SMART continues to place the needs of transit workers front and center with a first-of-its-kind exclusive training session. Bus and transit officers shared strategies and learned new techniques at the Transportation Division Albuquerque Regional Training Seminar (RTS) that wrapped up March 7.

Bus Department Vice President James Sandoval (Local 23, Santa Cruz, Calif.) led the class.

“We went over all the basics,” VP Sandoval said. “Empowering our officers to stand up and protect their contracts, defending our members from employer overreach, effective communications, transparency.” All things union officers need to know to help SMART-TD members thrive.

The regional training model was established in 2021 to widen training opportunities across the union. Officers who participate report substantial boosts in members’ win rates on claims against the carriers.

By focusing on bus and transit, SMART-TD is able to emphasize and address the hazards faced by the thousands of our members who work in passenger transport.

Christine Ivey, chair of SMART-TD’s newly formed Bus and Transit Assault Prevention and Safety (BTAPS) Committee said the focus on how the union functions will be essential going forward. Ivey also serves as vice local chairperson of Local 1785.

[More about BTAPS]

“It was insightful and really showed how all the units work together in the organization – how we work together but at times have our own separate individual concerns on our properties,” Ivey said. “I enjoyed it immensely.”

“People are super happy with what they learned,” VP Sandoval said. “As long as we have enough participants, this will continue at other RTS and the National Training Seminar. It’s a great foundation for local officers.”

Bus Department Alt. Vice President Markeisha Haynes and General Chairperson Justin Schrock also presented in Albuquerque.

SMART-TD represents numerous bus and transit properties in Los Angeles, other locations across California, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Chicago, among others. The next National Training Seminar will be held in the union’s home base of Cleveland, Ohio, July 9-11, 2024.

Members may register or learn more about the event on the RTS Information Page.

In December, SMART-TD announced the members who will serve on the Bus and Transit Assault Prevention and Safety (BTAPS) Committee. This committee, which was voted on at the 2023 SMART Leadership Conference in Washington, DC, is being chaired by Christine Ivey, a member of SMART-TD Local 1785 who works as a bus operator for the Santa Monica Municipal Bus Lines.

In addition to Sister Ivey, the members of the BTAPS Committee will be the following:

Bus members

  • Russ Gaillard, Local 1582, Adirondack Transit Lines, Albany, New York
  • Sandra Pineda, Local 1563, LACMTA, El Monte, California
  • Bruce Cheatham, Local 1594, SEPTA, Upper Darby, Pennsylvania
  • Pedro (Pete) Lara, Jr., Local 1563, LACMTA, El Monte, California

Transit/commuter members

  • Cole Czub, Local 898, KEOLIS, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Ernest Higgerson, Local 1525, Amtrak, Carbondale, Illinois
  • Joseph Williams, Local 800, New Jersey Transit, Newark, New Jersey

This committee will be focusing its efforts on lobbying at the state level and in Washington, DC, to promote bills that ensure the best demonstrated practices for transit worker safety and bring down the alarming rate of assaults on our brothers and sisters. BTAPS members will also be working with carriers, the Federal Transit Administration and other federal agencies to promote best practices to make our members safer on the job.

“I want to thank all our bus and transit members who volunteered to serve on this important committee. After careful consideration, we have chosen eight members that represent a geographically diverse cross section of our bus, transit and commuter service workforce,” SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson said. “We are lucky to have many talented people in our union, and we look forward to the progress this BTAPS Committee will make. Under Christine Ivey’s leadership, I am sure they will make an immediate impact on the safety of our bus and transit rail members.”