SMART Army members from Local 278 (Jackson, Mich.) and Local 1438 (Lincoln Park, Mich.) delivered two cords of firewood to our United Auto Workers (UAW) brothers and sisters in UAW Local 1248 in front of the Mopar Parts Distribution Center in Romulus, Mich. SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson purchased the wood for the UAW strike lines last week while Locals 278 and 1438 took it from there and got it where it needed to go.  

SMART Army members from TD Locals 278 and Local 1438 unload two cords of wood donated by SMART-TD President Ferguson. UAW Local 1248 Strike Captain John Baker, in red shirt close to trailer, said they were in dire need of the wood donation given how quickly the temperatures were dropping.

The union’s donation was well-timed for the men and women on the Stellantis picket line. When SMART-TD’s Nick Greficz spoke to UAW 1248 Strike Captain John Baker, he told Brother Greficz they were in dire need of fuel for their fires. He told Greficz how quickly the temperatures has been dropping with each passing day in late October and that colder weather was taking its toll on morale on the line. 

President Ferguson got the idea to donate firewood to the effort while walking the line in Toledo, Ohio, at a Stellantis plant that produces Jeep Gladiators. The UAW reps in Toledo told them that keeping the burn barrels stocked was a challenge.  

So with cold weather on the horizon, Ferguson committed resources to fulfill a need in solidarity with the UAW prior to the union’s announcement that tentative agreements had been reached with the nation’s Big Three automakers. 

SMART-TD Local 1438 and Local 278 members walk with UAW Local 1248 members in front of Mopar Parts Distribution Center in Romulus, Mich.
SMART-TD Local 1438 and Local 278 members walk with UAW Local 1248 members in front of Mopar Parts Distribution Center in Romulus, Mich.

As the expression goes, “There is strength in numbers.” That being said, our union’s about to get stronger.

Through the efforts of SMART-TD’s Michigan State Legislative Director Don Roach and TD Organizer Nick Greficz (GO 687 in Detroit, Mich.), our union has organized the operating personnel of Lake State Railway Company (LSRC) in Saginaw, Mich.

In this photo courtesy of LSRC employee & future member Tom Scott, a Lake State Railway train operates in Michigan.

In an effort that began in 2020, brothers Roach and Greficz had their goal realized in July when our newest brothers and sisters voted to certify and become a SMART-TD local under GO 049.

At the time of the certification vote, there were 39 LSRC employees eligible to become members of the union; however, as a testament to our new members’ work, LSRC has been expanding its customer base and has been hiring more operating crew. By the time their local is officially part of the union, they estimate that they will have membership in the mid-50s with plans on further expansion.

These new members service rail customers ranging from Wixom, Mich., as far north as Gaylord, Mich., and east to Port Huron. They serve a wide range of industries in their territory. The operation is based in Saginaw, the site of LSRC’s largest yard and hub of operations. In addition to Saginaw, LSRC has yards in Flint, Wixom, Midland, Bay City, Pinconning, Tawas, Alpena, Grayling and Gaylord.

In speaking with SLD Roach, he wanted it to be known that SMART-TD is the only union representing the employees of this short line and will be representing trainmen in all crafts. He said, “It took a few years, but we finally got it done. Organizer Nick Greficz deserves much of the credit. He was the boots on the ground, and we couldn’t have pulled this off without him.”

SLD Roach began his career with the railroad working this line as an engineer for CSXT prior to the Class I leasing the track rights to LSRC. When LSRC took over this line and serviced his old territory as a non-union shop, he took it personally.

“It’s infuriating when Class I railroads lease these tracks to non-union railroads. It makes it personal for me. To see our former members working without the benefits of a union contract is unacceptable. I want to thank the LSRC employees for reaching out to SMART and voicing their concerns.” Roach said.

In the case of LSRC employees organizing into SMART-TD, Director Roach’s personal victory has become a victory for our organization.