SMART-TD General Committee of Adjustment 261 representing our members working on the CP-SOO property were dealt a blow when General Chairperson Gerald Wallace passed away July 16th. Less than two weeks later, on July 27, Vice President John (J.D.) Whitaker III, who served as their advocate assigned to work on their behalf at the SMART-TD national level, passed away. 

SMART TD Vice President John Whitaker III
SMART TD Vice President John Whitaker III

These two men were tireless champions for the cause of rail labor. Their loss will be felt by SMART-TD as a whole and especially by the men and women of CP-SOO for years to come. This is an inescapable truth. However, their legacy and the benefits that are the product of their aggressive leadership will stay with the members as well.  

Our brothers and sisters in the seven terminals SMART represents on the CP-SOO properties resoundingly cemented the legacy of these two men recently by ratifying the agreement that was the last project brothers Wallace and Whitaker had collaborated on. The agreement received a solid majority of 65% voting to ratify the agreement.  

This vote to ratify was not based on sentiment. The agreement brothers Wallace and Whitaker pounded out for GO-261 warranted this mandate of support. With the ratification of this agreement, our brothers and sisters on the CP-SOO properties agreed to a three-year agreement that compounds over the life of the agreement to roughly a 15.5% raise in wages. The raises for 2022 and 2023 come complete with retro pay so the immediate impact of this agreement will be substantial.  

SMART TD Auxiliary Secretary-Treasurer Denise ‘Niki’ Wallace and General Chairperson Gerald Wallace

For 2022, the raise is 7%, with 4% raises in 2023 and 2024. In addition to the rise in financial compensation, this agreement also came complete with an additional personal leave day starting in 2023.  

When talking to the Acting General Chairperson for GCA-261, Vince Ramirez, he told SMART News that he would like to dedicate this win to these two men and their legacies.  

“It is with immense pride that I acknowledge the hard work, dedication and commitment that the committee demonstrated throughout this whole process. In this moment of triumph, we are acutely aware of the absence of former General Chairperson Gerry Wallace, as well as SMART-TD Vice President John D. Whitaker,” Ramirez said. “The unwavering visions and leadership of these men were instrumental in bringing this endeavor to fruition. Their absence is deeply felt, and their legacy resonates in the success of this agreement. We will honor their memory with every step we take forward.” 

SMART-TD echoes the sentiments of Acting GC Ramirez and would like to add that we have every confidence that he and the team of professionals in GCA-261 will be successful in carrying the mantle left to them by the passing of Whitaker and Wallace.  

General Chairperson Gerald Wallace (GCA-261 — Canadian Pacific, Soo Line), a stalwart leader of our union and the husband of SMART Transportation Division Auxiliary Secretary & Treasurer Denise “Niki” Wallace, died July 16 after a long, courageous fight with cancer. He was 56.

SMART TD Auxiliary Secretary-Treasurer Denise “Niki” Wallace and General Chairperson Gerald Wallace are shown in this photo by the family. Brother Wallace passed away after a battle with cancer at age 56.

Brother Wallace joined our union in 2005 and after six years of membership began a period of 12 years of leadership, first as a vice local chairperson of LCA-261A (Milwaukee Road). Starting in 2011, he began eight years as a local chairperson.

He served three years as the trustee of Local 590 (Portage, Wis.), once as the local’s alternate delegate to the UTU Convention in 2011 and then as delegate to the SMART-TD Conventions in 2014 and 2019.

Concurrently, Brother Wallace worked his way up the leadership ladder in GCA-261 as well, serving as GCA secretary, vice chairperson and acting general chairperson before becoming general chairperson in 2019.

Local 590 Legislative Representative Steve James expressed his sadness at his union brother’s passing.

“A great man can now rest and be at peace,” James said. “He became one of my best friends ever.”

Brother Wallace and Niki frequently attended union functions and were often enthusiastic participants in the regional meetings.

He is survived by his wife, his children, Dustin A. Wallace, Sierra M. Hall and Dylon T. Hall; two grandchildren; his parents; his sister; his in-laws; nieces, nephews, other relatives and many friends

A Celebration of Life will be 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 29, 2023, at Big Spring Congregational Church, 373 Golden Ct., Wisconsin Dells, with a sharing of memories at noon with Chaplain Jessica Smith officiating.

SMART Transportation Division is shocked and saddened by this loss and sends our deepest condolences to Sister Wallace, the family and friends of GC Wallace, his brothers and sisters in GCA-261 and Local 590, and all who knew him.