Congressman Eric Burlison, 7th Congressional District in Missouri, is trying to overturn our long-sought and hard-won two-person crew rule. In April, he introduced legislation trying to overturn FRA’s ruling. He is officially AGAINST US.

Let your congressperson know you will be watching to see if they care to protect their constituents. Let them know they should stand with us. They should reject House Joint Resolution 130, which looks to toss out the 2PC rule we have fought for decades to earn.

Railroads financed Burlison’s campaign

SMART-TD’s National Legislative Department looked at Burlison’s current congressional campaign’s financial records. The AAR (American Railroads), ASLRRA, UP, BNSF, CSX and NS, plus short-line operators Genesee & Wyoming and Herzog have all given to his campaign to be re-elected later this year.

These railroads didn’t have to court Burlison all that much to convince him to help them fight against our unions. Politically, Burlison has been working against unions long before he was in the United States House of Representatives.

Burlison: A longtime foe of worker protections

In 2021, Rep. Burlison was a Missouri state senator. One of his bills, SB 118, was a right to work (for less) bill for the “Show Me” state. On his state website, there was a headline of “Sen. Eric Burlison Continues Right-to-Work Fight.” This article went on to say, “JEFFERSON CITY — State Sen. Eric Burlison, R-Battlefield, presented Senate Bill 118, which establishes right-to-work provisions in Missouri, to the Senate General Laws Committee on Feb. 23. The legislation bars employers from requiring union membership of employees and paying dues or other charges as a condition of employment.”

Speaking of his time in the Missouri Legislature, a quote on his website says “Right-to-work has always been an important issue to myself and my constituents.”

His attempt to end 2PC is a part of Burlison’s larger war against labor.

His short resolution deserves a large response

He is a first-term congressperson, only two years removed from the state Legislature. He is just good enough at his job to write a six-line piece of legislation against rail labor and rail safety with two co-sponsors, which, if we stand up, has zero chance of being signed into law.

Burlison’s press release on his joint resolution featured quotes from Ian Jefferies, president and CEO of the big railroads’ lobbying group, and Chuck Baker, president of the short lines’ lobbying group. It’s not a coincidence. For someone determined to fight railroad labor, they’re going to be on the top of the contact list.

Burlison cites flawed research

From his press release: “The only entity this (2PC Ruling) benefits is unions, not consumers or owners of these small businesses.” Burlison also said that an unnamed study was done in 2015 and found no safety difference “whether there is one qualified person or two qualified persons manning a train.” We think he’s referring to the Oliver Wyman crew size “study” that the industry bought and paid for about a decade ago. Of course, everyone benefits from safer trains with full, and fully rested crews. Railroads are not small businesses.

Pave the way for the Railway Safety Act

With your help, Burlison and his co-sponsors, Reps. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) and Randy Weber (R-Texas), will find out that SMART-TD’s members are the true industry experts on railroad safety, now and in November when they face re-election.

With the Railroad Safety Act of 2023 gaining momentum in the U.S. Senate, it could be sent to the House of Representatives this summer. It’s important our message be heard loud and clear to pave the way for the law that will protect 2PC, no matter what happens this November.

Invenies quid valeam

Help us set the tone here and now. If we can’t band together and defend our hard-fought victory on two-person crews, they will have no reason to listen to us when we are pushing for shorter trains, more-regulated use of defect detectors, and the other aspects of the RSA that will keep us out of harm’s way.

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.

Dear SMART-TD members and retirees —

Major disasters can occur anytime and anywhere to our union Brothers and Sisters, and the SMART Transportation Division Disaster Relief Fund is primed to assist members in their times of need.

In recent memory, the fund has helped during disastrous cold in Texas, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding and fires. Our members’ touching and steadfast generosity never fails to provide hope when the sense of devastation takes hold — when homes are damaged and lives are upended such as what has occurred with recent storms in the South and in California.

To help members struck by these and future crises 2023 may present, the Disaster Relief Fund asks that the TD family heed this call to give what you can. With your help, the difficult task of starting over and rebuilding can become easier for members who find themselves affected in times of trouble.

Any donations will help lessen the struggle and bring real hope and relief to SMART-TD members who are suffering after this great loss. SMART-TD will administer donations sent to the SMART TD Disaster Relief Fund when the need arises.

Contributions may be sent and made payable to:

SMART TD Disaster Relief Fund
6060 Rockside Woods Blvd., N., Suite 325
Independence, OH 44131-2378

Questions? Please call the Transportation Division office at 216-228-9400 referencing the SMART TD Disaster Relief Fund.

— The SMART Transportation Division

This is a call to action. The burning wreckage of what used to be the Grand Old Party (GOP) is attempting to attack the labor movement immediately after the holidays while our guard is down and as the transition to the new Congress occurs. SMART is asking you to take action and contact your congressional representatives before this underhanded measure succeeds.

Last spring, the staff workers for the U.S. Congress made the bold decision to organize into the Congressional Workers Union. This union represents those brothers and sisters who put themselves on the line for us with every bill that affects the lives of working people and of those who depend on us to make our living.

It should go without saying that this new and vastly important labor organization is worthy of our support and that of the people in our country; however, they are currently in danger of being legislated out of existence by their own bosses.

A more-classic example of union busting would be hard for any writer to conjure up. The newly minted Republican leadership of the U.S. House has yet to settle on the most basic of agenda items, including who will lead them as speaker. On that topic there are many varying Republican opinions, but there is one topic the fractured GOP can coalesce around, and that is trying to bust the union their direct employees have organized.

As the first order of business of the 118th United States Congress, the GOP majority’s priority could have been many things — perhaps addressing the war in Ukraine, inflation or the multitude of issues surrounding immigration. But, predictably, these issues are not nearly as threatening to those who hold power as the idea of their own workers organizing, so they are attempting to stomp that fire out with the very first legislation they’ll undertake, thus rolling back the advancement of congressional workers. In a House rules package that will likely be voted on today, Republicans have placed a repeal of House Resolution 1096 passed last year allowing Congressional staffers to unionize.

As this article stated in the beginning, it is the hope of the new “not sworn in yet” Republican majority to catch us asleep at the switch with this post-holiday surprise. They are hoping to put their boot on the necks of their staff without us noticing or calling them out.

This is where you come in.

SMART is requesting you let your voice be heard. These staffers who make up the rank-and-file membership of the Congressional Workers Union stood with us when the terms of our national rail contract entered the arena of congressional gamesmanship late last year. They stood with us (and still do) in our efforts to secure the dignity of paid sick leave. They take our calls daily and add volume to our collective voice when we need federal intervention in our day-to-day lives. Now it is our turn to help protect this newly formed union. Their own bosses are trying to rip a budding union out of the ground before it has a chance to root. We cannot allow that to happen and stand by in silence.

With a thousand things to do today as we collectively dig out from under our holiday distractions and obligations, let us make (and keep) a worthwhile New Year’s resolution by being an active union brother/sister in 2023 and an active/conscientious citizen right out of the gate.

Please take a moment of your day TODAY to write your congressional representative in support of the Congressional Workers Union. A simple two-line email will indicate that their underhanded efforts to upend the labor movement in their own backyard is NOT going unnoticed. Follow this link to visit the Legislative Action Center to learn who your representatives are and how to contact them.

State Legislative Director Stu Gardner reports that an additional round of testimony has been scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, in House Hearing Room 114 in the Ohio Statehouse, 1 Capitol Square in Columbus, regarding H.B. 186, a comprehensive railroad safety bill under consideration in the state’s House of Representatives.
Only proponents of the bill who have not given testimony previously are eligible to state their case for this important legislation that will protect lives and preserve the safety of railroad operations in Ohio.
“Testimony is to be given by those persons (or groups) that have not testified on H.B. 186 previously,” Gardner said. “I am requesting that if you have not given testimony previously, or wish to add new testimony that you have not given before on H.B. 186, now is the time to do so.”
Gardner, rail safety legal expert Larry Mann, members of the Ohio State Legislative Board, SMART-TD members and representatives from the BLET have provided testimony in favor of this legislation, which covers the following safety issues:

  • Two-person freight train crews
  • Proper walkways in railroad yard safety legislation
  • Railroad yard lighting safety legislation
  • Blocked crossings

In an email to members, Gardner indicated that the rail carriers requested a fifth hearing (Ohio bills typically receive three committee hearings before being voted upon for advancement to the full state House) due to Mann’s strong proponent testimony delivered Nov. 19.
However, more TD members and others concerned about railroad safety need to step up and be heard, and this fifth hearing could be the last chance to convince representatives that H.B. 186 deserves passage.
“It is up to all of our advocates of the Ohio State Legislative Board and the SMART Transportation Division to step up and let these committee members hear the truth one more time,” Gardner said. “Please come and fill the hearing room, give testimony and show these representatives what we are made of.”
The bill is sponsored by Ohio Reps. Mike Sheehy, a retired rail worker and member of the SMART TD Alumni Association, and Brent Hillyer.
Proponent testimony must be provided to Matthew Taylor in Committee Chairman Doug Green’s office ( with the deadline for electronic submission of both written and in-person testimony and a witness slip being 3 p.m. Dec. 9, the Monday before the hearing. On the day of the hearing, witnesses have the option of presenting their testimony in person before the committee if they have submitted the testimony and required witness slip by the deadline.
Instructions for those wishing to testify before the committee:
Prior to committee:

  • The House Transportation and Public Safety Committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday mornings at 11 a.m. in House Hearing Room 114 in the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus.
  • Testimony is to be electronically submitted to the chairman’s office by 3 p.m. Monday afternoon.
  • A witness slip (fillable PDF) is to be completed prior to the committee meeting and should also be submitted electronically to the chairman’s office.
  • Testimony and the witness slip can be submitted at the same time and there is no need to send multiple emails.
  • Materials may be submitted to Matthew Taylor in Green’s Office at (

Day of committee:

  • Folks may arrive any time before the committee hearing begins.
  • There is no need to check in with staff so long as testimony was submitted properly.
  • Attendees may take a seat in the audience.
  • As committee begins, the chairman will announce the hearing of bills. As testimony begins on H.B. 186, the chairman will call each individual up by the name submitted on the witness slip.
  • After testimony has been given, the individual may remain in the committee room for the duration of the hearing.

Instructions for those wishing to submit written-only testimony:

  • Written-only testimony is for those who may not be able to attend the committee hearing to testify in person, or for those who may want to attend committee but do not wish to verbally testify.

Written-only testimony:

  • Testimony is to be electronically submitted to the Chairman’s Office by 3 p.m. Monday afternoon, the day before the scheduled hearing.
  • The witness slip is to be completed prior to the committee hearing and should also be submitted electronically to the Chairman’s Office.
  • Testimony and the witness slip can be submitted at the same time, and there is no need to send multiple emails.
  • Materials may be submitted to Matthew Taylor in Chairman Doug Green’s Office at (

Ohio State Legislative Director Stu Gardner requests that members from his state show their support for H.B. 186, a comprehensive rail safety bill that is receiving its first hearing in the Ohio Legislature on Tuesday, June 18.
Ohio Reps. Brent Hillyer and Michael Sheehy, who is a retired SMART TD member and a member of the TD Alumni Association, will introduce the bill at 11 a.m. to the House Transportation Committee in Room 114 at the statehouse in Columbus.
The bill covers:

  1. Two-person freight train crews
  2. Common-sense safe walkways within rail yards
  3. Common-sense illumination of rail yards
  4. Blocked crossings that obstruct and delays emergency vehicles

“An overwhelming show of support is our goal,” Gardner said. “Show those members of the Transportation Committee that we care and are serious about our safety, and the safety of the communities the we work in and pass through.”

SMART Transportation Division Minnesota State Legislative Director Phillip Qualy reports that two-person crew legislation has passed in his state’s House of Representatives as part of H.F. 1555, an omnibus transportation bill, and that a push by members and retirees alike will be needed to get it through the state Senate to the governor.
The bill passed Monday, April 29, by a 74-52 party-line vote and now moves on to the Minnesota Senate’s Transportation Conference Committee. Section 93 of the bill contains a provision setting a minimum crew size for freight trains operating in the state. H.F. 1555 also contains other important rail safety provisions, including Section 90, which set forth the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s enforcement of state safety regulations and maintenance of way track equipment crossing protections.
“The outcome of that conference committee will most likely determine whether minimum train crew language is passed into law,” Qualy said.
Qualy said that the effort of every SMART TD member and retiree in Minnesota is necessary to pass this important legislation to keep the state’s communities safe. Members, retirees and their friends and family are encouraged to call or email their state senators to talk about the important public safety aspects and assistance to first responders that two-person crews provide on the state’s rails in the case of a railroad emergency. A list of key senators to be contacted appears below.
“We need all railroad workers standing together in support of this legislation,” he said. “We need our members at the capitol. Please make your calls and emails today.”
Members of the Minnesota State Senate who should be contacted include:

The original H.F. 286, a standalone bill that sets a minimum crew size, remains on the House floor.

Georgia State Legislative Director Matt Campbell reports that his two-person crew bill (H.B.190) has been held up by a subcommittee and that the efforts of members are needed to get the bill to a vote.
He asks that Georgia members take a minute or two to send an email announcing your support for the legislation.
Campbell testified last week in support of the legislation that requires two people on freight train crews as well as a defibrillator in the cab. Campbell’s testimony was covered by an Atlanta radio station.
“We put up a good fight,” Campbell said. “But we weren’t allowed a vote … yet!”
Despite the subcommittee’s inaction, the bill can be brought to a vote by Georgia Transportation Committee Chairman Kevin Tanner, but he needs to hear from SMART TD members, family and friends in the state.
“The safety of railroad operations affect all Georgians; especially, those who live, work, or learn near a railroad line,” Campbell said. “Our state should not gamble with public safety, the stakes are too high.”
Click here to read Campbell’s full testimony.

Dear members of SMART Transportation Division:

Your help is needed to get the word out to certain members of Congress who want to take pension money from our Sheet Metal brothers and sisters and other union workers covered by multi-employer pension plans.

A decade ago, in the midst of the Great Recession, SMART and other multi-employer pension plans had the foresight to take steps to make sure they could meet their necessary obligations even during a period of financial collapse. These steps involved sacrifice on the part of these plan participants and resulted in solvent and stable pension plans able to meet their obligations for years to come.

However, there is a minority of pension plans covering about 1 million participants that did not make these changes, and these pensions could run out of money in the future. In addition, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC), which serves as a safety net for financially troubled pensions, is having money troubles of its own. It could be insolvent within a decade.

To address these shortfalls, Congress has convened a Joint Select Committee to consider ways to resolve the potential insolvencies. But the draft plan being considered by this Congressional committee could punish healthy and solvent pensions, like the one covering SMART members, for the sake of solving the financial shortfalls of the failing pensions and the PBGC.

Politicians need to know that this plan is not acceptable, and we ask that you make it clear that another solution, one that does not take money away from solvent plans, must be found.

Our SMART brothers and sisters need our help, please call. You also can text PENSION to 21233 and to be connected directly to your congressional office. Message and data rates apply for that service.

Members of the Joint Select Committee:

  • Congressman Vern Buchanan – Florida 16th 202-225-5015
  • Congresswoman Virginia Foxx – North Carolina 5th 202-225-2071
  • Congressman Phil Roe – Tennessee 1st 202-225-6356
  • Congressman David Schweikert – Arizona 6th 202-225-2190
  • Congresswoman Debbie Dingell – Michigan 12th 202-225-4071
  • Congressman Richard E. Neal – Massachusetts 1st 202-225-5601
  • Congressman Donald Norcross – New Jersey 1st 202-225-6501
  • Congressman Bobby Scott – Virginia 3rd 202-225-8351
  • Senator Orrin Hatch – Utah (Co-Chair) 202-224-5251
  • Senator Lamar Alexander – Tennessee 202-224-4494
  • Senator Michael Crapo – Idaho 202-224-6142
  • Senator Rob Portman – Ohio 202-224-3353
  • Senator Sherrod Brown – Ohio (Co-Chair) 202-224-2315
  • Senator Heidi Heitkamp – North Dakota 202-224-2043
  • Senator Joe Manchin – West Virginia 202-224-3954
  • Senator Tina Smith – Minnesota 202-224-5641

A suggested script for your call to Congress:

My name is ___________ and I am a member of SMART Transportation Division Local ____. My union brothers and sisters in the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers participate in a multi-employer defined benefit pension fund.

I am calling today to voice my strong opposition to the current proposal of the Joint Select Committee. This proposal attempts to infuse money into the broken PBGC on the backs of healthy pension plans and forces the funding status of well-performing funds to go backward.

My union does not endorse this proposal, nor do I. We expect any friend of labor to stand with us on this position.

SMART Transportation Division Colorado State Legislative Director Carl Smith reports that legislators in his state are again considering a Right to Work For Less bill.
This is the second time in two years that politicians are attempting to undermine the right to union representation in that state, Smith said. The bill, this time known as HB18-1030 “Prohibit Discrimination Labor Union Participation,” is scheduled to be heard in the Colorado House State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 24.
“Last year, we were able to provide excellent testimony and pack the room to defeat this bad legislation and send a strong statement on our thoughts about the bill,” Smith said.
Smith again asks members to unite to provide a strong turnout in opposition to this attack and is seeking SMART TD members in his state to testify before the committee in Denver.
To sign up, visit this link: or email Smith at
The goal of this type of legislation ultimately is to reduce your wages – to take money out of your pocket and to further line the pocketbooks of businesses at your expense. Right to Work For Less bills are falsely portrayed by their corporate-friendly backers as anti-discriminatory or as preserving individual rights. In reality, this kind of legislation is a thinly-veiled attempt to bust unions, to jeopardize union members’ livelihoods by making workplaces more dangerous and to maximize business profits by paying you less.
In 2008, Colorado voters were on our side and overwhelmingly rejected a ballot initiative that tried to install Right to Work For Less legislation in the state.
But since then, Smith said, misguided anti-union legislators have continued to introduce Right To Work For Less bills.
In this latest attempt, Colorado Rep. Justin Everett and state Sen. Tim Neville, both Republicans, are the primary sponsors. Everett’s office phone number is 303-866-2927. Neville’s is 303-866-4873.
Ten additional representatives and two additional senators also are signed on as sponsors of HB18-1030.
The representatives are Perry Buck, Stephen Humphrey, Timothy Leonard, Kimmi Lewis, Patrick Neville, Kim Ransom, Lori Saine, Kevin Van Winkle, Dave Williams and Cole Wist.
The senators are Chris Holbert and Vicki Marble.
Once we have come together to crush this legislative attack on our union and others, SMART TD members in Colorado are encouraged to remember this betrayal and to vote accordingly the next time they see these politicians’ names on the ballot.