As SMART Transportation Division local elections are approaching, it is important that proper procedures are followed. In order to provide support to our locals in their election process, SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson’s staff worked with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to provide answers to questions secretary & treasurers and other local officers might have about the procedures.  

Over a 2 1/2-hour webinar Oct. 12, SMART-TD staff and two DOL representatives presented about election requirements and the DOL regulations that govern local elections to help our locals follow and apply them correctly. Representatives from roughly 40 SMART-TD locals were in attendance on the call.  

SMART-TD wants to thank the S&Ts and other local officers throughout our organization who made the effort to be part of the productive session. We would also like to thank the representatives from the DOL’s Office of Labor-Management Standards who lent their expertise. 

If you are a local officer or candidate for local office who has questions surrounding the election process, please reach out to President’s Department Administrative Assistant Ralph Leichliter at 216-227-5285 or

Former Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh (left) and Deputy Labor Secretary Julie Su.
Former Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh (left) and Deputy Labor Secretary Julie Su. No official affiliation with or endorsement from the Department of Labor. Photo Credit: Department of Labor Alyson Fligg

From trafficked garment workers to misclassified truck drivers, from future union apprentices to business owners who abide by the law, the record is clear: Current Deputy Labor Secretary Julie Su is the right choice to lead the U.S. Department of Labor. She has a proven track record of acting on working families’ behalf – not just talking the talk – dating back to her days as a human rights lawyer.

Su began her career as an attorney working for a small nonprofit called the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, where she made headlines for a groundbreaking federal lawsuit filed on behalf of 72 Thai garment workers who were forced to work 18 hours a day in sweatshop conditions in El Monte, California. The lawsuit resulted in more than $4 million in restitution for the workers; it also kickstarted Su’s career-long dedication to fighting against wage theft and worker exploitation.

“For decades Julie Su has fought tirelessly for the rights of working people, from her time as a civil rights attorney, to her tenure as California labor secretary, to her current position as United States deputy secretary of labor,” SMART General President Joseph Sellers remarked at the time of Su’s nomination for labor secretary. “No matter her title or role, Su works to ensure safer workplaces and stronger protections for all.”

Su’s time as labor commissioner and then labor secretary of California demonstrates her commitment to fighting on behalf of SMART members and workers everywhere. She worked diligently to expand apprenticeship programs for California workers who chose not to attend college, and her relentless crusade against wage theft – including California’s “Wage Theft Is a Crime” campaign – led to countless workers receiving the pay they deserve. (It also rewarded employers who follow the law by cracking down on those who would exploit their way to bigger profits.) Su also recognized the pervasive, anti-worker threat posed by misclassification, filing suits against employers who categorized workers as independent contractors and deprived them of better pay, benefits and the ability to form a union.

“Workers of all walks of life have benefited from her advocacy, particularly her fierce struggle against worker misclassification and wage theft – two issues that are rampant in the construction industry,” Sellers added.

As much as Su has focused on enforcing labor laws and holding bad-faith employers accountable, she has done just as much to expand opportunities and position the working class for a favorable future. As leader of California’s Future of Work Commission, Su spearheaded the state’s initiative to ensure workers come first in the face of future technology and policy developments. And most recently, Su worked as former Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh’s right hand in spurring record job growth, nullifying the Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs) scheme, investing in registered apprenticeships and pursuing pro-labor policies that protect workers from issues like heat exposure and create good, family-sustaining, union jobs. Her emphasis on the union apprenticeship model is one that, once she is confirmed as secretary of labor, could benefit SMART for generations.

Deputy Labor Secretary Julie Su delivers remarks after her nomination to lead the Department of Labor by President Biden.
President Joe Biden looks on as Deputy Labor Secretary Julie Su delivers remarks on her nomination as Secretary of Labor, Wednesday, March 1, 2023, in the East Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

“Registered apprenticeship is one of the innovative and time-tested superhighways in the workforce development infrastructure, particularly for communities who have been excluded from good jobs for far too long,” Su said in 2022.

With Su and Walsh at the head of the Department of Labor, the United States’ economy experienced unprecedented growth, including the addition of 12.6 million jobs and the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years. This success, as well as years of working with employers and employees alike to pursue mutual prosperity, has led to Su’s nomination being endorsed by business groups like Small Business Majority and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, as well as labor unions like SMART, North America’s Building Trades Unions, the United Mine Workers of America, the International Association of Fire Fighters, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and many more.

“She has demonstrated her willingness to stand with workers and SMART members since joining the Department of Labor, helping spearhead this administration’s focus on building an economy from the bottom up and the middle out,” Sellers concluded in his statement. “We look forward to working with her to advance the interests of our members and the working class, and we urge the Senate to swiftly confirm Julie Su as United States secretary of labor.”

The U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau appointed SMART Local 28’s Leah Rambo as deputy director of its executive team in early February. In response, SMART issued the following statement:

“The U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau does important work lifting up our sisters who strengthen our economy, our industry and our union – and promoting diversity, equity and inclusion across the trades. We celebrate the Bureau’s appointment of Leah Rambo from SMART Local 28 (New York City) as a deputy director on its executive team. As the director of training for Local 28 and a member of our SMART International Women’s Committee, Leah has worked tirelessly to recruit and retain an increasing number of women and ensure safe, quality work and training environments.

“Thanks to unprecedented investments in our infrastructure, megaprojects continue to come in across the country. We all have a responsibility to make sure women in our communities have access to the good, family-sustaining union jobs and the benefits our union and industries provide. We know Leah will be a dedicated advocate in the efforts to expand opportunities for women and their families.”

Good labor relations with elected officials can be summed up by knowing that the people who represent us in our state legislatures and Washington D.C. are familiar with our needs and concerns, and that they keep us informed on what is going on in their committee meetings and about legislation that might affect our membership.

Great labor relationships are when elected officials value our opinion and actively seek it out to help decide their votes and what legislation they write to bend the actions of government to the best interests of our membership. The latter is what is happening in Kansas under the leadership of State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo (Local 1503, Marysville, Kan).

In February of this year, Brother Dragoo was chosen to introduce Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Congresswoman Sharice Davids (D-Kans., Dist.-3) at an event discussing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (previously known as the IIJA — the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act). This was a great showcase of the role that SMART plays in the labor community of the state. What’s more important is that on October 19, Secretary Buttigieg came back to the state to hold a series of events and round table discussions about how to move forward and Brother Dragoo was brought into the thinktank to be consulted. 

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh meets Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo on Oct. 19 in Kansas.

Along with Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Secretary Buttigieg and Rep. Davids, SLD Dragoo helped form discussions surrounding the implementation of federal dollars in both Kansas and nationwide. In one of the multiple events of the day, SLD Dragoo was the only representative of the labor community at the table with the White House contingent along with a handful of contractors. Brother Dragoo’s role in these important discussions is indicative of the expanding role SMART-TD is playing in recent days when it comes to forming public policy.

When asked about the day’s events, Brother Dragoo described how refreshing it is to be treated as a contributing player of the team rather than being viewed as an opponent. He went on to say that the access that our union has been given to the Biden team is unprecedented in his 12 years as the SLD of Kansas. 

In his words, “With past administrations, labor was considered and given a spot at the table on some issues, but with the Biden administration, the meeting doesn’t happen unless labor is represented.” 

Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo, left, meets with federal Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Oct. 19 in Kansas.

The emphasis the administration has placed on labor has given SMART added clout with Congress as well. SLD Dragoo receives calls weekly from Davids to discuss upcoming votes she has and how to best represent SMART members in Kansas.

“It’s this kind of a productive relationship that allows us to create a better future for our members,” Dragoo said. 

In the past year, Kansas has seen the fruits of these relationships in the form of 26 newly funded projects for the Kansas Department of Transportation. These projects are beneficial to Transportation Division and Sheet Metal members alike.

It’s said that change is inevitable, and it’s up to you whether you merely react to that change or if you become the agent of it. SLD Dragoo and SMART-TD’s National Legislative Department have positioned themselves well to have a big hand in what is to come in Kansas as well as in the rest of the country. 

“SMART really has become the leader of labor in Kansas,” Dragoo emphasized. “With continued support from SMART members, we can create better careers and a better country for all of us.”

CLEVELAND, Ohio, (February 1, 2022) — By letter dated January 31, 2022, SMART-TD and the BLET are seeking review by both the Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Transportation of all Class I attendance policies. In a joint letter to Labor Secretary Martin Walsh and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson and BLET President Dennis Pierce ask the secretaries to immediately investigate all carrier attendance policies that refuse to provide exceptions for fatigue-related absences, as well as those that refuse to provide exceptions for illness-related absences.

Referencing the most recent “Hi-Viz” policy on BNSF set to go into effect today, the presidents said: “The new policy also potentially subjects employees to disciplinary action when they request time off because they are ill or when they need to tend to sick family members. This includes time off under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), as this policy disincentivizes employees from utilizing this protected leave by prohibiting ‘Good Attendance Credit’ from ever being gained because of its use.”

Addressing fatigue concerns, the presidents said: “The only tool these engineers and trainmen have to prepare for their unscheduled work shifts are so-called ‘train lineups,’ which are managed solely by the railroad. Moreover, BNSF has openly admitted that the quality of these lineups and the related predictability for the on-duty times is far from adequate. As a result, engineers and trainmen are routinely called for duty without having any knowledge or awareness of the potential for work (at that particular time), thus subsequently preventing them from the ability to be physically rested prior to their being called to work. For example, it is commonplace for these employees to be suddenly called into work for an evening shift when they didn’t expect to be called in until the morning according to the available train lineups. Under BNSF’s new Hi-Viz policy, even though they may be fatigued, they are not allowed to refuse the unpredicted call for duty without potentially being subjected to employer discipline, up to and including dismissal. Forcing these employees to choose between their job or their safety in the workplace is in complete contradiction to BNSF’s obligation to protect public safety and to provide a safe workplace environment.”

The presidents said the harsh policies fly in the face of railroad safety laws and government regulations. The policies also would negatively impact already-diminished workforce staffing and would contribute to an increase in the “already historic levels of mid-career resignations.”

President Ferguson and President Pierce concluded: “It is imperative that the Department of Transportation and Department of Labor act to address this most egregious railroad policy, as well as those implemented by NS, CSX, Union Pacific, and any other railroad with similar policies. The safety and health of the engineers and trainmen who are employed at BNSF, and the safety of the general public, stands in the balance.”

Read the presidents’ letter to the DOT and DOL secretaries.


The SMART Transportation Division is comprised of approximately 125,000 active and retired members of the former United Transportation Union, who work in a variety of crafts in the transportation industry.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen represents nearly 57,000 professional locomotive engineers and trainmen throughout the United States. The BLET is the founding member of the Rail Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

The confirmation by the U.S. Senate of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a member of the Laborers’ Union, to be President Joe Biden’s labor secretary ends a nearly 45-year absence of having a union member serve as the head of the U.S. Department of Labor.
The last unionist to serve as U.S. labor secretary was W.J. Usery Jr., an appointee of President Gerald Ford who was a member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. He led Ford’s DOL for about a year starting in 1976.
There had been a time when a nearly five-decade gap of having a union member be the top labor official in a president’s Cabinet would have been unusual.
When the DOL was established in the early 20th century, it was normal practice that an organized labor leader would be tapped to lead the agency overseeing labor relations. The first two U.S. secretaries of labor were union members, and in 1930, one of SMART-Transportation Division’s predecessor unions saw one of its leaders ascend to the top of the DOL during one of the darkest economic times our nation has known. As the third secretary of labor, the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen’s William N. Doak helped establish a lasting legacy.

W.H. Doak

Doak was born Dec. 12, 1882, in Wythe County, Va., and began a railroad career as a switchman with Norfolk and Western near the turn of the century. According to a biography published on the Library of Virginia’s website, he joined BRT in 1904 and was elected a general chairperson in 1908.
In 1916, Doak was elected BRT vice president and became the organization’s national legislative representative in Washington, D.C. He continued to work on railroad labor relations matters including serving on adjustment boards, arguing before congressional committees and adjusting how rail negotiations were handled on a regional level. The National Mediation Board (NMB) was established in the 1920s while Doak had an active presence on Capitol Hill for the BRT, and he no doubt had a hand in establishing how the NMB operated.
In 1922, he was elected first vice president and was elected assistant to BRT President William Granville Lee in 1927. Doak served as acting BRT president for a time while Lee traveled abroad and also unsuccessfully ran for political office on three occasions, including for Virginia State Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
In 1928, Doak was elected to a combined post of national legislative representative and editor of the Brotherhood of Trainmen’s publication, The Railroad Trainman. A personal friend of Herbert Hoover, Doak worked on Hoover’s successful presidential campaign and served as a labor committee advisor for the Republican National Committee. Upon taking office in 1929, President Hoover eyed Doak as a possible labor secretary nominee, but opposition rose from the American Federation of Labor that scuttled that nomination.
However, after the Great Depression struck, Hoover changed course and nominated Doak to lead the DOL in 1930. In collaboration with his immediate predecessor, James J. Davis, who became a U.S. senator representing Pennsylvania after leaving as labor secretary, Doak’s crowning achievement was helping the Davis-Bacon Act — legislation that established prevailing wage laws that benefit our Sheet Metal brothers and sisters and other union laborers — to become federal law in 1931. That law remains in effect 90 years later.
“Doak was sensitive to unemployment matters and supported studies of public works programs and unemployment insurance to offset the effects of the Great Depression,” historian Jonathan Grossman wrote in an article marking the 75th anniversary of the Department of Labor that was published in the February 1988 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. “But economic conditions worsened during his relatively brief tenure, and he was overwhelmed by the worldwide economic disaster.”
After serving as DOL head for the majority of Hoover’s Depression-ravaged term, Doak left the post in March 1933 after Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office and returned from a leave he had taken from his BRT leadership position as national legislative representative.
Just months later, on Oct. 23, 1933, Doak passed away at age 50 from cardiovascular disease. However, the work that he did as a labor leader continues to reverberate through our organization to this day.

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today announced an interim enforcement response plan for the coronavirus pandemic. The response plan provides instructions and guidance to OSHA area offices and compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) for handling coronavirus-related complaints, referrals and severe illness reports.

During the coronavirus outbreak, OSHA area offices will utilize their inspection resources to fulfill mission essential functions and protect workers exposed to the disease. The response plan contains interim procedures that allow flexibility and discretion for field offices to maximize OSHA’s impact in securing safe workplaces in this evolving environment.

“OSHA is committed to protecting the health and safety of America’s workers during this challenging time in our nation’s history,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt said. “Today’s guidance outlines commonsense procedures for investigating complaints related to the coronavirus, while also ensuring the safety of workers, employers and inspectors.”

The response plan outlines procedures for addressing reports of workplace hazards related to the coronavirus. Fatalities and imminent danger exposures related to the coronavirus will be prioritized for on-site inspections. The response plan contains procedures and sample documentation for CSHOs to use during coronavirus-related inspections. Workers requesting inspections, complaining of coronavirus exposure or reporting illnesses may be protected under one or more whistleblower statutes and will be informed of their protections from retaliation.

This memorandum will take effect immediately and remain in effect until further notice. It is intended to be time-limited to the current public health crisis. Check OSHA’s webpage at frequently for updates.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment and assure work-related benefits and rights.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is reminding employers that it is illegal to retaliate against workers because they report unsafe and unhealthful working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic. Acts of retaliation can include terminations, demotions, denials of overtime or promotion or reductions in pay or hours.

“Employees have the right to safe and healthy workplaces,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt. “Any worker who believes that their employer is retaliating against them for reporting unsafe working conditions should contact OSHA immediately.”

Workers have the right to file a whistleblower complaint online with OSHA (or 1-800-321-OSHA) if they believe their employer has retaliated against them for exercising their rights under the whistleblower protection laws enforced by the agency.

OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program webpage provides valuable resources on worker rights, including fact sheets on whistleblower protections for employees in various industries and frequently asked questions.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than 20 whistleblower statutes protecting employees from retaliation for reporting violations of various workplace safety and health, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, motor vehicle safety, healthcare reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, securities and tax laws. For more information on whistleblower protections, visit OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Programs webpage.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

Advisory on Union Officer Elections and Public Disclosure Reporting in Areas Affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) issues this advisory regarding the labor union officer election requirements under Title IV and the reporting requirements of Title II of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA). OLMS recognizes that due to the disruption caused by COVID-19, it may be difficult or impossible for some unions to conduct timely union officer elections. Similar difficulties may confront unions, labor relations consultants, and employers faced with public disclosure filing requirements. OLMS issues this advisory for those unions, employers, or labor relations consultants affected by COVID-19.
Elections: The LMRDA requires that all national and international labor unions elect their officers not less often than every five years. Officers of intermediate bodies, such as general committees, system boards, joint boards, joint councils, conferences, and certain districts, district councils and similar organizations, must be elected at least every four years, and officers of local labor unions not less often than every three years. See the OLMS Electing Union Officers publication for further information.
Labor unions affected by COVID-19 must still make a good faith effort to conduct officer elections within LMRDA timeframes. OLMS has jurisdiction to file a civil enforcement action concerning a failure to hold a timely election after receipt of a complaint from a union member who has first sought a remedy from his or her union. If OLMS receives a complaint from a union member solely regarding a union’s failure to hold an election within the LMRDA timeframes, but the election has been completed prior to OLMS receipt of the complaint, then OLMS will take no enforcement action. If OLMS receives a complaint regarding a union’s ongoing failure to hold an election, and that failure was attributable to COVID-19, OLMS will promptly seek a voluntary compliance agreement with the union. The agreement would require the union to hold the election when practicable on a date certain. With such an agreement, OLMS will not seek a civil enforcement action based on the complaint, provided the election is held in conformance with the agreement.
Public Disclosure Reports (LM reports): Labor unions, labor relations consultants, and employers affected by COVID-19 must make a good faith effort to file required public disclosure reports. The failure to file a timely and complete report is an ongoing violation of the LMRDA. OLMS has jurisdiction to file a civil enforcement action concerning a failure to meet reporting requirements. OLMS will not, however, pursue a civil enforcement action with regard to a delinquent or deficient report when these reporting violations are attributable to COVID-19. Unions, employers, and labor relations consultants wishing to take advantage of this enforcement policy should contact OLMS before the report is due, describe the circumstances necessitating additional time, and provide a date certain by which the report can reasonably be submitted. Under these circumstances, OLMS will not lodge a civil enforcement action to obtain the delinquent or deficient report. Unless an extension is granted, LM reports are due by March 31, 2020.


News Release


WASHINGTON – Many characterize union organizing campaigns as debates between management and labor over the impact of unionization on businesses and workers. Today, employers commonly engage third-party consultants in crafting and delivering anti-union messages to workers. Workers often do not know when employers engage consultants behind the scenes to influence their decisions. To address this lack of transparency, a new rule from the U.S. Department of Labor will require reporting of employer-consultant, or “persuader” agreements – to complement the information that unions already report on their organizing expenditures, resulting in better information for workers making decisions on whether or not to form a union or bargain collectively. “Workers should know who is behind an anti-union message. It’s a matter of basic fairness,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “This new rule will allow workers to know whether the messages they’re hearing are coming directly from their employer or from a paid, third-party consultant. Full disclosure of persuader agreements gives workers the information they need to make informed choices about how they pursue their rights to organize and bargain collectively. As in all elections, more information means better decisions.” “This rule is about disclosure, and more disclosure here means more peaceful and stable labor-management relations. With workers having a better understanding of the true source of persuader communications, worker-supervisor and other workplace relationships are likely to proceed more smoothly no matter what is decided regarding union representation,” said Office of Labor-Management Standards Director Michael Hayes. The new rule interprets Section 203 of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. The law requires labor organizations, consultants, and employers to file reports and disclose expenditures on labor-management activities. The law intends to prevent abuse, corruption, and improper practices by labor organizations, employers, and labor relations consultants alike. A longstanding loophole, however, allows employers to hire consultants to create materials, strategies and policies for organizing campaigns – and even to script managers’ communications with employees – without disclosing anything, as long as the consultant does not directly contact employees. The new rule closes the loophole to align the regulation with the statute, by requiring reporting on “actions, conduct or communications that are undertaken with an object, explicitly or implicitly, directly or indirectly, to affect an employee’s decisions regarding his or her representation or collective bargaining rights.” Under the same statute, unions already are required to make comprehensive public reports on their expenditures, including expenditures on union-organizing campaigns. The Federal Register will publish the new rule on March 24. The change will be applicable to arrangements, agreements, and payments made on or after July 1, 2016. The final rule and additional information is available on the OLMS website at