The year of 2023 was an unprecedented success for our union, and all should take pride in what our organization has accomplished. Win percentages on our appeals are higher now than at any time in recent memory. We fought and won the first paid sick leave for transportation employees after going without for nearly two centuries of American railroading. Our brothers and sisters on many bus and transit properties are earning better wages, benefits and time off through hard-fought and overdue agreements nationwide.
Our voices have been heard by the general public, press and in the halls of state capitols and Washington, DC. But more importantly, they are recognizing the validity of our organization’s longstanding issues and concerns. In the future, transportation employees of all types will look back at what we accomplished in 2023 as a positive turning point, and I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for making this a reality.
When I was first elected, I stated that training was going to be a center focus of my administration. We changed the format to better serve our locals, and I could not be more proud of how well it has been embraced and the results it has produced. The commitment and effort that many of our local officers have demonstrated by participating in our regional training seminars is a tribute to the level of professionalism and dedication needed in SMART-TD to strengthen the foundation on which our progress and future success is built. I applaud all of those that have not only attended one of these events, but also those who have taken and applied the knowledge and skills presented for the betterment of the members we proudly represent.
Your general committee and state board officers are engaged in the issues that affect your daily lives and are doing amazing work. They are unafraid to use their skills, knowledge, and connections to make sure our issues and concerns are heard in efforts to create real-world solutions for our members. I want to tip my hat to the effort they have all demonstrated this year. It is no exaggeration to say that the lives of our members are better today than it was in 2022. I owe a debt of gratitude to every member and officer that has assisted in making this a reality.
This union is solid, cohesive, and moving collectively in the direction of progress. All of us look to 2024 with the prospect of heightened pay, continued improvement in quality of life with additional scheduled and reliable time off and the prospect that our lives and those of our families are on the right trajectory. We are doing everything we can to make your quality of life reflect the true value of your labor.
In the coming months, the Federal Railroad Administration is scheduled to announce the results of the two-person crew hearings held in late 2022, and we look forward to hearing those results. Many of you answered the call and let your voices be heard on this pivotal issue, setting the stage for what would be a historic victory. We are looking to replicate this success as SMART-TD takes on the issue of the rising number and severity of assaults on our passenger/commuter rail and bus members. This issue directly impacts the lives of many of our members and we will not allow it to go unchecked. We must show no hesitation in leading the way on this significant issue while other, less-dynamic unions apparently remain content with the status quo.
Our members deserve more, and we will do all we can in efforts of ensuring their safety.
If 2023 has taught us anything, it is that we are the leader in U.S. transportation labor and our influence grows daily. However, all of this progress can be lost if we sit on our laurels or stop working as a collective group. It is for this reason that I personally request that you all stay invested in the fight for what’s right in 2024 as we lay it on the line to further the causes that define our careers and lives.
In closing, I wish you all a happy, safe and prosperous new year!
Jeremy R. Ferguson
President, Transportation Division