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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (Nov. 3, 2023) — SMART Transportation Division (SMART-TD) members working under the proposed agreement voted, with approximately two-thirds in favor, to ratify a tentative agreement the union had reached with BNSF in late September, union leadership announced today.

Negotiations with BNSF under Articles VI and VII of the National Rail Agreement began in January following wide national attention brought by the fight of rail labor led by SMART-TD, the nation’s largest freight railroad union, to improve rail workers’ quality of life. The tentative agreement with BNSF was reached by the eight affected SMART-TD General Committees in late September. Votes were cast through the month of October and tabulated Nov. 2, 2023.

The general chairpersons involved include GO 001’s Mike LaPresta, GO 009’s Scott Swiatek, GO 017’s Rich O’Connell, GO 020’s Justin Schrock, GO 386’s Larry Miller, GO 393’s Kevin Kime, GO 577’s Roy Davis, and Tony McAdams from GO JTD. 

Additional information and details regarding the agreement can be found at this link.

Under the next phase of this process, SMART-TD and BNSF will begin implementing the agreed-upon changes. Members who are eligible for additional vacation will have the opportunity to schedule that vacation in 2024. Implementation of other provisions of the agreement will take place over the coming weeks and months.

In a joint statement, the eight general chairpersons of the involved committees had this to say about the tentative agreement: 

“We would like to thank our members for their patience throughout the negotiation process, and for casting their votes. The overwhelming approval ratings prove that our members see the value in this agreement. We were determined to obtain meaningful improvements to our working conditions, and this agreement does exactly that. While our fight is never over, we are confident that this will serve as a substantial step in the right direction.”

TD General Chairpersons representing BNSF members

The general chairpersons also expressed appreciation to Vice President Joe Lopez, who helped lead negotiations, along with Vice Presidents Chad Adams and Jamie Modesitt. The VPs made the following joint comment:

“Our general chairpersons showed exemplary leadership and cohesion through the up-and-down nature of these discussions,” the vice presidents said. “We congratulate them on their accomplishments and commend them on their focus on what matters — improving the quality of life and working conditions of our members.”

“This agreement our General Committees have reached with BNSF continues to show the strength of our union’s leadership. Together we have made unprecedented inroads on attendance and quality of life issues — an area carriers had no interest to collectively bargain,” said SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson. “We have cleared the way for our members on BNSF to expect predictability in their work rest schedules, while at the same time securing proper compensation on a variety of issues that were not agreed to in past rounds of national negotiations. It was long overdue that these issues be addressed. I’m very proud of everyone’s efforts to get this accomplished.”

Robert Kevin Spragg, 59, passed away Monday, June 20, 2022. An active member of Local 1420 (Memphis, Tenn.) since August 1998, Spragg served as the local chairperson for LCA-001A (BNSF) since 2012 and as a delegate at the 2014 and 2019 conventions. He was a dedicated union man.

“Kevin worked over 25 years for BNSF Railway and was Local Yard Chairman of SMART-TD Union Local 1420, where he was regularly sought-after by his colleagues for guidance, advice, and a friendly, no B.S., humorous personality,” his obituary said.

In his downtime Brother Spragg loved entertaining family and friends, traveling and collecting antiques. He was also an avid New York Yankees fan and liked cooking, classic movies and yacht rock. He was known as a person who checked on and helped others.

Brother Spragg is survived by his wife, Georgia Cooper Spragg; his mother, Anita Spragg; brother, Steve Spragg (Paula); sons, Jesse Cooper (Lizzy), Ryan Spragg (Cindy), Tyler Spragg (Sydney); granddaughters, Molly Elizabeth Cooper and Allie Spragg; grandson, Ozzy Spragg; nephew Hunter Spragg; nieces, Sophie Townsend and Megan Rasberry; as well as a large extended family and friends.

A celebration of life will be held at Memphis Funeral Home, 5599 Poplar Ave., Memphis, TN on Saturday, June 25, from 1 to 4 p.m. The family requests that donations be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or to the World Wildlife Fund in lieu of flowers.

“Kevin has been active in Local 1420 for many years and will certainly be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with Brother Spragg’s family,” GO 001 leadership said in a statement.

SMART-TD extends its heartfelt condolences to Brother Spragg’s family, friends, Local 1420 and to all who knew him.

Follow this link to read his obituary or to extend condolences.