Sam Nasca, the dean of active SMART Transportation Division state legislative directors, who led union efforts for at least 32 years in the state of New York, passed away on Feb. 14, 2024, at the age of 90.

New York State Legislative Director Sam Nasca passed away Feb. 14 at age 90.

Brother Nasca first joined the union in 1959 and was in his 64th year as an active member of our organization. He hired out as a trainman and worked for the Erie, Erie Lackawanna and Conrail railroads. He was the last active SMART-TD officer who had been a member of the union prior to the merger that created the United Transportation Union (UTU) in 1968.

“Brother Nasca was a reliable and trusted leader since well before some current national officers had even hired on,” National Legislative Director Gregory Hynes said. “He had a major effect on the progress our union has made in New York.”

SLD Nasca’s noteworthy longevity resulted in him being a well-respected advocate for labor in the state capital of Albany and in his hometown. In December 2023, Nasca was honored for his nearly three decades of leadership with the Hornell City Democrats in the town where he lived.

Three days later, on Dec. 8, 2023, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a two-person crew bill, fulfilling a long-term goal of the union in the Empire State and making New York the third state that year to pass and put into law a two-person crew provision.

Having had the opportunity to sign similar legislation a year earlier, Nasca and his SLB’s persuasive effort toward Hochul undoubtedly had an influence in making the 2PC bill into law the second time around.

“You do not accomplish things legislatively by giving in after a single setback,” Alt. National Legislative Director Jared Cassity said. “He and the New York State Legislative Board took Gov. Hochul’s failure to sign in 2022 to heart and got the bill signed the year following.”

As a sign of respect, Nasca was among the final people to be named to the SMART-TD Executive Board at the 2019 TD Convention in Las Vegas prior to that body’s dissolution. He also took part in multiple negotiations during his long, distinguished career on the bus and rail properties in his state to achieve just contracts for workers.

He had also contributed to the union’s political efforts from the first day as a member of the Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen. He remained a contributor to TD PAC until his death.

Brother Nasca served in the United States Air Force from 1952-1957, based primarily in Texas and Germany, and received a Good Conduct Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.

He is survived by two daughters and two sons; eight grandchildren and a great-grandson. He is also survived by two brothers; several nieces and nephews; and his companion, Judy Masti.

Calling hours are 1-4 p.m. Feb. 25, 2024, at the Bishop-Johnson & DeSanto Funeral Home, 285 Main Street, Hornell, N.Y. Relatives and friends are invited to join his family at St. Ann’s Church, 31 Erie Avenue, Hornell where a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Feb. 26, 2024.

The SMART Transportation Division offers its heartfelt condolences to SLD Nasca’s family, friends the New York SLB and our membership in the Empire State. Brother Nasca’s life and legacy as a labor advocate serves as an example of unyielding commitment to the cause of the worker that we all can learn from and use as an inspiration. 

Given a second chance to act, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has chosen to side with safety.

In late 2022, a bill requiring two-person crews on freight trains in the state reached her desk and she vetoed it.

But something changed this year — perhaps it was seeing legislatures and governors in both Ohio and Minnesota to the west take the steps to pass legislation or the catastrophic derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, that happened in February.

On Dec. 8, Hochul signed S.5775 into law, capping a superlative effort from SMART-TD’s New York State Legislative Board led by State Legislative Director Sam Nasca.

A mere three years ago, a bill establishing a minimum freight crew size did not even make it out of a state Senate committee. Now, New York is the third state this year to pass and have the governor sign 2PC legislation, bringing the total number of states to have implemented legislation or regulations regarding a minimum two-person crew to a dozen.

“Another state has come to the conclusion that a two-person crew is appropriate and necessary for safe railroad operations,” National Legislative Director Greg Hynes said. “We thank all of the legislators, especially state Sen. Timothy Kennedy, who introduced the bill in his chamber, and Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli for their leadership.”

“Congratulations to all on the TD New York State Legislative Board for pulling together and achieving another victory.”

The bill was introduced in March and establishes an escalating structure of fines for violations by Class I and II rail carriers that run freight trains without two on the crew in the state. It takes effect in January 2024.

A national regulation on crew size remains pending before the Federal Railroad Administration.