A conductor watches Canton RR locomotive 1906 pull forward on July 3. (Photo courtesy George Pitz of the Canton Railroad Past & Present Facebook group).

SMART Transportation Division represents roughly 100,000 members across the United States. With much of our time and efforts focused on helping large properties that affect thousands of members at a time, it is easy to understand how our brothers and sisters who work for smaller outfits and short line railroads could feel that their accomplishments are overshadowed by the events happening on a more national scale involving the behemoth Class I carriers.

The reality is that SMART-TD is the biggest and best labor union in transportation, and we have the capacity to focus on many issues and areas simultaneously. An example of the commitment this union has to even its smallest groups of members occurred Thursday, July 20 in the Baltimore, Md. area.

The Canton Railroad Co. is a small freight operation outside of Baltimore that services the shipping docks there. SMART-TD represents all the transportation crafts at this property. Under their current contract, these workers were given nothing but 2% annual increases. These “raises” didn’t do much to take the edge off the cost of living in a major metropolitan area on the East Coast.

As these members were up for a new contract, SMART-TD General Chairperson Tommy Gholson (GO-898) went to Baltimore and was enlisted to fight on their behalf.

In his words, when General Chairperson Gholson got to the property, he couldn’t help but notice that for an operation with four front-line employees, it had three executives on the property to negotiate on behalf of the carrier. Not only did this indicate to Brother Gholson that the organization was obviously top-heavy, but it indicated that the Canton Railroad Co. was doing just fine financially. The other crafts on the property had negotiated for 8% raises over the next four years, which was significantly higher than the increase the company was offering our SMART-TD members and had agreed to in the recent past.

Needless to say, when the carrier attempted to explain how they could not afford to agree to higher wage increases because they were in hard times, Brother Gholson did not accept their story.

At the conclusion of the rather one-sided negotiations, Brother Gholson and the SMART-TD Local 610 members had obtained a tentative agreement offering them a 15.83% compounded wage increase over the life of the agreement. In addition, our members also had locked in a cap to their health and welfare costs in their agreement that froze their employee contribution for four years. Not only was this new agreement a massive increase from the historical trend, but it also roughly doubled the pay increases negotiated by other unions for the other crafts working on the Canton Railroad Co.

The tentative agreement was quickly ratified by a unanimous vote.

General Chairperson Gholson wanted to make sure that all Local 610 members appreciated how vital a role their local representatives played in this successful negotiation.

“From starting off with the Section 6 process to the ratification of this agreement, Local Chairperson Rob Levine was instrumental in getting his members a fair deal,” Gholson said. “He wasn’t willing to take ‘no’ for an answer on the issues that meant the most for his crew base. From wages to health and wellness, Brother Levine fought the good fight and knocked it out of the park.”

For his part in this negotiation, Local Chairperson Levine said, “We’re putting our life on the line each and every day. These crews deserve to be compensated for that. You can’t put a price tag on a life, but you can recognize the facts on the ground and compensate the men and women accordingly.”

SMART-TD would like to congratulate the Local 610 members of the Canton Railroad Co., and we would also like to thank General Chairperson Gholson and Local Chairperson Levine for their efforts in making sure that all the hard-working men and women in this organization are well represented!

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (April 28, 2023) — Conductors and trainmen on CSX northern lines ratified an agreement for paid sick time today.

SMART Transportation Division GO-049 negotiated the deal with CSX Transportation earlier this month, but it still faced approval by the membership and local officers. Today, SMART-TD General Chairperson Richard Lee announced that the agreement was ratified by the majority of ballots returned.

The lack of paid sick time within the railroad industry was highlighted in the media in 2022 when workers rejected a tentative national agreement that covered most railroad carriers and labor organizations, almost leading to a shutdown of the nation’s vital supply chain.

Since then, CSX reached agreements with several non-operating-craft labor organizations. However, CSX and other Class I carriers failed to reach an agreement with any operating-craft labor organization. The operating crafts (which include engineers, conductors and trainmen) have what is perceived as the most demanding of working conditions of the railroad crafts due to the travel requirements, working in the elements and the on-call nature of their positions. This agreement establishes a benefit in the railroad industry that the majority of the American workforce already enjoy.

In addition to paid sick time, the agreement, which covers approximately 2,400 conductors and trainmen on CSX Northern line, also adopts the current attendance policy put in place by CSX into the collective bargaining agreement. Railroads in the past have been reluctant to negotiate attendance and this is another first for the operating workforce as it subjects the former policy (now agreement) to negotiations if any changes are desired by either the carrier or the employees in the future. In return, the carrier gained flexibility and cost savings through provisions that allow conductors and trainmen to drive company-provided vehicles under certain conditions and also settled a long-term dispute between the SMART-TD and CSX regarding assignment placement.

“It’s refreshing and impressive to see the overwhelming support of the membership on this tentative agreement. It is also encouraging that SMART-TD and CSX leadership were able to sit down at the table and reach a consensus on items as important as these. I am hopeful this momentum will carry forward in future negotiations and help us collectively improve the working conditions and overall moral at CSX,” GC Lee said when asked about his overall feelings on the issues and outcome of the process.

Upon the initial announcement of the tentative agreement being reached, SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy, Ferguson said, “We thank CSX CEO Joseph Hinrichs and Executive Vice President Jamie Boychuk for exhibiting flexibility and working with our union in a collaborative manner in reaching this tentative agreement. This serves as a vital first step to giving T&E personnel the paid sick time they deserve, and I am hopeful this accommodation will be soon be extended to the employees working under the jurisdiction of the other General Committees at CSX as well.”

About SMART Transportation Division GO-049

SMART Transportation Division GO-049 (General Committee of Adjustment) is based in Jacksonville, FL. The General Committee negotiates and maintains property agreements for approximately 2,600 railroad employees in the northeastern quadrant of the United States including several short-line carriers and CSX Transportation. GO-049 is one General Committee of 62 that make up SMART-TD, the largest freight railroad labor union in the United States.

LOS ANGELES, (August 4, 2022) — The efforts by the SMART-TD General Committee of Adjustment GO 875 negotiation team have resulted in a new agreement for the bus and rail operators of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA), which serves more than 10 million people in the nation’s most-populous county within a 1,433-square-mile service area.

On Friday, July 29, 2022, the California Mediation and Conciliation Service tabulated votes and reported 68.5% of voters had approved the agreement.

Bottom left: Office Secretary Rosana Santana; Operations Manager Maria Magallon; and Administrative Assistant Iveth Lopez. Top, from left, negotiation consultant Victor Baffoni; Local 1607 Chairperson Julio Mejia; GCA Secretary and Local 1564 Chairperson Andy Carter; General Chairperson John M. Ellis; Local 1608 Chairperson Edgar Menendez; Vice General Chairperson/Local 1565 Chairperson Quintin Wormley; Local 1563 Chairperson Robert Gonzalez and Local 1565 Chairperson (Rail) Johnny Cabanas celebrate the announcement of the LACMTA contract ratification by members.

General Chairperson John M. Ellis, Retired SMART-TD Vice President and Negotiation Consultant Victor Baffoni and Vice General Chairperson/Local 1565 Chairperson Quintin Wormley; GCA Secretary/Local 1564 Chairperson Andy Carter and Local Chairpersons Robert Gonzalez (1563), LCA-875B Chairperson John Cabanas (Rail), Julio Mejia (1607), Edgar Menendez (1608) and Operations Manager/Consultant Assistant Maria D.L. Magallon are proud to announce the bus and rail operators of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted overwhelmingly to accept the Authority’s proposed contract. The contract will be in effect for the next five years and contains a 26.6% wage increase through June 30, 2027, over the five-year period.

SMART obtained an appreciation pay for LACMTA members who worked through the COVID-19 pandemic. No changes were made to employee benefits, and the pool of full-time operators also has the opportunity to expand with the offering of full-time positions to any interested part-time operator, provided they apply by Aug. 15, 2022. The contract also modifies the carrier’s disciplinary procedures, allowing for a streamlined appeals and arbitration process. It also updates sick leave and modifications to work rules.

GC Ellis stated: “This is a historic, record-setting contract agreement. We believe that this new contract represents a significant improvement and protection in wages and benefits for our 4,600+ members and their families.” He noted that the overwhelmingly positive vote was a strong indicator that union members were pleased with the agreement and the new contract represents a monumental accomplishment.

“This agreement has rectified concerns from previous contracts and has paved the way to amend future matters that may arise,” Ellis said. “We are pleased to have been able to put together a contract that speaks volume, as powerful as this one in turbulent times such as these.”

SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy R. Ferguson said: “We’re very excited, extraordinarily proud and grateful for the efforts by SMART-TD GO 875 Committee’s dedication. In a recent visit to Los Angeles over the spring, it was a pleasure to encounter the spirit and solidarity of GO 875. I saw and heard firsthand about the great work that they do and had a chance to engage their membership as they voiced their concerns in a town hall meeting. This contract is a great step ahead and congratulations to all involved!”

GC Ellis also stated: “I appreciate the patience our membership showed during these past stressful years, and I thank every single one of our members for their support during this process.”

The contract will now be presented to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for their consideration. The Board is expected to vote on the agreement in late August or in September.

Amtrak employees represented by SMART Transportation Division General Committees of Adjustment GO-769, GO-663, and GO-342 (Conductors, Assistant Conductors, and Yardmasters) voted in overwhelming favor of ratifying a tentative agreement reached last month.
The agreement, effective April 1, 2018, provides a compounded 18.83 percent pay increase over the life of the contract, which runs through 2021, plus retroactive pay.
The contract also caps monthly healthcare contributions at $228 while adding services such as telemedicine and a fixed 24-month continuation of coverage period, among others. It establishes AMPLAN 1A, a lower-cost healthcare plan that will be available to all employees beginning Jan. 1, 2019, and compulsory for new hires during their first five years of service.
For members of the military who lose earnings because of their service, the agreement accounts for up to 120 hours of “make whole” pay.
Follow this link to view a synopsis of the now-ratified agreement.
SMART TD President John Previsich and Vice Presidents John England and John Lesniewski led the negotiating team, and a tentative agreement was reached Jan. 11.
“Their combined efforts were instrumental in reaching our goal of gaining wage increases and certification allowances that are comparable to industry standards,” General Chairperson Dirk Sampson (GO-769) said in a Feb. 6 letter to his membership announcing the vote results.
General Chairperson Robert Keeley (GO-342) in a letter to his membership expressed gratitude to leadership and to fellow members of the negotiating committee, including Vice General Chairperson Charlie Yura and Secretary Rick Pauli.
“We walked into negotiations together and we found success together,” Keeley said.
As did his fellow GCs, Fran Ariola, general chairperson of GO-663, expressed appreciation to leadership, members of the negotiating team, his colleagues and to his membership.
“I would like to thank you for this opportunity to represent our GCA and our members during this negotiation process,” Ariola wrote in a Feb. 6 letter.

By a margin of nearly four to one, SMART Transportation Division members have voted to APPROVE the new National Rail Contract. The voting was conducted by BallotPoint Election Services, who certified the following results for each craft eligible to vote:

Engine Service76.58%23.42%

The approved contract will have an effective date of December 1, 2017, with implementation of new pay rates and employee healthcare cost-sharing modifications planned for January 1, 2018. Employees’ monthly healthcare contributions will remain frozen at $228.89 for the life of the contract.
The term of the agreement is for five years, from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2019. In addition to a 3% increase previously negotiated and already implemented on January 1, 2015, the contract provides for full retroactive pay of 2% from July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017, and 4% from July 1, 2017, until implementation of the new rates. Thereafter, affected members will receive a boost in wage rates of 2.5% on July 1, 2018, and 3% on July 1, 2019.
The ratified contract will cover over 35,000 SMART TD members employed by BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern, Kansas City Southern, Union Pacific and numerous smaller carriers, all of whom were represented in this round of bargaining by the rail industry’s National Carriers’ Conference Committee.
The SMART TD negotiating team was led by President John Previsich, who was assisted in the negotiations by Vice Presidents David Wier, John Lesniewski, Troy Johnson, John England, Doyle Turner and Jeremy Ferguson, along with General Chairpersons Danny Young (BNSF), Mark Cook (NS), Brent Leonard (UP) and Steve Mavity (CSX), all four of whom are nationally elected TD officers in addition to serving as General Chairpersons.
For this round of bargaining, SMART TD joined forces with five other unions to form the Coordinated Bargaining Group. The other unions in the CBG are the American Train Dispatchers Association; the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (a Division of the Rail Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters); the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen; the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers, and Helpers and the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers/SEIU.
President Previsich commented: “I believe that our negotiating team, along with the teams from the other unions in the CBG, are to be commended for staying the course during a long and tedious round of negotiations. The easy thing for them to do when the going got tough was to declare defeat and walk away from the negotiating table, as others have done, but our team never wavered. By rejecting the carriers’ unreasonable demands while staying at the table and continuing to negotiate, the team was successful in obtaining an agreement that achieved an approval rate of 79.57%.”


The SMART Transportation Division, formerly the United Transportation Union, is the largest rail union in the United States representing members in all operating crafts, including engineers, conductors, trainmen, switchmen and yardmasters.

Follow this link to view this release in PDF form.

bus2The maintenance workers of First Student Inc. of Bus Local 1908 in Rochester, N.Y. have ratified a four-year agreement. The agreement was approved with 17 members voting for the agreement and one against, for a total of 18 votes. 

A collective effort improved work rules, created a travel time per diem for techs, increasing boot and tool allowance. Additionally, a wage increase of 9.5 percent with an Automated Service Excellence (ASE) incentive program increasing hourly wages up to 80 cents per hour.

ASE are certification tests (diesel engines, suspension and steering, heating and A/C, brakes, preventative maintenance, etc.) taken by mechanics. After passing, the mechanics will receive 10 cents per test with a maximum of eight tests. First Student has agreed to pay for each test and for one retest if the test is failed the first time. Each certification lasts for five years before the mechanics will have to be re-certified. A mechanic can pick and choose which tests he or she would like to take and receive the incentive.

“I would like to give recognition to Local Chairperson Jonathan Connors, with the negotiating committee; Vice Local Chairperson Doug Pearce, Local Committee Secretary Todd Clevenger, Shop Steward Mark Meuse and Technicians Sean Irwin and Chris Divens. Everyone worked long evenings in the effort to bring a superior agreement to the membership in Rochester,” Alternate Vice President-Bus Alvy Hughes said.