Brothers and sisters,

We’re building something great here.

In May 2019, months before I took office, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) under Donald Trump appointee Ron Batory tried to toss out more than two decades of our members’ and officers’ work to preserve two-person freight crews.

Just days after my administration took office in October, the big rail carriers sued in an attempt to challenge our crew-consist agreements to further open the gates for railroads to get what they wanted — cutting workers in the cab so they could make more money at the expense of safety and common sense.

When both these challenges emerged, we rose up as one union, and we engaged.

The carriers’ lawsuit was resolved in court, and through on-property contract negotiations, our general chairpersons dug in on crew-consist matters. Since that attack in October 2019, we’ve not only preserved the current state of crew consist in the cab, but we have opened, for the first time, paid sick leave and attendance to negotiations so we can make the lives of our members better.

On April 2, United States Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and FRA Administrator Amit Bose announced a rule cementing freight train crew size in the country. As a result, carriers will need to carry a very heavy burden of proof in the future if they want the federal government to permit them to cross the line we have drawn on rail safety and crew size. Predictably, the railroads have gone to court to challenge the rule because they can’t leave well enough alone.

The final piece of our puzzle will be getting federal legislation passed to preserve the current safe level of staffing inside the cabs of the freight locomotives we operate. The Rail Safety Act of 2023 (RSA) has been long stationary in Congress. Together, we can get it moving. We will need to work for it, but we can do it. When the two-person crew rule was up for public comment, this union rallied together and created enough pressure in Washington, DC, that we could not be ignored. SMART-TD can and must do the same for the bipartisan RSA.

We also must work with equal focus to resolve the current state of danger that our bus and transit members have faced for far too long. Employers have made safety a low priority when solutions are staring the bosses right in the face. Things in Washington are moving in the right direction, but not fast enough.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) heard and heeded our comments in April when it ruled on the creation of on-property safety plans and on overall national safety plans for public transportation. Our practical solutions — protective barriers for operators, not making them deal with money matters, adding security on buses and transit, tougher punishments for attacks on the members we represent and all other bus and transit workers — can be done. There’s no rational reason for these public transit agencies not to join forces with us on protecting our members.

Most importantly, FTA’s rule states that our men and women will have seats at the table to make decisions on safety measures being taken at their respective workplaces. They will have a level playing field. Employers or managers will not be able to dominate on matters of safety, and if their bosses don’t follow through on the plans our members help form, FTA will step in and enforce them or take away their federal funding.

We in this union refuse to shy away from challenging injustice. It is an energy that we have worked to reignite and stoke the past five years. The results we’ve achieved on the two-person crew, elsewhere in the halls of power on the national and state levels, in negotiations and all around our union speak for themselves.

The same positive outcomes won’t be long in coming to enhance the safety of our bus and transit members. The FTA rule moves us forward. Together we can face all that is ahead for our organization with confidence.

In solidarity,

Jeremy R. Ferguson
President, Transportation Division

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

Unions in the United States have championed workplace safety from the beginning. In the 1870s, organized labor championed “State factory safety and health laws” — the predecessor of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) a century later. Whether it’s freight rail, bus or transit, workplace safety remains the foundation of everything we strive toward.

Our organization and labor have made tremendous headway, but as was clear over the summer, there is progress yet to be made and fights left to be won. We had two trainmen trainees killed in Maryland railyards.

We have been screaming into the megaphone to FRA, STB, NTSB, Congress, the White House, people in the media — frankly anyone else who will listen — that we will not stand for the current state of training on America’s Class I railroads. Please follow this link to read SMART-TD’s statement regarding the safety of our trainmen trainees, as well as the safety advisory we issued in hopes of directly speaking to our newly hired brothers and sisters and the conductors who mentor or train them.

It is our hope that our internal safety advisories will be a jumping-off point to inspire productive conversations. If carriers think they can get away with insufficient and unsafe training without SMART-TD opposing it, they are very much mistaken. Please take the time to read these materials.

While on the topic of safety, I want to proudly announce the formation of a new committee at SMART-TD focused on ending the epidemic of physical assault on our bus and transit membership. SMART-TD‘s Bus/Transit Assault Prevention and Safety (BTAPS) Committee was established at the SMART Leadership Conference in Washington, DC this August. It was born from the courage of Legislative Representative Christine Ivey of Local 1785 (Santa Monica, Calif.), who brought up the long-overdue idea that SMART-TD needed to form a committee to lead the charge for the transportation workers of this country — researching workable solutions to the increasing violence against on-duty members.

I agreed with the message Ivey eloquently and passionately shared and called for a vote on the formation of the committee on the spot, naming Sister Ivey as chairperson of the BTAPS Committee. It is not in this union’s DNA to sit idly by while our members’ safety and personal well-being are at risk.

Please read SMART-TD’s statement regarding the safety of our trainmen trainees, as well as the safety advisory we issued in hopes of directly speaking to our newly hired brothers and sisters and the conductors who mentor or train them

The BTAPS Committee and Chairperson Ivey have my full support and confidence as they strive for increased mandatory sentences for those who assault transit workers and craft the legislative language to protect our brothers and sisters. I thank her for her leadership on this important topic. BTAPS is looking for both bus and transit members to volunteer to serve. To be considered for an appointment to BTAPS, or if you know of someone we should be considering, please contact her at, or Dan Banks in our Cleveland office, at

On another positive note, I am happy to announce the retirement of SMART-TD Vice President Calvin Studivant, senior VP from our Bus Department. Calvin has dedicated his life to advocating for the safety, compensation and respect our bus operators and mechanics deserve. He has led the department since being elected VP in 2014. Along with VP Alvy Hughes, Studivant has led SMART-TD’s Bus Department to unparalleled success. We all wish Brother Studivant a long and happy retirement, and I thank him for all his years of dedicated service to our members.

As we wish Calvin the best, we are encouraged that he leaves our Bus Department in the capable hands of VP Hughes and James Sandoval from Local 23 in Santa Cruz, California, who has been elevated to VP. Brother Sandoval has served multiple roles in his career, and I have every confidence in his ability. The TD Board of Directors has approved General Chairperson Markeisha Haynes of Local 1785 as our new alternate vice president of the Bus Department. When sworn in, she will be the first Black woman to serve our union at this level of leadership. I am very proud to have Sister Haynes in the SMART-TD leadership team!

September marked the beginning of elections in most SMART-TD locals. Not only does this union need these leadership positions to be filled to function well, but they need to be filled with dedicated brothers and sisters willing to work to better the lives and careers of our members. This is not a top-down organization — it is supported and maintains its strength from the bottom up. The local leaders of today will spearhead the future of this organization and this movement. The first step is getting involved.

Please engage in your local and become well-informed about who is running. Make wise decisions in your leadership — these leaders have a hand in your safety and your family’s well-being.

Thank you for your continued support, and I want you all to have a great fall. Please don’t let the distractions of a new school year, football season and all the trappings take away from focusing on the safety of you and those you work with.

In Solidarity,

Jeremy R. Ferguson
President, Transportation Division

Fifty-seven SMART-TD members, officers and spouses, as well as UTUIA, RRB and TD Auxiliary, gathered for the first Solidarity Shoot in Ellerbe, N.C. earlier this month.

TD members from both North and South Carolina got together for a late summer clay shoot at DeWitt’s Sporting Clays in Ellerbe, N.C.

About 57 people participated – including President Jeremy Ferguson and Alt. National Legislative Director Jared Cassity.

North Carolina State Legislative Director Ron Ingerick organized the event and took part, as did SLD Will Ferguson from South Carolina.

General Chairperson Thomas Gholson (GO 898) and Vice General Chairperson Matthew McCrary (GO 851) as well as representatives from UTUIA, the Railroad Retirement Board, TD Auxiliary and families and spouses attended the first of what Ingerick is hoping will be an annual event for members.

“This was something to build solidarity and open communications between the local members across the two states for bus and rail,” Ingerick said. “We’re just trying to pull things back together since COVID. Hopefully it’ll be a bigger event going forward and next year we’ll have an even bigger crowd.”

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Phone: (216) 228-9400

Fax: (216) 228-0411
Department Email:

“Any time a monopoly is broken up, and competition is emphasized in the workplace, American workers win. SMART-TD stands behind today’s announcement by the Surface Transportation Board. It is a clear result of this administration’s dedication to railroad workers and workers in general over the insatiable appetite of the railroad companies to feed their bottom lines to the detriment of all else. SMART-TD, on behalf of the hardworking conductors, engineers, and yardmasters we represent, are thankful for the leadership of Martin Oberman, chair of the STB, and of the Biden administration for their courage in breaking the stranglehold the railroads have had on their customers since 1850. Our hope is that introducing the spirit of capitalism into our industry will force the railroads to run their companies more responsibly, starting with demonstrating more respect for their greatest asset, OUR MEMBERS.”

— SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson

This morning, the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB), following a unanimous vote by the board, announced a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) that represents a tidal shift in the way railroads provide service in this country. Since the golden spike was ceremonially driven in 1869, connecting this country from coast to coast with rail service, our country’s railroads have had a unique business model. This model has always hinged on the fact that if they owned the track your factory or company was adjacent to, you were locked into their services no matter the level of their pricing or the quality of that service.

In recent years, the STB has been flooded with complaints regarding the Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) era from shippers who are no longer satisfied with the results of the one-sided partnerships they have with American rail barons. These shippers have been “railroaded” into paying inflated rates for severely inadequate service. The STB has ruled numerous times that rail carriers are obligated to honor their contracts and provide regular service to our country’s most-pivotal industries.

Recently, the STB asserted its power to insist that Union Pacific (UP) service a large-scale poultry farm in California whose livestock was suffering from that carrier’s inability to consistently deliver the feed necessary to keep their animals alive. Currently, the Navajo Nation has engaged the STB in a dispute with BNSF over its inability to deliver on its contractual obligation to get coal to market produced by a subsidiary of the Nation . The idea that railroads can service who they want when they want does not mesh with their obligations to provide adequate service.

Martin Oberman, the Biden administration, and the STB today said they will no longer allow this mentality to continue. The STB is holding the railroads’ collective feet to the fire so that the supply chain for critical goods, like energy and food supplies, delivers on time.

The NPRM announced today provides three basic standards of service railroad companies must abide by. If they refuse to do so, their previously locked-in customers will have the right to contract with another railroad that will. As the press release from the STB points out, this will be a complex process of negotiating trackage rights; however, the STB shows no sign of backing down from the task.

Chairperson Martin Oberman specifically noted, “One of the principal goals of the rule is to incentivize carriers to maintain sufficient resources — specifically workforce and locomotives.”

This NPRM is open to public comments until October 23, 2023. If it is adopted as proposed, this nation’s railroads are, for the first time, forced to recognize a direct correlation between their staffing levels and their ability to retain customers. This puts these carriers in a unique position where retention of their workforce, as well as attracting new talent, will force itself to be their top priority.

SMART-TD is proud to stand with Chairman Oberman, the STB, and President Biden as they make this bold and decisive move to level the playing field and assert the ideals of capitalism into the railroad industry.

Railroad workers, heavy industry, and “mom-and-pop” shops across this country will benefit from adopting this proposed rule-making. As SMART-TD President Ferguson stated, “When monopolies are disrupted by capitalism, our country’s workers and the economy itself win, and win big.”


If you’re interested in speaking more about the union’s stance on this issue and the changes SMART-TD is calling for, 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 National Legislative Director Gregory Hynes

Greg Hynes is a fifth-generation railroader and was elected national legislative director in 2019.

Hynes served on the SMART Transportation Division National Safety Team that assists the National Transportation Safety Board with accident investigations, from 2007 – 2014.

In 2014, he was appointed to the Federal Railroad Administration’s Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC), which develops new railroad regulatory standards.

Hynes was appointed the first chairperson of the UTU Rail Safety Task Force in 2009 and served in that capacity until being elected SMART Transportation Division alternate national legislative director at the Transportation Division’s 2014 convention.

SMART Transportation Division Alternate National Legislative Director Jared Cassity

Jared Cassity was elected by his peers in 2019 and currently serves as the Alternate National Legislative Director for the SMART Transportation Division, which is comprised of approximately 125,000 active and retired members who work in a variety of different crafts in the transportation industry. These crafts include employees on every Class I railroad, Amtrak, many shortline railroads, bus and mass transit employees, and airport personnel.

In addition to his elected roles, Cassity has also been appointed as the Union’s Chief of Safety, serves as the Director for the SMART TD National Safety Team (which assists the NTSB in major rail-related accident investigations), is SMART TD’s voting member on the Federal Railroad Administration’s C3RS Steering Committee, and is the first labor member to ever be appointed to the Transportation Security Administration’s Surface Transportation Safety Advisory Committee.

Brothers and sisters,

SMART Transportation Division has seen historic successes in 2023 and at the same time, we face some unprecedented struggles. 

Since our last publication, many of our freight rail members have won major victories with new contracts including paid sick leave, increased schedule predictability, and pay increases. Two-person crew and other rail-safety legislations have been passed in statehouses around the country, and the United States Congress maintains its focus in the face of carriers’ intense opposition to take overdue action that gives our members’ safety and quality of life the credence that they deserve.

As the SMART-TD President I am also very excited to have Brother Mike Coleman as the new General President of SMART. We wished General President Sellers a very happy retirement at our board of directors meeting this past April, and I was proud to see Mike sworn in as General President at our General Executive Council meeting on May 23rd. Mike and I have had a longstanding working relationship and I am also proud to call him a friend.

On the flip side of all the positive we are experiencing, I am very troubled with the fact our bus members’ safety has never been more at risk. On May 18, a SMART-TD bus operator from Local 1715 (Charlotte, NC) was involved in a shoot-out with a disgruntled bus passenger, an incident that sent both men to the hospital with what were described as life-threatening injuries.

Less than a week later, on May 24, another SMART-TD bus operator out of Local 1608 (Chatsworth, Calif.) was stabbed multiple times in the neck and back while working his assigned route in Los Angeles.

There have been news reports of gunfire on buses, angry parents going after school bus drivers, road rage incidents. The list is extensive.

You cannot tell me that it is acceptable that on two out of every three days in this country one of our transit workers is violently assaulted.

The United States Federal Transit Administration put out a study in December 2022 entitled “Update on Transit Worker Assault Prevention and Mitigation.” This report looked at data from 2008 through 2011. In those 13 years, the FTA reports that there was an average of 241 assaults per year on transit workers throughout the country. This study itself points out that, “This data includes only the most serious events, and may significantly underestimate the total number of assaults.”

You cannot tell me that it is acceptable that on two out of every three days in this country one of our transit workers is violently assaulted. These men and women are the lifeblood of our economy, getting Americans to work and improving their quality-of-life day in and day out. They deserve to be heard and protected like the essential workers that we know they are. We’ve had two members on both sides of the country in the hospital fighting for their lives as a result of violent incidents. Last year, also in Charlotte, one of our members was killed by gunfire while on the job. 

It’s no time for a government study. It’s not time to discuss increasing next year’s safety budget. Our men and women deserve and demand immediate and definitive actions to ensure their physical safety. The FTA has requested public comments on what needs to be done to shore up safety in public transportation, and SMART-TD members can rest assured that our call to action will be heard.

On another positive note, our general chairpersons on multiple rail carriers have a lot of momentum going into the summer. New agreements, including crew-consist guarantees, paid sick leave for multiple crafts including some yardmasters, and more firmed-up scheduling for time off have been making their way into rail crew rooms all over the country. To the GCs who have been on the front lines negotiating these quality-of-life improvements for our rail members, you have both my gratitude and support.

SMART-TD has also spent the spring and early summer delivering on the legislative front. Our skilled group of State Legislative Directors and our National Legislative Department have been producing great results in state legislatures and on the hill in Washington D.C. We are moving the needle nationally on issues of rail safety, 2PC, and others. Credit for these pivotal victories does not belong exclusively to me, or our office holders. You, the SMART-TD members, have done a remarkable job of advocating on your own behalf. We asked you to be part of this process, and we continue to be excited by your response.

To that end, I would like to personally thank each and every one of you, your friends and family members who have answered the bell and sent your messages to legislators, written letters to the editor, and have reached out to our office this year to add your voices to SMART-TD’s efforts to mold the public policy surrounding railway safety. Please continue to use the tools your union provides you to continue this push. Your continued use of the new hours-of-service reports, the safety conditions reports, and tech event reports is a key ingredient to keeping our union’s momentum and countering the carriers’ attempts to sow misinformation. 

And, as a reminder, please update your personal information via the website and app so that we can keep you informed of what’s happening in your industry and your union.

As an organization SMART-TD is only growing stronger each day with all of your dedication and we are without a doubt the best bus, rail and air union in the country. I appreciate your hard work and want you to know that your union is in the fight with you. There will always be much more that needs to be accomplished by this organization, but you can rest assured that we are doing everything that can be done to advocate for you and your family.


Jeremy R. Ferguson
President, Transportation Division

On June 2, 2023, SMART Transportation Division members represented by General Committees of Adjustment GO-898, GO-687 and GO-680, have voted to ratify their tentative agreement with Norfolk Southern and will benefit from increased wages, as well as improvements to their quality of life.

Eligible members participating in the vote approved the new contract with approximately 60% in favor of ratification.

The ratified contract provides for:

  • Additional time off and scheduled rest days;
  • 5 paid sick days with the option to convert up to 2 personal leave days to on-demand sick days;
  • Unused personal leave days can now be carried over and accumulated indefinitely, with no limitations;
  • More predictable scheduling process to use paid leave and vacation days;
  • Compensation increases beyond those already provided for via national bargaining, with shift differential pay for weekend assignments;
  • Continuous detention/held-away pay beginning after 15 hours, paid continuously until the on-duty time at the away-from-home terminal;
  • Increased away-from-home terminal meal allowances;
  • More predictable work and flexibility in time off.

General Chairpersons Tommy Gholson (GO-898), Jim Ball (GO-687), David Phillips (GO-680), Assistant General Chairpersons Andrew Evans (GO-680), Jason Roberts (GO-898) and Brian Sharkey (GO-687), along with SMART-TD Vice President Brent Leonard, negotiated the now-ratified agreement.

Following the tabulation of votes on June 2nd, General Chairperson Ball said, “This is a proud day for all of us who were involved in getting this agreement hammered out. We got our brothers and sisters more compensation, better schedules, and the dignity that comes with having paid sick days so we can take care of our families and not get our coworkers sick in the meantime.”

General Chairperson Gholson said, “These changes have been a long time coming. Our members have been screaming especially for the quality-of-life upgrades that came with this agreement, but in this industry, those improvements have to be fought for. Nothing is given. We knew that going in, and with the help of Vice President Leonard, we got our members a great deal. We want everyone involved to know that we addressed every issue we set out to address and a little more, but the fight is far from over. We have momentum, and we aren’t done advocating for the front-line workers of Norfolk Southern.”

For his part in this win, GC David Phillips said, “This agreement is historic not only for what it brings to the table for the train service crafts, but it also raised the bar to the degree that engineers will see the quality-of-life enhancements negotiated by SMART-TD. The language we worked on for five months set a pattern and a high bar that required the carrier to extend those enhancements
to other crafts. As such, every member of our crew rooms are able to benefit from the fortitude of SMART-TD.

“I have worked as a SMART engineer, and speaking as a SMART engineer, it is very satisfying to see the hard work of SMART benefit those of us working in the Enginemen craft.”

Vice President Leonard was quick to recognize the hard work, professionalism, and experience that the NS general chairpersons brought to the bargaining table was the key to the success of this agreement. He said, “I want to start by congratulating the SMART-TD members of Norfolk Southern on the significant pay raises and quality of life improvements they just obtained. General Chairpersons Phillips, Gholson, and Ball deserve ample recognition for their dedication to hammering out this historic agreement. This is a big win for those General Committees and the members they represent.”

SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson’s reaction to the ratification announcement was, “The rail industry has always been built on the backs of conductors and trainmen. Our NS members and their elected representatives have stood up for themselves and demanded to be compensated both financially and with lifestyle improvements that are more in line with the importance of the work they do. I am excited to see these well-earned victories with sick days and schedule flexibility, and I am hopeful that this win for our NS brothers and sisters leads the way towards similar improvements across the industry.”

Brothers and Sisters,

On this Memorial Day, let us reflect on and honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while in service to our great nation. Their willingness to voluntarily face hardships where others cannot or will not is a testament to their character. We would not be the country we are today or enjoy the freedoms we have without these men and women.

Members of SMART-TD visit the grave of Troy J. Jordan, who was killed in a railroad accident in September 2015.

As a veteran of the U.S. Army, I view this holiday with great reverence and respect. SMART-TD would like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to members of the military, and their supporting affiliates — those on active duty, those who have retired and those who are no longer with us.

Their sacrifices must not go unnoticed nor be forgotten.

As we all celebrate this Memorial Day, please take a moment to reflect on the holiday’s true meaning. Keep their memories and teachings close to you always and be thankful for those who continue to endure these duties today.

As a reminder, our union has many resources for veterans available — please see the links below. As we continue into June, which is PTSD awareness month (National PTSD Awareness Day is Tuesday, June 27), be sure to take care of yourselves and seek out help or support if you need it. More information about PTSD and treatment options are available here.

Thank you, God bless, and stay safe!


Thank you, God bless, and stay safe!


Jeremy R. Ferguson

President, Transportation Division


More about Memorial Day

SMART-TD Veteran Services page

Update your military status via the Member Portal

If you are suffering from PTSD and think you may hurt yourself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 to reach a trained counselor. Use that same number and press 1 to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.

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.

Brothers and sisters,

I wanted to open this column by expressing my continued admiration to the dedication and drive all members of the SMART Transportation Division have shown in the face of adversity.

As an example, our bus members in Santa Cruz out of Local 23 have coped with weather challenges posed by massive flooding in the area and helped to evacuate people to safety. Elsewhere on the West Coast, the Midwest and in the Northeast, we’ve dealt with our share of storms that make our work more difficult and stressful for bus operators, transit workers, passenger rail, air and freight rail workers.

I want to thank you for showing up. You do the work that others are unwilling or cannot do, and that keeps this country moving. You are appreciated, and when I travel to your area, I will tell you that in person.

A special congratulations goes out to the members of Local 1715 in Charlotte who ratified a new contract by a near-unanimous margin that secures a significant wage increase and other positive gains. Thank you, General Chairperson Joseph Paglia, Vice General Chairperson and Local President Christy Kiser, Local Chairperson Stanley Valentine, Secretary & Treasurer Chris Johnson, Local Committee of Adjustment Secretary Sabrina White and Bus Department Vice President Calvin Studivant for getting such a positive result!

Congratulations also go out to the Ohio State Legislative Board and State Legislative Director Clyde Whitaker, who made Ohio the ninth state to require a minimum two-person freight rail crew. His poise and truthful testimony in March before the U.S. Senate served as a great example for all of labor. He did a fine job.

You do the work that others are unwilling or cannot do, and that keeps this country moving. You are appreciated, and when I travel to your area, I will tell you that in person.

While we’ve each dealt with our own adversity over the past months, the people of East Palestine, Ohio, have dealt with a unique set of challenges. Thanks to a situation that they had no role in creating, the greed of Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) came to an ugly head in the southeastern Ohio town.

The headlines and situation following the derailment there in early February are all too familiar, and each subsequent derailment in the months since has made headlines. People in East Palestine have been left with many questions. As the NTSB is thoroughly investigating the derailment to answer the question of “How” this scenario came to pass, we all know the answer to “Why?” PSR and its disregard for safety placed a higher value on getting Norfolk Southern’s train across the road than it did on safeguarding the communities it travelled through or the wellbeing of the crew on it.

The results have been splashed all over your televisions and news feeds. As we pray for the victims and hope that claims made by the carrier, EPA and local officials are true that the people of East Palestine are not in danger, we all owe it to those people to prevent that scene from playing out again and again and again.

Drone footage, doorbell cameras and interviews of the people directly affected have emphasized the points SMART-TD has been making for years about the destructive potential of PSR. With the national attention that has been generated by derailments, it is imperative that we disseminate the facts as we know them and continue to repudiate the role corporate greed plays in the rail industry, making community and worker alike less safe.

It is imperative that we harness this momentum to bring about some good from these disasters. Many states have seen progress on crew-size and train-length bills as the national discussion continues to examine rail safety. It is important that as our families, friends and neighbors come to us as industry experts, we are open and honest about the root cause. We need to stand together and to deliver the truth about the carriers’ conduct and what it has done to jeopardize our personal safety as well as the safety of every city and village we roll through.

As you are all aware, this past quarter has been one of much activity for SMART-TD. I want to take this opportunity to personally thank you for your continued professionalism, and I want to assure you that SMART-TD is engaged in every aspect of what is happening on both national and local levels. We are a party to the investigations into all of the recent derailments, as well as the wave of rail safety legislation that is getting headlines. We stand committed to making your voices heard in the halls of Congress as well as the backrooms of the nation’s rail carriers.

In freight negotiations, Luke Edington and his fellow officers at GC-953, as well as Rick Lee and his officers at GO-049 have leveraged gains on their respective properties into tentative agreements before the membership. GC-953’s agreement preserves the conductor position on Union Pacific and the carrier has withdrawn its nomadic “expediter” plan. GO-049 has achieved for the first time the chance for paid sick leave among T&E employees. I applaud their diligence in working to get these tentative agreements before our members and look forward to seeing other carriers follow suit in crafting similar on-property contracts.

Please continue to keep yourself safe and watch out for your brothers and sisters in your crew base. We will be remembered not for our career accomplishments but for how well we serve as one another’s keeper in trying times like the present.


Jeremy R. Ferguson
President, Transportation Division