Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, has been known for being anything but loving when it comes to wage increases and quality of life benefits for its transportation professionals. First-year General Chairperson Anthony Petty of SMART-TD’s SPT General Committee announced the ratification by membership of a new one-year agreement that changes that for the better.

The agreement ratified includes both a 7% raise in base pay and a $3,000 bonus for our SMART-TD members working to provide SEPTA’s bus service. Petty and his general committee also brokered a deal increasing the carrier’s contribution to employee retirement funds by 5% in addition to the 7% raise in pay.

Not only will these members be receiving these financial benefits, but Petty and his committee of Bruce Cheatham, Wayne Vincent and Jeaneen Hand, along with new Bus Department’ Vice President James Sandoval, also negotiated for substantial gains in time off and quality-of-life for their brothers and sisters.

Standard practice at SEPTA for the past two decades has been that our members have worked six days a week at all times. In this new agreement, members will only be drafted (forced to work a sixth day in the week) once per month. They can take two days off per week for the remainder of the month. If they elect to do so, they will be allowed to volunteer to work a sixth day whenever they want, but the power to decide is now in the hands of each individual member.

Yet another quality-of-life improvement in this contract is that the extra board will now be divided into an a.m. list and a p.m. list so our members are only responsible for covering the work for 12 hours each day. They won’t be expected to cover shifts outside of their coverage times. For the first time at SEPTA, employees on the extra list will have a far better understanding of when they can expect to go to work. This will go a long way towards helping to balance work and homelife for our men and women and create some consistency for them.

In another new and creative addition to the agreement, Petty and his team got SEPTA to agree to a unique dialogue centering around the ongoing problem with assaults against our members. On December 19, SEPTA’s General Manager Leslie Richards will attend a town hall meeting held by union leaders to discuss the rise in violence our members deal with on the job.

As part of the agreement, SEPTA management will meet quarterly in an open forum with the union to discuss the scenario surrounding every assault that has taken place on SEPTA property since the prior meeting and to tell us what steps SEPTA will take to prevent similar incidents in the future. They will also listen to our members’ ideas on assault reduction and take questions from attendees.

This agreement is the product of aggressive and creative thinking on behalf of Petty, Sandoval and the General Committee.

Petty said that his team’s cohesion made the difference in getting the job done and done quickly at the bargaining table in the six months negotiations with the carrier were open.

“My committee of Vice Chair Wayne Benson, Jeaneen Hand and Bruce Cheatham along with SMART-TD Vice President James Sandoval had put so much work in on this before negotiations started that once it got going, they could sense our confidence,” he said. “They could see we were all on the same page. We were prepared to justify everything we asked for and they knew it. All in all, the negotiation only took four days.

“They knew we weren’t backing down, and in the end, we are proud of the agreement we brought back to our membership. I want to thank Vice President Sandoval. James has been working on this agreement with me since the day I met him. He was with us every step of the way, and we all appreciate his commitment to getting everything we could get to better the lives of our SEPTA members.”

SMART-TD as an organization congratulates the SPT General Committee on the remarkable work done to achieve this agreement for SEPTA members.

Senior Vice President of the Bus Department, Alvy Hughes pointed out that this was the first agreement negotiated by GC Petty and for VP Sandoval in his new role as a SMART-TD vice president.

Hughes wants all members of SMART to know that they did a great job, and that he is very proud of the effort they put in and what they accomplished for our men and women.

After a long and distinguished career fighting for the rights and well being of SMART Transportation Division Bus Department members, Vice President Calvin Studivant retired on Sept. 30.

“It’s been a pleasure serving with Brother Calvin in many capacities going back many years,” SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson said. “I am very happy for Calvin and his wife and wish them well and thank him for all his years of service.”

Brother Studivant had served as a vice president for the Bus Department since Oct. 1, 2014, and had the following message to share:

“It has been an honor and privilege to serve you, as I embark on this next chapter of my life, please know that I will continue to pray that you all will be able to do your jobs without the fear of being assaulted. I know that TD President Jeremy Ferguson has the Bus Department’s best interests at heart and will supply the necessary resources to ensure your safety.

“I hope that I represented you well. My only interest was ensuring that you were treated with dignity and respect and received the compensation you deserved. I will always be proud of the bus operators, because I, too, am one, and I know all too well the challenges that you face daily. I pray that God will continue to bless you all. I thank you for that opportunity. SMART forever.”

Fellow Bus Department Vice President Alvy Hughes said that Studivant has been a stabilizing force in the progress the department has made.

“He has always put the Bus Department’s membership first,” Hughes said. “His sacrifice and leadership to this organization have been second to none.

“I have had the pleasure of knowing Brother Studivant since my union career began, and he has been a great mentor, brother, and true friend. I salute him for all he’s done. He will be truly missed.”

Studivant, a member of Local 759, Newark, N.J., served in the U.S. Army from 1982 to 1986, then moved to Clifton, N.J. He was employed at Community Coach starting in June 1993.

He was named alternate vice president — bus-East by the United Transportation Union’s Board of Directors in August 2009 and re-elected in 2011. He was elevated to vice president — bus by the Transportation Division Board of Directors Oct. 1, 2014. At the Second SMART TD Convention on August 11, 2019, he was elected again by acclamation.

Studivant is married to Michelle, and the couple has three children and two grandchildren.

His commitment to the union fulfilled, he said he will now enjoy time with his family in his retirement years.

The SMART Transportation Division wishes Brother Studivant a long and happy retirement.

James Sandoval, who has served as an alternate vice president of the SMART-TD Bus Department, joined Hughes as a vice president Oct. 1 after being elevated by the SMART-TD Board of Directors.

Brother Sandoval has been a bus operator at the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District for more than a decade.

James Sandoval, a member of SMART-TD Local 23, was elevated to Bus vice president on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, following the retirement of Calvin Studivant.
James Sandoval of Local 23 was elevated from alternate vice president to become vice president of the Bus Department on Oct. 1.

He’s been intensely engaged with labor efforts after joining SMART-TD as a member of Local 23 in Santa Cruz, first as a local officer then at a national level.

He assumed his first officer roles as general chairperson of GCA-SCM, alternate legislative representative and local chairperson of LCA-SCM in January 2019.

In February 2022, he assumed the position of Local 23’s legislative representative.

Brother Sandoval joined the California State Legislative Board as a legislative chairperson in June 2022, became an organizer in January 2021, and in August 2022 became alternate vice president of the Bus Department-West.