, were the light of Michael’s life. He cherished every moment he spent with his family and his love for them was immeasurable.

Michael Moilanen’s journey was cut short far too soon as he passed away at the away-from-home terminal in the hotel in Fort Worth, Texas, while working Amtrak 22, better known as the Texas Eagle.

Michael’s memory will live on in the hearts of those who had the privilege of knowing him, working alongside him and riding his train. He was a remarkable colleague, a loving father, and a devoted husband, and his loss is deeply felt by all who knew him.

As we grieve the loss of Michael Moilanen, let us come together as a union family to support his wife, Kayla, and their children, Audrey and Ethan, during this difficult time. Together, we can ensure that his legacy endures and that his family is cared for in their time of need. If you are able to do so, please consider following this link to the GoFundMe online fundraiser established to support Michael’s wife and children.

While Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) dollars are being allocated by the U.S. Department of Transportation to distribute to commuter and passenger rail projects as well as to transit agencies recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. House Appropriations Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and related agencies (THUD) subcommittee decided to pull $6.6 billion from the whole operation.

Among the lowlights: the proposed 2024 budget spending bill passed by the subcommittee slashes funding for Amtrak by 64%, effectively blowing a hole in a plan to help passenger rail service in the country expand.

If enacted, this bill would not only nullify the progress being made, but it would also lead to large-scale furloughs throughout the industry.  Amtrak, among other commuter and passenger rail agencies, would see the funds available to them rolled back to levels of a decade ago. Obviously, the cut in staffing levels in passenger and commuter rail is devastating to our transit members, but it also will tear a significant hole in the solvency of the Railroad Retirement Board reserves, so freight railroaders have a vested interest in this development that might not be obvious as the direct peril our brothers and sisters in passenger service face.

This 2013 funding level would not go well for our SMART-TD rail members dealing with 2024 levels of inflation and cost-of-living concerns, nor would it serve to improve Amtrak’s recovery of ridership or advance the enthusiastic plans announced for new regional services in both urban and rural areas.

As railroaders, we know that nothing is true until it is. But to begin projects nationwide such as expanding Amtrak from Chicago to Minneapolis, and resurrecting both the Gulf Coast Line and the Northern Lights Express only to cut the following budget to the bone is nonsense.

If the mission the conservative THUD subcommittee is trying to accomplish is one of fiscal responsibility, then building new tracks and then choking off funds to pay the men and women needed to run them is a terrible way to accomplish it. They are rendering the money already being spent to be useless with no Return On Investment at all. Apparently, this Congress has either forgotten or has conveniently chosen to ignore Article 1 in the United States Constitution better known as the Commerce Clause. If they took a group field trip down the street from the Capitol building to the National Archives, they could read it for themselves that they as a legislative body are bound by the constitution to promote and ensure the nation’s transportation needs are in fact met. Once again, the importance of putting those who support us and our causes into office has come to the surface.

SMART-TD is not in the business of endorsing one political party or the other. We consistently support the people who are on the right side of transportation issues with a blind eye to their party designation.  With that being said, we absolutely need to pay attention to trends in the halls of Congress, and you as our members absolutely deserve to know who has your back when they vote on matters that affect your lives, job security, and pension. For that reason, it was SMART-TD’s intention to provide you with a scorecard of the subcommittee members and how they voted on this appropriations bill.  

Unfortunately, for those of us who want to be informed and want the ability to hold people in power to account, the subcommittee’s Republican chair chose to conduct the vote of this massive appropriations bill via voice vote. This ensured that those politicians who favored cutting our collective throats are able to do so with anonymity.

The good news is that on Tuesday, July 18th, the full House Appropriations Committee took a vote on the THUD budget and this smoke screen wasn’t available.

SMART-TD had a close eye on the developments as this legislation works its way through the process and to keep you informed of who is actively voting against your best interest. We now have an accurate scorecard of the Appropriations vote.  In an effort to track those who are with us and who are against us, SMART-TD’s National Legislative Department is providing our members this breakdown of the 34-27 vote the committee made to gut passenger rail and subsequently the pension fund of all of us who pay into the RRB.

Mr. Robert Aderholt R- Alabama 04Ms. Kay Granger R-Texas 12
Mr. Mark Amodei R-Nevada 02Mr. Michael Guest R-Mississippi 03
Mrs. Stephanie Bice R-Oklahoma 05Dr. Andy Harris R-Maryland 01
Mr. Ken Calvert R-California 41Mrs. Ashley Hinson R-Iowa 02
Mr. Jerry Carl R-Alabama 01Mr. David Joyce R-Ohio 14
Mr. John Carter R-Texas 31Mr. Jake Laturner R-Kansas 02
Mr. Juan Ciscomani R-Arizona 06Ms. Julia Letlow R-Louisiana 05
Mr. Ben Cline R-Virginia 06Mr. John Moolenaar R-Michigan 02
Mr. Michael Cloud R-Texas 27  Mr. Dan Newhouse R-Washington 04
Mr. Andrew Clyde R-Georgia 09Mr. Gary Reschenthaler R-Pennsylvania 14
Mr. Tom Cole R-Oklahoma 04   Mr. Harold Rogers R-Kentucky 05
Mr. Mario Diaz-Balart R-Florida 26Mr. John Rutherford R-Florida 05
Mr. Jake Ellzey R-Texas 06Mr. Michael Simpson R-Idaho 02
Mr. Chuck Fleischmann R-Tennessee 03Mr. Chris Stewart R-Utah 02
Mr. Scott Franklin R-Florida 18Mr. David Valado R-California 22
Mr. Mike Garcia R-California 27Mr. Steve Womack R-Arkansas 03
Mr. Tony Gonzales R-Texas 23Mr. Ryan Zinke R-Montana 01
These members of the House Appropriations Committee voted against Amtrak and the interests of SMART railroad members.

What SMART-TD members absolutely need to do in addition to keeping tabs on which members support our jobs when we enter the ballot box, is that we need to act quickly to reach out to our Congressional members now since this bill has passed committee and is heading to the House floor. Please send your representative a message that there is a lot on the line with this budget package for you and your family and that you will remember his/her vote on this important matter while deciding whether to support them in the future!

With intervention from our SMART-TD membership, Congress will hopefully do what is right by transportation workers and the U.S. economy. We need to help them realize that we don’t want a network of abandoned tracks and mothballed Amtrak equipment parked around the country. We want to keep the nation moving forward. Partisan politics have no place in the transportation industry and the policies of this committee are destined to lead us nowhere like the unfinished tracks the THUD committee seeks to leave in its wake.

Image credit: Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons”

Funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law helped jumpstart two enormous projects on the East Coast in January, creating jobs for SMART sheet metal workers and bettering the working conditions of SMART Transportation Division members. In Baltimore, SMART TD Alt. National Legislative Director Jared Cassity joined Amtrak officials, President Biden and others to kick off the B&P Tunnel Replacement Program. The Civil War-era tunnel will be replaced by the brand-new Frederick Douglass Tunnel, increasing reliability, capacity and speed from 30 mph to a peak of 110 mph. Not only will this save commuters time on the largest rail bottleneck between Washington, DC and New Jersey; thanks to a new project labor agreement (PLA), both SMART sheet metal workers and SMART Transportation Division members working at Amtrak stand to benefit.

“The sorely needed replacement of the B&P Tunnel represents one of the largest infrastructure projects in the region,” SMART General President Joseph Sellers said at the time. “It will improve the lives of Amtrak riders and the SMART TD members who work those trains, and the PLA covering the project will ensure the job is completed by highly skilled workers — lifting local communities up in the process.”

The PLA, negotiated by Amtrak and the Baltimore-DC Building and Construction Trades Council, will cover the replacement of the Warwick Bridge and is the first of its kind under a 2021 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Amtrak and North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU). The MOU will pertain to Amtrak’s major civil engineering projects moving forward, including the remaining phases of the B&P Tunnel Replacement Program, and will help put SMART sheet metal members to work on critical infrastructure jobs across the country.

The project will also improve working conditions for SMART TD Amtrak employees. The B&P Tunnel is Amtrak’s oldest tunnel on the Northeast Corridor, and it has endured a range of age-related maladies, including excessive water infiltration, structural deterioration and delays that impact more than 10% of trains during the week. Now, thanks to the receipt of funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law — as well as a $450 million contribution from the state of Maryland, which will combine with Amtrak’s intended commitment of approximately $750 million — the SMART TD members on those trains can look forward to performing their duties with significantly less hassle.

“Our members are ready to take on this work, and we as an organization are ready to bring in new members and elevate the working class throughout this nation.”

Further north, $292 million in infrastructure funding is spurring the completion of the Hudson Tunnel modernization project, which will rehabilitate the old North River Tunnel connecting New York and New Jersey, build a new tunnel and improve reliability for the 200,000 passengers who traverse the tunnel each weekday. President Biden visited New York City to champion the project on January 31, 2023, where he noted that this phase of the project would create 72,000 jobs.

“Yesterday in Baltimore, I announced that we’re building [the B&P Tunnel project] under the new project labor agreement. And we’re making sure there is [a PLA] here as well,” Biden said.

Funding for the modernization project faltered under the previous president’s administration. But thanks to the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in 2021, construction can resume in earnest for this crucial phase. This alone put tens of thousands of union members to work — and once the tunnel has been fully modernized, it will vastly improve working conditions for SMART Transportation Division members working at Amtrak and regional transit systems.

“Since the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we’ve seen time and again how important critical infrastructure projects are for our members — both the sheet metal members who work on these projects, and the transit workers who keep our country moving every day,” said General President Sellers. “We applaud the pro-labor leadership of Congress and the Biden administration in putting these funds directly towards projects that benefit working people.”

In addition to New York and Baltimore, the AP reports, infrastructure law funding will spur work on the Brent Spence Bridge, which connects Kentucky and Ohio; the Calcasieu River Bridge in Louisiana; a commuter rail project in Illinois; the Alligator River Bridge in North Carolina; a transit and highway plan in California; and roadways in Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Mississippi.

“Funding from this law — along with renewed investment from private companies — is creating a level of opportunity across our country that is almost unheard of,” SMART Assistant to the General President Darrell Roberts remarked. “Our members are ready to take on this work, and we as an organization are ready to bring in new members and elevate the working class throughout this nation.”

Tell us about yourself and your career at Amtrak.

Growing up as a young boy in the inner city of Washington, DC was very tough, but it built me into the man I am today. A memory at the precipice of my mind that I will never forget is losing my mother at the age of six years old. My life was split in two, and I felt like no one cared about me anymore. I did whatever I felt like doing, I skipped class and eventually stopped going to school for prolonged amounts of time. School became obsolete to me, and I opted for hanging out in the streets with older guys getting into things we had no business getting into.

My uncle did his best to raise my siblings and me, but it was becoming too much for him to handle holding down a job and keeping us out of trouble. He was left with the hard decision of separating us. I never knew who my father was, so my sister and I were sent to live with her father. It was the first time I lived in Kenilworth projects in DC; we had very little money and resorted to second-hand things as our source of having what we needed. Being the tallest of my eight siblings, hand-me-down clothes never really fit quite right. Pants were “high water,” shoes too tight, and sweaters with sleeves way too short. Living in poverty really lit a fire of determination within me to work and earn a living for myself.

It was living in the projects that spurred me to learn the type of work ethic I needed to survive. I was surrounded by negative influences: I saw people selling and doing drugs, drinking very young and stealing to make it through the day. Fortunately, I had a very loving step mother who — despite the mischievousness of my siblings and I — doted on us, instilled routine and structure, and steered us in the right direction. Looking back on it all, I am so grateful for her impact in my life.

I finished high school, had no trade and was not prepared for college. The summer following my high school graduation, I remember wondering to myself what my career would look like. I had dreams of having a family, with a loving home and a white picket fence, but it seemed unattainable at the time. I refused to sulk in what it would look like to not have these things, and focused on how to achieve these goals. That’s when I decided to attend the Diesel Institute of America and get a trade in diesel mechanics.

Having this trade opened the door for me to be hired at Amtrak as a laborer in 1984. After four years of hard work, I was given a promotion with the responsibility of operating locomotives and yard engines. One year following this promotion, I was given the opportunity to test for apprenticeship as a sheet metal pipefitter. I passed the test, and in 1989 I headed to Beech Grove, Indiana, as a member of the last apprenticeship class for Amtrak. Four years later I completed my apprenticeship and soon after was appointed as lead pipefitter in recognition of my hard work ethic.

As I saw my efforts start to be noticed, I grew the confidence to apply for a management role and got the position over 100 other applicants. After four and a half years working, commissioning new high speed rail trainsets and locomotives in Colorado and Pennsylvania, I decided to resign from management and focus again on helping raise my kids and being a sheet metal pipefitter. I had still been paying union dues to SMART, and I knew that by making this decision I could live comfortably and start my dreams of having and raising a family.

What advice would you give to a young person considering getting into this field?

The advice I have for the youth entering this field is to think about the long term and where you see yourself in the near future. My path started by getting into a trade: working with diesel engines, which transformed into working in sheet metal. This is a great field, and you can’t go wrong working in it. Start while you’re young and able to grow and advance with the technology, and hone the skills you’ll acquire along the way. Even if your plans and ambitions change later on, make sound decisions that will help you grow into a better version of who you are today.

My spouse at the time was able to raise our two beautiful daughters in our new home solely off the salary of a sheet metal pipefitter. It has been a very rewarding and providing career, and I would recommend it to the young folks trying to make a living for themselves and/ or their families.

What has been your involvement with SMART?

My involvement with SMART began by dispersing contract information along with information pertaining to the fields that spell out the SMART acronym to fellow pipefitters within the union. To further my commitment to the union, I ran for an officer’s position as financial secretary-treasurer. The local union needed my leadership and steady hand in order to get back in good standing.

During my time, we were successful in balancing the budget, getting membership dues up to date and passing a major audit. I took pride in servicing our members, and it was noticed by our General Chairman John McCloskey. He recommended I apply for the financial secretary-treasurer position for SMART General Committee II for passenger rails. I applied for the role and accepted the opportunity to serve as a board member while holding my place as financial secretary-treasurer for Local 363. With this new level of responsibility, I was able to travel across the country not only to audit 10 local books, but to fulfill my dream of exploring the United States.

SMART General Committee 2
SMART General Committee II

How has working for our union helped you?

Working with the union has helped me to understand what it means to be a part of something bigger, while also being a great contributor to my society and community closest to me. I believe we are all here to help serve one another in varying capacities, and the union was my avenue to serve. Because the union opened its doors for me to give back to my people, I was able to reflect on how I was truly walking in my calling. For that I am grateful.

Tell us something that might surprise people to know about you.

I have more than 38 years of perfect attendance, and I have only been tardy once. And on June 26, 2023, I will celebrate 39 years with Amtrak. The third thing people may be shocked to know about me is that I was a councilman for the Town of Fairmount Heights and that I ran for mayor of my town, only losing by 16 votes. The last thing others may be taken aback by is that I was a member of the team that broke the record for fastest train travel at a speed of 161 miles per hour. This was while I was working in Philadelphia, commissioning high speed trainsets. I guess you could say I am full of surprises.

What are you most proud of?

I would without question say that I am most proud of my daughters Whitney and Juel Downing, who bring a smile on my face at the sheer thought of them. Since birth they have been my pride and joy, something I desired and worked hard for ever since I was a young man. As adults they have exceeded my expectations by earning their bachelors’ and masters’ degrees. Growing up they have given me no issues whatsoever, and I can confidently say I have model children who have grown to become contributing members of society. This brings me the utmost pride.

On Thursday, March 23 – after 15 months of negotiations – the TCU & Shop-Craft Coalition reached a tentative agreement with Amtrak to settle each organization’s respective Section 6 notices for this round of bargaining. The coalition is comprised of the SMART Mechanical Department (MD), the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen (BRC), National Conference of Firemen & Oilers SEIU 32BJ (NCFO), International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), Transport Workers Union (TWU), American Railway Airline Supervisor Association (ARASA), International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB) and the Transportation Communications Union (TCU).

“We appreciate the patience of our members, and we will be providing all the details of this great agreement,” the coalition said in a press release announcing the agreement.

The specific terms of the agreement have been approved by the Amtrak Board of Directors; the details will be presented to SMART MD members for ratification in the coming weeks. This article will be updated.

Amtrak officials joined representatives from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the state of Maryland, SMART TD Alt. National Legislative Director Jared Cassity and President Biden to kick off the first phase of the B&P Tunnel Replacement Program in Baltimore. The Civil War-era tunnel will be replaced by the brand-new Frederick Douglass Tunnel, increasing service reliability, capacity and speed from 30 mph to a peak of 110 mph. Not only will this save commuters time on the largest rail bottleneck between Washington, DC and New Jersey; thanks to a new project labor agreement (PLA), both SMART sheet metal workers and SMART Transportation Division members working at Amtrak stand to benefit for years to come.

“The sorely needed replacement of the B&P Tunnel represents one of the largest infrastructure projects in the region,” said SMART General President Joseph Sellers. “It will improve the lives of Amtrak riders and the SMART TD members who work those trains, and the PLA covering the project will ensure the job is completed by highly skilled workers – lifting local communities up in the process. Our members look forward to applying their professionalism and craft to this vital work.”

The PLA, negotiated by Amtrak and the Baltimore-DC Building and Construction Trades Council, will cover the replacement of the Warwick Bridge and is the first of its kind under a 2021 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Amtrak and North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU). The MOU will apply to Amtrak’s major civil engineering projects moving forward, including the remaining phases of the B&P Tunnel Replacement Program, and will help put SMART sheet metal members to work on critical infrastructure jobs across the country.

Once completed, the new Frederick Douglass Tunnel will vastly improve the lives and working conditions of SMART TD Amtrak workers.

The B&P Tunnel is Amtrak’s oldest tunnel on the Northeast Corridor and, according to an Amtrak media release, a single point of failure for both MARC and Amtrak trains. The 1.4-mile tunnel connects Baltimore to Washington, DC, and endures a range of age-related maladies, including excessive water infiltration, structural deterioration and delays that impact more than 10% of trains during the week. All of this not only impacts the lives of commuters; it complicates the work SMART TD members perform on a daily basis.

Now, thanks to the receipt of funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – as well as a $450 million contribution from the state of Maryland, which will combine with Amtrak’s intended commitment of approximately $750 million – Amtrak workers can look forward to performing their duties with significantly less hassle.

“As the workers who safely transport passengers to their destinations every day, SMART TD members know better than anyone how vital it is for our rail infrastructure to be up-to-date and geared towards safety,” Cassity said. “The B&P Tunnel replacement will benefit commuters and Amtrak workers for generations to come, and we applaud Amtrak, the state of Maryland and the federal government for pursuing it.”

Jose F. “Joey” Garcia, local chairperson of Local 168 (Chicago, Ill.), passed away suddenly in December at his home in Chicago.

Jose F. “Joey Garcia

Brother Garcia, 46, actively participated in our union since his railroad career began in 2005. An Amtrak conductor, Brother Garcia served as a legislative representative, trustee, vice local chairperson and finally as local chairperson.

“Joey was a funny and loyal friend,” General Chairperson Rick Pauli of GO 769 said. “He was a great advocate for the members of SMART-TD Local 168 and will be truly missed.”

Along with supporting and representing our fellow union members, he was a loving father of two beautiful children he adored.

Along with representing his fellow union members, he was a loving father of two beautiful children he adored. Brother Garcia is survived by his children, father, three siblings and several family and friends who will miss him dearly.

“On behalf of all the men and women of Local 168, I extend deepest condolences to the family and friends of Brother Garcia,” said Nate Hatton, local chairperson of LCA-769.

Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers.