Recently, employees of the Brownsville & Rio Grande International Railway and Brega Transportation both voted for SMART TD representation.

Brownsville & Rio Grande International Railway, LLC

Carmen, train and engine service, locomotive mechanics and maintenance of way personnel of the Brownsville & Rio Grande International Railway (BRG) all voted for SMART TD representation June 13. On June 14, 2017 The National Mediation Board certified that SMART has been duly designated and authorized to represent the carmen, train and engine service, locomotive mechanics and maintenance of way employees of Brownsville & Rio Grande International Railway.
“The employees faced many hurdles and constant pressure from the company to vote against organizing,” SMART TD Director of Organizing Rich Ross said. “They are a tight knit group that deserves the benefits that union membership can bring them.”
BRG operates 45 miles of line at the Port of Brownsville, Texas, and interchanges with Union Pacific and KCSM. BRG traffic includes steel, agricultural products, food products and general commodities.
The BRG commenced operations in 1984 when the Brownsville Navigation District (BND) reclaimed Port railroad operations from the Missouri Pacific Railroad. The BND, which manages the Port of Brownsville, entered a 30-year agreement with OmniTRAX to operate and expand the business development capabilities of the Brownsville & Rio Grande International Railway on its behalf in June of 2014.
“I would like to thank SMART TD Organizer Larry Grutzius for all of his hard work on this campaign,” Ross said.

Brega Transportation

Bus Vice President Calvin Studivant reports that 120 bus operators and bus aides employed by Brega Transportation voted for SMART TD representation June 16.
“I would like to thank SMART TD Director of Organizing Rich Ross for providing the necessary resources to make this a successful campaign. I would also like to thank New York State Legislative Director Sam Nasca and GCA VCN General Chairperson Thomas Bruce for their tireless effort in seeing this to fruition,” Studivant said.
“There was a lot of pushback from the carrier, but SMART TD stayed on message and that effort reflected in the voting. We are looking forward to securing our new bus members a far and equitable collective bargaining agreement,” Studivant added.
Brega Transport’s Yellow Bus division provides professional school bus service throughout Rockland County, N.Y.

bus2In an article published Dec. 27, The Advocate speculates whether or not school buses would be safer with seat belts.

Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that school buses could be safer with the addition of safety belts. The agency has long-maintained that safety belts in school buses are unnecessary.

In their story, The Advocate explores the pros and cons of having safety belts on school buses.

Read more from The Advocate here.


Over the next few weeks, nearly 50 million children will head back to school; more than 20 million of those students, including my daughter, will ride on a school bus.

When I talk about how to safely transport children to and from school, and more specifically about school bus safety, one of the first questions I am asked is “Why aren’t school buses required to have seat belts?” The answer isn’t simple, but I’ll explore it below.

First, let me convey something that is simple: school buses, with or without seat belts, are the safest way to go to and from school! Your child is safer riding in a school bus, even without seat belts, than any other way to get to school, including your own car.

Every year, more than 30,000 people are killed on the nation’s roadways. In fact, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for school-age children. Each year approximately 800 school-age children are killed in motor vehicle crashes during normal school travel hours (September 1 through June 15, Monday through Friday, 6:00 a.m. to 8:59 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 4:59 p.m.) The numbers are worst for teenagers driving themselves to and from school, who are at the highest risk of injury or fatality. The risk for teen drivers is about eight times higher than the risk for teens driven by adults.

Which children are safest? The ones on the school buses. Of those 800 school-age children killed in motor vehicle crashes per year, only 20 – or 2 percent – were school-bus related. Five were passengers on a school bus, and 15 were pedestrians approaching or leaving the bus. The other 98 percent were children riding bicycles or motorcycles, or riding in or struck by passenger vehicles. School buses have the lowest injury and fatality rates of all motor vehicles.

I understand why I am so often asked the question about school buses and seat belts. It’s natural for us, as parents, to question what appears to be a glaring safety gap. We are taught from the moment we bring our children home from the hospital that we need to have them properly restrained in a child safety seat, and a booster seat as they grow older, and we constantly hear the message that all of us need to be buckled up on every trip.

The answer regarding school buses is that the regulators and manufacturers have pursued a holistic total protection approach, rather than just focusing on seat belts. To understand how this came to be, some history about school bus safety might be helpful.

Back in 1977, school buses were redesigned because they weren’t protecting students as well as they should. As for the protection that we normally associate with seat belts, regulations called for a design that was known as “compartmentalization” because seat belts were not widely worn in 1977. Compartmentalization requires closely spaced, energy-absorbing, high-backed, padded seats which absorb crash forces and provide the protection needed during a front or rear-impact crash. And, as the statistics show, compartmentalization works in those types of crashes. Experience has shown that seat belts are an important complement to compartmentalization in side impact and rollover crashes, but experience has also shown that side impact and rollover crashes are very rare.

Other new rules were passed as well. Some of these rules required a stronger roof to protect students in a rollover and a stronger structure to ensure safety during the most severe crashes. Others focused on the stop-arms, the bright (yellow) color, the exterior lights, and the rules for other motorists driving near the bus. The fact that students sit high above the ground in a school bus is also an added safety benefit.

Given the success of this holistic approach in school buses, we have not recommended seat belts, but we have pushed for continuing to explore more holistic remedies to protect the students. Taken together, school buses are now required to meet more federal regulations than any other vehicle on the road.

Remember, with or without seat belts, children and teenagers are safest riding to and from school in the school bus.

Have your child ride the school bus and know that they are going to and from school in the safest way possible.

LARIMORE, N.D. – A school bus failed to yield to railroad crossing and stop signs and collided with an empty freight train Monday in North Dakota, killing the bus driver and a 17-year-old student and injuring 12 other people, the Highway Patrol said.

The accident happened at 3:39 p.m. Monday on a gravel road about 5 miles east of Larimore in the northeastern part of the state, about 100 miles north of Fargo. The bus was from the Larimore Public School District, authorities said.

Read the complete story at ABC Action News.

bus2Two young girls and one female adult aide were killed and 27 others were injured Tuesday after two Knox County school buses collided on Asheville Highway in East Knoxville.

The wreck, which flipped one bus onto its side, happened near Governor John Sevier Highway just before 3 p.m.

Read the complete story at Television Station WBIR.

bus2The results of a new survey by Fleetmatics Group PLC show that parents would like more visibility into their children’s safety aboard the school bus, as well as more accountability for operators. Nearly nine in 10 parents responded they want to see closer GPS monitoring of buses and their drivers.

Fleetmatics Group, a global provider of mobile workforce solutions, requested the study to raise awareness of school bus safety during National School Bus Safety Week, from Oct. 20 through 24.

Read the complete story at School Transportation News.

AFL-CIO logoWASHINGTON – The threat of unscrupulous school bus contractors transporting our nation’s students and the working conditions of drivers are among the topics featured at today’s school bus summit hosted by the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO.

“During this summit we will drill down on the challenges faced by school bus drivers in a fast-changing industry that we believe needs greater scrutiny from federal and state regulators,” said TTD President Edward Wytkind. “To push this dialogue forward we will discuss reforms and better practices needed to protect the 25 million students our members transport daily. We are especially pleased that Anne Ferro, Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), will join us.”

The summit, TTD’s second gathering of this kind in three years, will bring together national and local bus union leaders and activists, experts and federal regulators.

“We are grateful for the dedicated men and women who drive our kids to and from school and extracurricular events safely every day,” said Wytkind. “But we owe them more than our thanks – we must address their working conditions, improve oversight of private contractors and make sure we are providing them the support they need to maintain the highest safety standards possible.”

“We at FMCSA share a deep commitment to high safety standards for school bus drivers who keep our most precious cargo – our children – safe as they travel to and from school,” said Administrator Ferro. “It’s critical that everyone works together to make our highways and roads continually safer, and for the public do its part by driving safely in the vicinity of school buses.”

The agenda for today’s second summit will address four core issues:

  • Privatization: Unscrupulous private contractors often cut all the wrong corners, which undermines workers’ wages and benefits and subjects school children to substandard, poorly regulated school bus operations.
  • Driver Training to Keep Buses Safe: From intruders who try to board buses to students bullying each other, violence can erupt on buses. Drivers, who face physical attacks, need to be trained to respond to these situations while maintaining safe operation of their vehicles.
  • Bus Capacity: When drivers transport more students than a bus can reasonably fit, cramped space can jeopardize student safety if an accident or behavior outburst occurs.
  • Sleep Apnea: Any future regulations that create additional employment requirements must treat school drivers fairly.

“We will leave this summit with a better understanding of the challenges faced by America’s school bus drivers and their passengers and with a renewed commitment and strategy to make these operations safer,” Wytkind said. 

bus2A bill in the New York Legislature is proposing that ignition interlocks be placed on all school buses. The ignition interlock would detect alcohol on the driver’s breath and would refuse to start up if alcohol is detected.

This bill was prompted by several accidents involving intoxicated bus drivers in N.Y. within the past year. One intoxicated driver ran his bus with kids aboard into a house.

“Parents entrust their children’s lives and safety to school bus drivers,” said Senator Charles Fuschillo. “They have every right to expect and demand that the bus driver is sober.”

If passed, the new law will go into effect in 2015.

SAN ANTONIO – A bill giving school bus drivers in Texas the power to discipline students by sending them to the principal’s office has passed in the Texas Senate.

Although the bill passed the Senate, it still has to pass in the House before it can become law. The Public Education Committee is reviewing the companion House bill.

Civil penalties for school bus firms operating unsafe equipment have been increased, effective Dec. 27, by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The regulation applies to all schools or school systems who own or operate school buses. All school buses, whether in interstate or intrastate operation, must meet the federal standards.

The new maximum civil penalty for penalty for each violation involving school buses or school bus equipment is $11,000. The new maximum penalty for a series of such violations is in excess of $17 million.

To read the new rule, click on the following link: