In this country, Memorial Day is a time when we remember service members who have passed on before us, then gather with friends and family around a barbecue grill and focus on what is important in our lives.

Brother Devan Harris of SMART-TD Local 1594 was killed on Memorial Day, May 27, 2024, in a drive-by shooting in Philadelphia.

SMART-TD Local 1594 member and SEPTA bus operator Devan Harris and his family were doing just that when their world was forever shattered last week.

At a cookout in Philadelphia, Brother Harris and his girlfriend were enjoying their day with their daughter, Luna, when Devan killed in the senseless violence of a drive-by shooting.

Devan and his girlfriend, Constance Johnson-Walker, both are members of Local 1594. Together they were building a life for their 2-year-old daughter, Luna. As their SEPTA coworkers know, Devan was a dedicated father and the kind of union brother we grew to count on.

Brother Harris’s young family is counting on us. If you are able, please donate to the GoFundMe account SMART-TD established for Constance and Luna.

Our union sister needs the support of the SMART-TD family in her time of need.

Local 1594: Our brothers and sisters working on the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) recently won a new level of job security.

SEPTA is the only property where SMART-TD members operate commuter rail, bus, and trollies. These three classifications have different job duties, each with unique challenges. Unfortunately, our men and women working for SEPTA could be reassigned to any of the three crafts without a say in the matter.

If they didn’t pass the tests after being trained for a new job, the employee got fired. Even if you were a great employee for two years in the bus department, if you didn’t pass the exam after training to operate rail or a trolley, you got let go.  

There is no justice in this practice. Until now, General Chairperson Anthony Petty of Local 1594, which represents our SEPTA members, set out to change this.

GC Petty and Bus Department Vice President James Sandoval were aware that the contract was not under negotiation, but they were determined to change the policy. They refused to let this problem fester until the following contract was hashed out, and neither wanted to tie the outcome of this request to the conditions of a larger negotiation.

They took the fight directly to SEPTA as a stand-alone issue and got the win they were after! SEPTA sent GC Petty a formal side letter on March 18 informing him that language had been added to Local 1594’s contract stating that any employee outside of their initial training who “fails the rail portion of training will be permitted to transfer to bus operations.”

This might sound minor, but this is a victory for our Bus Department that will directly preserve our men and women’s careers. Our SEPTA bus operators now have a safety net ready to catch them when their boss orders them to learn how to be railroaders in the middle of their careers as bus operators. Now there’s a safety net courtesy of Brothers Sandoval, Petty and the amazing team at Local 1594.

SMART-TD honors the work, creativity, and persistence demonstrated by our officers in solving this problem for their fellow members. If your manager introduces a policy that seems unjust or threatens the security of your livelihood contact your local union officers. Together we can reverse unfair decisions and defend your right to a just and secure workplace.

Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, has been known for being anything but loving when it comes to wage increases and quality of life benefits for its transportation professionals. First-year General Chairperson Anthony Petty of SMART-TD’s SPT General Committee announced the ratification by membership of a new one-year agreement that changes that for the better.

The agreement ratified includes both a 7% raise in base pay and a $3,000 bonus for our SMART-TD members working to provide SEPTA’s bus service. Petty and his general committee also brokered a deal increasing the carrier’s contribution to employee retirement funds by 5% in addition to the 7% raise in pay.

Not only will these members be receiving these financial benefits, but Petty and his committee of Bruce Cheatham, Wayne Vincent and Jeaneen Hand, along with new Bus Department’ Vice President James Sandoval, also negotiated for substantial gains in time off and quality-of-life for their brothers and sisters.

Standard practice at SEPTA for the past two decades has been that our members have worked six days a week at all times. In this new agreement, members will only be drafted (forced to work a sixth day in the week) once per month. They can take two days off per week for the remainder of the month. If they elect to do so, they will be allowed to volunteer to work a sixth day whenever they want, but the power to decide is now in the hands of each individual member.

Yet another quality-of-life improvement in this contract is that the extra board will now be divided into an a.m. list and a p.m. list so our members are only responsible for covering the work for 12 hours each day. They won’t be expected to cover shifts outside of their coverage times. For the first time at SEPTA, employees on the extra list will have a far better understanding of when they can expect to go to work. This will go a long way towards helping to balance work and homelife for our men and women and create some consistency for them.

In another new and creative addition to the agreement, Petty and his team got SEPTA to agree to a unique dialogue centering around the ongoing problem with assaults against our members. On December 19, SEPTA’s General Manager Leslie Richards will attend a town hall meeting held by union leaders to discuss the rise in violence our members deal with on the job.

As part of the agreement, SEPTA management will meet quarterly in an open forum with the union to discuss the scenario surrounding every assault that has taken place on SEPTA property since the prior meeting and to tell us what steps SEPTA will take to prevent similar incidents in the future. They will also listen to our members’ ideas on assault reduction and take questions from attendees.

This agreement is the product of aggressive and creative thinking on behalf of Petty, Sandoval and the General Committee.

Petty said that his team’s cohesion made the difference in getting the job done and done quickly at the bargaining table in the six months negotiations with the carrier were open.

“My committee of Vice Chair Wayne Benson, Jeaneen Hand and Bruce Cheatham along with SMART-TD Vice President James Sandoval had put so much work in on this before negotiations started that once it got going, they could sense our confidence,” he said. “They could see we were all on the same page. We were prepared to justify everything we asked for and they knew it. All in all, the negotiation only took four days.

“They knew we weren’t backing down, and in the end, we are proud of the agreement we brought back to our membership. I want to thank Vice President Sandoval. James has been working on this agreement with me since the day I met him. He was with us every step of the way, and we all appreciate his commitment to getting everything we could get to better the lives of our SEPTA members.”

SMART-TD as an organization congratulates the SPT General Committee on the remarkable work done to achieve this agreement for SEPTA members.

Senior Vice President of the Bus Department, Alvy Hughes pointed out that this was the first agreement negotiated by GC Petty and for VP Sandoval in his new role as a SMART-TD vice president.

Hughes wants all members of SMART to know that they did a great job, and that he is very proud of the effort they put in and what they accomplished for our men and women.

Phone: (216) 228-9400 

Fax: (216) 228-0411  


The results of a strike vote authorized in October by SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy Ferguson on the Southeastern Philadelphia Transportation Authority (SEPTA) were finalized yesterday, Nov. 20. SMART-TD members of Local 61 (GCA-STA) in Philadelphia overwhelmingly voted to authorize a potential work action.  

This announcement comes after 19 months of contentious negotiations and mediation led by the National Mediation Board with the carrier.   

General Chairperson Ray Boyer expressed disappointment with what he described as SEPTA’s bad-faith negotiating. 

“SEPTA has implemented a tactic called ‘pattern bargaining’ — blending aspects of the railroad and bus industries. Unfortunately, this strategy has disproportionately affected conductors, leaving us significantly behind our industry peers in terms of compensation,” he said. “In essence, SEPTA is demanding a front-row effort from conductors while offering nosebleed pay. We believe that fair compensation is not just about wages but also about acknowledging the essential role we play in the efficient functioning of SEPTA.”  

SMART-TD President Ferguson said that after workers served through a pandemic while receiving wages that trail other regional transit peers that the carrier needs to rethink its approach.  

“We have been clear with SEPTA from Day 1 that our men and women are the lowest-paid workforce in the commuter industry and that this negotiation was NOT going to be status quo,” he said. “They continue to stand behind a smoke screen of fancy language their lawyers put together — mixing crafts when it is convenient and clarifying our members are railroaders when it is to their advantage.  

“This union is not a business-as-usual organization. Our members spoke loud and clear in their vote. Everyone is scheduled to come back to negotiations late next month, and SEPTA would be wise to recognize the leverage these men and women of Local 61 have authorized. We will not settle for anything less than the respect our members have earned.” 

TD Vice President Jamie Modesitt stated that SEPTA rail workers have spoken as a collective voice and SEPTA’s Board should be listening to that voice. 

“The collective voice has spoken, and that voice seeks to correct the wage suppression that has been largely ignored over the years. It’s time for SEPTA’s board to correct the wage injustice that has plagued their rail labor force. Ultimately, correcting the wage disparity at SEPTA, by investing in labor, will increase employee morale, establish greater retention of good talent, better recruitment opportunities, and reward the commitment of the hard-working SEPTA men and women who serve the public every day of the week.” 

General Chairperson Boyer will work closely with President Ferguson and Vice President Modesitt as this situation develops. SMART-TD will ensure our members and the press are kept up to date as we move ahead. 

The union represents 481 members on SEPTA properties.  


If you are interested in speaking more about the union’s stance on this issue and its negotiations with management on the SEPTA property, we’d be happy to connect you with:  

SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy Ferguson   

President Jeremy Ferguson, a member of Local 313 in Grand Rapids, Mich., was elected president of SMART’s Transportation Division in 2019.   

President Ferguson, an Army veteran, started railroading in 1994 as a conductor on CSX at Grand Rapids, Mich., and was promoted to engineer in 1995. Ferguson headed the recent national rail negotiations for the Union with the nation’s rail carriers.  

SMART Transportation Division Vice President Jamie Modesitt  

Vice President Jamie C. Modesitt is a member of Local 298, Garrett, IN, was elected to Vice President in 2019, and resides in Saint Augustine, FL. Modesitt serves on the SMART TD National Negotiation Team and serves as a SMART TD Board Member on the National Railroad Adjustment Board’s First Division. 

“Our General Chairperson for the SEPTA property, Ray Boyer, served Section 6 Notices on SEPTA well over a year ago. SEPTA management knows full well that SMART-TD’s members are the backbone of the greater Philadelphia area. Our members operate heavy rail, buses, light rail, and trolleys that keep this city moving. They do so in all kinds of weather and through the pandemic, all while assault rates on transit workers are going through the roof. At minimum, SEPTA management should show labor the respect it deserves and negotiate in good faith. Instead, SEPTA refuses to adjust its initial proposals or acknowledge the various packages proposed by SMART-TD. With that, I have authorized a strike vote for our SEPTA passenger service members.” 

SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson

October 23, 2023 

Phone: (216) 228-9400

Fax: (216) 228-0411 


This morning, SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson authorized a strike vote on the Southeastern Philadelphia Transportation Authority (SEPTA). For SMART-TD, this announcement comes after 18 months of contentious negotiations and mediation led by the National Mediation Board.  

General Chairperson Ray Boyer, expressed his disappointment with SEPTA’s bad-faith negotiating: 

“We have proposed several packages to settle this round of bargaining, and SEPTA has not moved one inch from their initial position. Even through mediation, SEPTA refuses to bargain by completely ignoring inflation and labor’s part in keeping the service fluid during the pandemic. CEO Leslie Richards was provided with a four-year contract in May 2023 that included a $75,000 wage increase, bringing her total compensation to $425,000. SEPTA’s board approved her raise after a comprehensive review of compensation for leaders in comparable transit systems. In other words, the board applied a prevailing-wage concept to determine her compensation. SEPTA is completely ignoring the same prevailing-wage concept when it comes to labor, which is hypocrisy. It’s a clear picture of management’s value of its labor force, and SMART-TD is not going to tolerate our voices being ignored any longer. A strike vote must be presented to the members to prepare for further action.” 

TD Vice President Jamie Modesitt stated that SEPTA wages need to be increased to reflect the prevailing wage of the industry and that SEPTA is conveying a “take it, or else” attitude during the bargaining round.

“SEPTA’s passenger rail wages have been deteriorated over the years by SEPTA’s success in convincing Presidential Emergency Boards to withhold general wage increases during the bargaining period and eliminate retroactive wages. This is significant because it has permitted SEPTA to avoid labor wage increases for almost two years during certain bargaining cycles,” Modesitt said. “A 0% wage increase, logically, does not compound, and that has caused SEPTA wages over the past years to drop below the prevailing wage for the passenger rail industry. It is obvious to me that SEPTA hopes to repeat its attack on wages because they have made it clear to us that the PEB is their goal.

“Anyone can review the list of Presidential Emergency Boards and see SEPTA seems to end up there almost every round of bargaining. In short, SEPTA has presented a ‘take it, or else,’ attitude. Even so, SEPTA’s attitude towards labor will eventually cost them greatly when employee wages fall so far below the prevailing wage that employee retention and hiring will come to a standstill. What’s more, the taxpayer will ultimately bear the consequence of SEPTA’s greed when the wages have to be significantly increased to keep commuter trains fully staffed. That’s why this issue has to be corrected in this bargaining round. Make no mistake, SMART TD will utilize every legal resource to aggressively fight this injustice for our members who have sacrificed so much for SEPTA and their communities. This strike vote is the first step of action for our members.” 

As of 10 a.m. local time Oct. 23, voting will be open for SMART-TD members to voice their opinion on whether or not to authorize President Ferguson to call for a work action. This vote will be conducted online through a secure survey service. General Chairperson Ray Boyer of GCA-STA, SMART-TD Local 61 (Philadelphia), will be disseminating information on how to access the voting portal to membership today.   

SMART-TD represents 481 members on SEPTA properties. Results of the strike vote will be announced Nov. 20, 2023, at 2 p.m. local time.  


If you are interested in speaking more about the union’s stance on this issue and its negotiations with management on the SEPTA property, we’d be happy to connect you with: 

SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy Ferguson  

President Jeremy Ferguson, a member of Local 313 in Grand Rapids, Mich., was elected president of SMART’s Transportation Division in 2019.  

President Ferguson, an Army veteran, started railroading in 1994 as a conductor on CSX at Grand Rapids, Mich., and was promoted to engineer in 1995. Ferguson headed the recent national rail negotiations for the Union with the nation’s rail carriers. 

SMART Transportation Division Vice President Jamie Modesitt 

Modesitt has served as general chairperson on one of the largest rail general committees in the country representing thousands of members consisting of conductors, trainmen, yardmen, passenger conductors, passenger assistant conductors, hostlers, engineer trainees, engineers, trackmen, signalmen, carmen, machinists and locomotive electricians. Modesitt is considered an expert when it comes to Railway Labor Act (RLA) arbitration with experience in well over a thousand cases consisting of discipline cases and agreement rules and was elected vice president in 2019.

Local #1594 in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, represents roughly 300 SMART-TD members working for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) in bus service, commuter rail, and trolley service. The size of this local and the diversity in its crafts makes it a unique local with opportunities and challenges that cannot be addressed with cookie-cutter solutions.

Recently, a handful of our brothers and sisters in Local 1594 have reached out to the International with questions that touched on a variety of complicated issues. Without delay, SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson decided to head to Pennsylvania to have an open dialogue with the members of 1594, with the intention of resolving the issues and making sure that our Philly members and the International office are on the same page.

President Ferguson assembled his team of Bus Department Vice President Alvey Hughes, Assistant General Counsel Shawn McKinley, and Senior Assistant to the President Ralph Leichliter. On Tuesday, April 25, this leadership group arrived in Upper Darby, attending two local meetings with Local #1594 in an effort to provide information and hear the facts on the ground.

Both meetings were extremely productive. In total, roughly 40 members attended to participate in the discussions, and both the membership and leadership team came away with a better sense of mutual understanding of how SMART-TD can best move forward in our dealings with SEPTA. Ferguson said for his part in these meetings, “I want to thank Local 1594’s leadership and their General Committee Chair Anthony Petty for hosting my team and facilitating these important discussions. We cannot expect to make progress as a labor organization without open lines of communication. I feel that as far as the International office is concerned, we are happy with the progress made in these two meetings in Upper Darby. We have a clearer understanding of what they need from us as officers, and I’d like to think they now have a better understanding of what needs to be done on their end as well.”

If any members of Local 1594 have follow-up questions about what was discussed at last week’s meetings, SMART-TD would like to encourage them to reach out to our office. Please contact our office at (216) 228-9408 and use extension #1 to reach the President’s Department.

The SMART Transportation Division was among the 36 signatories in a letter sent Aug. 4 calling on leaders in Congress to provide $36 billion in emergency aid to public transportation agencies as the economy continues to be staggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The letter delivered a stark warning to lawmakers: without at least $32 billion in emergency funding, transit systems in both urban and rural areas face irreversible harm. In the letter, the organizations explained that physical distancing measures, including stay-at-home orders, have taken a serious toll on demand for public transportation services. This, in turn, has placed a major strain on funding sources public transportation agencies traditionally rely on, including farebox revenue and sales tax receipts.
The text of the letter appears below:
Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy, and Leader Schumer:
On behalf of the millions of Americans who rely on public transportation every day, the 435,000 frontline workers who operate and maintain those systems, and the public transportation agencies that serve communities across America, we urge you to include at least $32 billion in funding for public transportation in the next COVID-19 emergency response bill.
As you know, physical distancing measures, including stay-at-home orders, have taken a serious toll on overall demand for public transportation services. This has placed a major strain on the revenue sources public transportation agencies count on for continued operations, including farebox revenue and sales taxes. Nonetheless, throughout this crisis, millions of Americans have continued to depend on reliable and safe public transportation to get to and from work and for other essential services.
Without robust public transit systems in our urban and rural communities alike, the national economy will not be able to recover. As recently reported in The New York Times, some public transit systems are in danger of heading into a “transit death spiral” where evaporating revenues lead to cuts in services, which in turn cause riders to find alternative means of transportation if they can, further incapacitating transit systems to the point where they become insolvent and inoperable. Communities and transit agencies of all sizes are hurting, and critical emergency funding must be made available immediately to avoid a worsening crisis.
Millions of essential workers bravely fighting on the front lines of this pandemic have no other means of transportation. Healthcare, grocery, and other workers will be put at risk of losing their jobs and livelihoods. And families who rely on transit for transportation to pick up food, get to work, and meet their health care needs will be left stranded. Likewise, Americans who depend on paratransit service and Medicaid recipients who receive medical transportation for critical care services will lose their only transportation lifeline. Seniors, communities of color, and other groups who disproportionately rely on transit will be particularly hard-hit, further weakening our country at the worst possible time.
Unfortunately, if Congress does not provide the necessary funding for public transportation in the immediate future, the traveling public will suffer. Allowing vital transportation services to lapse in the middle of a global pandemic will guarantee more harm to our communities and place the economic well-being of the American public in jeopardy.
Our communities across the country are depending on you to act swiftly and decisively to save public transit. This will require an immediate investment of at least $32 billion in our transit systems. We urge you to include this funding in the next aid package.


Amalgamated Transit Union
Active Transit Alliance (Chicago, IL)
American Public Transportation Association
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
Better Bus Coalition (Cincinnati, OH)
Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen
Central Ohio Transit Authority (Columbus, OH)
Center for Disability Rights (Rochester, NY / Washington, DC)
Central Maryland Transportation Alliance
Chicago Transit Authority (Chicago, IL)
Circulate San Diego
Coalition for Smarter Growth (Washington, DC)
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers – Transportation Division (SMART-TD)
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Investing in Place (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) (Los Angeles, CA)
Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Houston, Texas)
Metropolitan Transportation Authority (New York, NY)
National Conference of Firemen & Oilers, SEIU
Pittsburghers for Public Transit
Riders Alliance (New York, NY)
San Francisco Transit Riders
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)
Sound Transit (Seattle, WA)
The Street Trust (Portland, OR)
Transit Forward Philadelphia
Transit Matters (Boston, MA)
Transportation for America
Transportation Communications Union/IAM
Transport Workers Union
Tri-State Transportation Campaign (NY, NJ, CT)
Transportation Choices Coalition (Seattle, WA)
Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Washington, D.C.)

A PDF version of the letter also is available.

SMART Transportation Division Local 61 (Philadelphia, Pa.) has experienced the loss of a second member from the novel coronavirus.

Brother Stephen McFadden, 51, of Philadelphia, and a SEPTA conductor, died April 30 from COVID-19. He had been a member of the union since September 1991.
“I saw him at every union meeting we had – and sometimes he was the only person there,” said Bernard Norwood, general chairperson of GO-STA. “Stephen was very committed to the union. He was a really nice guy.”
Using money out of his own pocket, Brother McFadden donated to the local’s annual holiday party without fail, Norwood said.
McFadden was a very passionate Phillies fan – sometimes catching part of the game during the down time he had during a shift and filling in his union brothers and sisters on what was going on – and making sure the game was on the TV in the crew room. He also was a very particular lottery player, schooling people to scratch from the bottom up and letting them know the range of numbers they should snag when considering a scratch-off ticket purchase.
Another tradition he was known for was on pay weeks – when the system processed the payroll and employees knew they were going to get their deposits, he’d greet his brothers and sisters with a cheery “Happy Wednesday!”
“That’s going to be missed a lot, especially today,” Norwood said. (He was interviewed on May 6 — a Wednesday morning.)
On April 14, McFadden’s Local 61 brother Michael A. Hill, 58, of Glassboro, N.J., died of COVID-19. Norwood says he’s received reports of 35 positive coronavirus cases and 135 SEPTA workers have been in quarantine. Seventy-two are back on the job.
Norwood said it’s been an uphill fight to get the carrier to mirror some of the sanitizing practices being adopted in New York and in New Jersey, to provide personal protective equipment and to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention measures.
“We’re still fighting for temperature checks and to get marks on the floors for social distancing,” Norwood said, although he said he’s seeing some progress.
To date, SMART-TD nationally has lost at least eight members and retirees to the pandemic, according to reports submitted to the union.

Police continue to search for two suspects in the attempted robbery of a SEPTA conductor May 10 that ended with the conductor being shot in the hip.
A $6,000 reward has been offered and video footage showing the suspects in the Carpenter Station incident has been released to the media, NBC10 in Philadelphia reports.
The victim was hospitalized after being shot in the hip, and his name was not released to the media. An officer from Local 61 (Philadelphia, Pa.) said that he is a SMART TD member.
Read the NBC 10 story and watch the video showing the suspects.

Forty-two people, including the train engineer, were injured when their SEPTA train crashed into an empty, stopped train inside the 69th Street Transportation Center in Upper Darby, Pa., shortly after midnight, Tuesday, Aug. 22.
In a statement, SEPTA said that none of the injuries appeared to be life threatening. The train was carrying 41 passengers and the train operator when the crash occurred.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has dispatched personnel to the scene to investigate the cause of the accident.
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