BNSF and UP have made a solid investment in lobbyists in Colorado and they’re getting their money’s worth.

In 2023, SMART-TD Colorado State Legislative Director Carl Smith put forward a solid railroad safety bill to the Legislature that your union wholeheartedly supported. Brother Smith has been SLD for 11 years now and knows how to do his job in the statehouse effectively for our members, getting two-person crew legislation successfully in 2019. His experience told him that the best ally he could have to carry the bill was Senate Majority Leader Dominick Moreno.

Colorado’s Legislature is only in session for 120 days every year. Accordingly, they have a limit on how many bills any state rep or senator can put forward. Smith getting SMART-TD’s Rail Safety Act sponsored by the Senate Majority Leader was a major win for us and for railroad safety as a whole. But then Moreno got less and less enthusiastic about pushing for our bill as the session went on.

Eventually his office told Smith that they thought our legislation was a perfect fit for a bipartisan select committee — the Transportation Legislation Review Committee (TLRC) — focused on transportation bills. Our union was glad to hear that because it is a bipartisan committee with members from both the House of Representatives and the Senate and when bills are selected for support from the committee, they have a history of being unstoppable in the following years legislative session.

It all sounded promising. But shortly after diverting the bill to this group, Sen. Moreno abruptly resigned and accepted a high-ranking position on the staff of Denver’s new mayor.

Last month, Smith and his legislative board were given their opportunity to present their argument as to why their Rail Safety Act was worthy of the TLRC’s support. At this meeting, they found out that they had about a 33 percent chance of successfully making it through a gauntlet while competing against 13 others bills to become one of five bills endorsed by the committee.

It turns out the mastermind who put our rail safety bill into this competition wasn’t Moreno. It was the BNSF lobbyist who gets $80,000/month from the railroad to pull slick maneuvers like this one and kill railroad safety projects. This discovery was the part in this “Scooby Doo”-style caper where Brother Smith pulled the mask of the bad guys, and it turned out to be the Railroads and their lobbyists.  

The bills that SMART is now competing against include easy-to-get-behind items like child-seat safety, free public-transit passes for students and even state highway repairs. What BNSF, UP and their high-paid lobbyists have created a scenario where they don’t have to actively campaign against the value of a rail safety bill. That would create bad press for them and an obvious pressure point for SMART-TD and the rest of rail labor to call them out. Rather than lobbying against our bill, all they need to do is campaign FOR all the other bills. It is almost impossible to create bad press for themselves for supporting improvements to safety in children’s car seats! They just have to prop up five of the other 13 bills and never have to do the work of opposing SMART’s message on long trains, blocked crossings and the rest of the commons-sense protections we’ve been advancing.

On the positive side, Brother Smith has informed the international office that Colorado’s RSA has made it through the first hurdle of this competition. Fourteen bills that were presented in June were narrowed down to 10 finalists on Aug. 21st. Colorado’s rail safety bill is still standing.

The remaining 10 finalists will be cut to five winners and five losers October 3. We are asking for the support of all our members in the State of Colorado to reach out to the 20 members of the TLRC. Let them know that you are a Colorado voter and taxpayer who stands on the side of railroad safety.

Please follow the link provided to our Legislative Action Center to submit a prewritten comment to your legislators. They need to know that we are aware of what is going on and that we are keeping track of who supports our mission of rail safety and who does not.

In Colorado’s House District 47 alone, there are over 300 SMART-TD members. The representative in that district, Ty Winter, is on the TLRC. Representative Winter, when asked by SMART-TD for his support for the legislation responded in writing by saying that, “A major concern MY STAKEHOLDERS’ have with this bill is that it significantly cuts the train length; reducing the train length will substantially cut profits, burdening these companies.”   

Colorado members, we absolutely need to remind Rep Winter who his “STAKEHOLDERS” are. We work, live and pay taxes in this state and in his district. WE are his stakeholders — not the carriers, not the railroad bosses like Katie Farmer and Jim Vena of the bloated owning class, and not the lobbyists who make more in a month than our new hires make in a year!

Lance Fritz, president and chief executive officer of the Union Pacific Railroad, is on his way out the door after announcing in late February that he will vacate his office by the end of 2023. Though there is no publicly announced date for his departure, his hand is on the ripcord and he’s preparing to deploy that golden parachute.

That being said, SMART Transportation Division Colorado State Legislative Director Carl Smith didn’t want Fritz to go without a little something to remember his legislative committee by. But rather than going with the cliché of getting Fritz a ritzy timepiece and a handshake, he rented a digital billboard truck to track Fritz around Colorado for four days in early April.

As Fritz took the executive business car around Smith’s state, he was escorted by the billboard truck that showed rotating signs that featured several messages regarding Colorado’s rejection of Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR), such as “Our Mile-High State Doesn’t Need 3 mile-long trains!” and, “It can happen here too!” with pictures of the derailment and hazmat spill in East Palestine, Ohio. Messages on the truck’s rolling billboards included a QR code that could be scanned by anyone who saw it and took people directly to the SMART Legislative Action Center, where people could support national rail safety legislation.

The truck made several stops mirroring Fritz’s Mile High State tour. First, the truck went to the Rocky Mountain Train Show at the National Western Complex in Denver. Per the train show’s website, this event averages 11,000 attendees as the largest train show west of the Mississippi River. SLD Smith had the truck there both days of the show and prompted many discussions among the train enthusiasts in attendance.

The truck stayed in Denver over the weekend but did not only target the good people attending the show. It also made its way to three governmental functions. On Saturday, the truck and its messages could be seen circling Colorado’s statehouse as legislators were holding a rare weekend session. Additionally, the truck’s presence was felt at the Colorado Democratic Assembly meeting in Denver. On Saturday evening there was a large gathering of legislators and dignitaries at what is called the Colorado Obama Gala which features the former president and all the press that naturally follows him. As you might have guessed, Smith made sure SMART-TD’s anti-PSR message crashed that, too.

On April 3, Fritz and his entourage took UP’s business train to LaSalle, Colo., for a meeting. If they thought not being in Denver would spare them the presence of Smith’s billboard truck, they were undoubtedly disappointed that it had made the 50-mile journey north to greet them in LaSalle.

On April 4, Fritz held a legislative breakfast meeting on the business train. Brother Smith and his truck made sure they made their presence felt their too. UP’s attempt to get these legislators’ undivided attention was disrupted by the Smith’s inconvenient reminder that there are real-world consequences attached to the empty rhetoric of the rail carriers and their lobbyists try to sell.

The graphics for the signs were put together in house by SMART-TD’s PR staff, and the cost for the truck was shared between the Colorado State Legislative committee, Local 202 out of Denver and other local boards of adjustment.

This effort on the part of the Colorado Legislative Committee was not all about making departing CEO Fritz and co. aware of SMART-TD’s objections to the way they run a railroad, and the public awareness the truck created throughout the state has an additional purpose.

Brother Smith has a three-pronged bill to be introduced in the halls of Colorado’s Legislature. His bill looks to directly undo some of the basic problems our faces in the era of PSR. The legislation has not been assigned a bill number yet, but seeks to limit train lengths, regulate the use of hot box defect detectors in the state and bring about penalties for the carriers to discourage blocked crossings.

Getting his box truck in front of as many Colorado voters, and news cameras as possible was a unique and creative kickoff to Smith’s campaign to get this important legislation the momentum it needs.

SMART-TD wants to thank Brother Smith, Local 202, and all the men and women who made this possible. We look forward to reporting on the progress of your bill as it makes its way through the process of becoming the law of the land in the great state of Colorado, and we hope you never stop fighting for our members!

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signs H.B. 1034 on March 21, a law making two-person freight crews required on the state’s rails.

On March 21, 2019, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed legislation into law that requires that all freight trains in the state are operated by a crew of at least two individuals.
The signing of H.B. 1034 caps a massive effort by SMART Transportation Division members that spanned years in the face of carrier opposition.
“It was a long haul and took a lot of time and energy on the part of many, many people,” Colorado State Legislative Director Carl Smith said. “Our concerted efforts did pay off, and it will ensure that the state’s railways stay safe with two crew members in each freight train’s cab.”
Smith and the Colorado State Legislative Board had an earlier two-person crew bill die in the state Senate in 2016, but tenaciously renewed their efforts early this year by gathering a broad group of supporters that included members from the six TD locals in the state, retirees, the Colorado AFL-CIO, Colorado Professional Firefighters, Conservation Colorado and American Federation of Teachers.
H.B. 1034 was first introduced by state Reps. Tom Sullivan and Daneya Esgar on Jan. 4, passed committee and was initially passed, 39-23, on Feb. 5 by the full House. State Sen. Jessie Danielson was the bill’s prime sponsor in the Senate, where it passed, 19-15, on Feb. 25 after amendment. The House passed the amended bill again March 4 by an identical 39-23 vote, putting the bill on Polis’ desk.

“Without these legislators’ understanding of the importance of this issue to the safety of our state’s railways, this would not have been possible,” Smith said.
Also helping the cause was strong public recognition by Colorado residents and legislators that train crew size is a safety-oriented issue.
On Jan. 9, the Colorado State Legislative Board released the results of a survey that showed strong support among Coloradans for a law requiring two-person crews. The survey, conducted Jan. 2 – Jan. 5, asked 550 random Colorado residents older than 18, using both cell phones and landlines, about issues centered around railroad safety. The results showed that 77 percent of Coloradans said that, given the chance, they would vote in favor of a two-person crew law.
A website ( established by the state legislative board and a coalition of TD members and members of other unions also assisted in spreading understanding about the importance of the two-person legislation in Colorado, which joins Arizona, California, West Virginia and Wisconsin as states that have legislation requiring two people to operate freight trains.
“I am very pleased that Colorado has adopted this sensible requirement,” SMART Transportation Division National Legislative Director John Risch said. ”This is a matter of public safety, plain and simple. Freight railroad operations are complex and often entail the transport of highly hazardous materials; two crew members are vital to ensuring that these trains are operated safely and that our communities are secure.”
The Colorado law takes effect July 1.

Two-person freight crew safety legislation is one step closer to becoming law in Colorado with the state Senate’s passage of House Bill 1034 (H.B. 1034).
After its 19-15 passage on Feb. 25 in the Senate, the bill is on the desk of Democratic Gov. Jared Polis for consideration after a successful March 4 reconciliation vote in the House.
Polis has three options — signing the bill to make it state law, vetoing the bill or not signing the bill. If he chooses not to sign the bill, it will then become law after 10 days of inaction.
“We need to let the governor know that this is a grassroots effort with the safety of the public in mind,” Colorado State Legislative Director Carl Smith said.
Through the process, members in the state, as well as their families and friends, have been instrumental in supporting the efforts of the Colorado State Legislative Board to get the two-person crew bill through the Legislature and onto the governor’s desk.
Help is needed one more time for that final push. Members, their families and friends in Colorado all can voice their support for the legislation by following the link below:
Show your support for the Colorado two-person crew bill.
Smith said that he is optimistic that Polis, who as a U.S. representative was a co-sponsor of the 2017 Safe Freight Act legislation, will support the bill once he hears from SMART members, their families and anyone else in the state who is concerned about rail safety.
H.B. 1034 first passed the Colorado House on Feb. 5 by a 39-23 vote.

The state of Colorado is one step closer to having a two-person crew law on the books. After a third reading of House Bill 1034 (HB19-1034), a vote was taken on the house floor Feb. 5, and the bill passed with a vote of 39 – 23.
“We are glad the Colorado House of Representatives care about railroad worker safety and community safety for the citizens of the state,” Colorado State Legislative Director Carl Smith said. “We are confident that the state Senate will hold the same beliefs.”
On Jan. 9, the Colorado State Legislative Board released the results of a survey conducted by DFM Research on behalf of SMART TD showing that Coloradans held strong support for two-person crews. The survey, conducted Jan. 2 – 5, 2019, asked 550 random Colorado residents about issues centered on railroad safety. The results showed that 77 percent of Coloradans said that they would vote in favor of two-person crews if given the chance.
Click here to follow the progress of HB19-1034.

SMART Transportation Division Colorado State Legislative Director Carl Smith reports that efforts by some state legislators to advance a Right to Work For Less bill were stopped in committee.
By a 6-3 vote, members of the state House’s Colorado House State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee voted to postpone the bill indefinitely, effectively killing it.
It was the second time in two years that politicians in Colorado tried to undermine the right to union representation in that state, Smith said.
He said that many SMART members from both TD and sheet metal sides turned out Jan. 24 in Denver to have their voices heard by legislators.
The bill, this time known as HB18-1030 “Prohibit Discrimination Labor Union Participation,” was primarily sponsored by state Rep. Justin Everett and state Sen. Tim Neville, both Republicans.
Ten additional representatives and two additional senators also were signed on as sponsors of HB18-1030. The representatives were Perry Buck, Stephen Humphrey, Timothy Leonard, Kimmi Lewis, Patrick Neville, Kim Ransom, Lori Saine, Kevin Van Winkle, Dave Williams and Cole Wist.
The senators were Chris Holbert and Vicki Marble.
SMART TD members in Colorado are encouraged to vote accordingly the next time they see these politicians’ names listed on the ballot.

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.

Colorado State Legislative Director Carl Smith reports that the Colorado House of Representatives’ Transportation and Energy Committee will hear public testimony on House Bill 1136 (H.B. 1136). H.B. 1136 is the state’s two-person crew bill for freight trains operating within the state. The hearing will be held Thursday, Feb. 25, at 10 a.m. at the Colorado State Capitol, 200 E. Colfax, Denver, CO, in room 0112. “Members are encouraged to attend the hearing and show their support for this important safety bill,” Smith said. “Colorado residents can use to contact their state legislators and encourage them to support H.B. 1136 for safety.”