The SMART Transportation Division opened its Boston regional meeting July 1 with a town hall forum at which SMART members were able to pose questions directly to the union’s leadership.

More than 800 members, guests and presenters are attending the regional meeting.

After opening ceremonies and remarks from SMART General President Joe Nigro and Transportation Division President Mike Futhey, the presidents were joined by SMART General Secretary-Treasurer Joe Sellers and Transportation Division Assistant President and General Secretary & Treasurer John Previsich to respond to questions concerning the merger of the United Transportation Union and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association and other issues.

The session was moderated by Transportation Division International Vice President John Lesniewski.

futhey_nigro_bostonSMART Transportation Division President Mike Futhey, left, and
SMART General President Joe Nigro prepare to receive questions at the
regional meeting’s town hall forum.

On Tuesday, July 2, U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) and Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman addressed meeting attendees during lunch, stressing the nation’s need to fund public transportation, address rail security needs and tend to its transportation infrastructure.

“We have a (competitive) edge in this country because of a great transportation industry,” Said Lynch. “There is an ongoing need to focus on that competitive advantage so we don’t lose it.”

Lynch said he recently sponsored a rail summit and traveled to Mumbai to study the weaknesses in their rail security system following terrorist attacks there. He also discussed rail security issues with representatives from the United Kingdom and Russia.

“The next threat, I think, will be to our local rail systems and infrastructure,” he said. “There is a growing sense of awareness that this is an area both Democrats and Republicans can agree on. We have grown complacent when it comes to our rail security.”

futhey_lynchU.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts receives a UTU clock from
SMART Transportation President Division Mike Futhey following an address to
regional meeting attendees and guests.

Boardman also addressed Amtrak’s rail security issues, noting that Amtrak has 500 police officers, 50 bomb-sniffing dogs and is a leader in explosive-detection technology.

He told the transportation employees and guests that the railroad of the future is coming, but that additional resources are needed.

He said that long-distance trains do not make money and have never made money, but that they provide a means of travel for many individuals who do not have access to other modes of transportation.

Referring to government funding of Amtrak, Boardman stressed that “it is not a subsidy, it is a cost for providing mobility. We are destroying long-distance trains by de-capitalizing them. We need to change that.”

qualy_boardmanMinnesota State Legislative Director Phillip Qualy speaks with Amtrak President and
CEO Joseph Boardman following lunch at the SMART Transportation Division’s
Boston regional meeting.