Kelsey Gibson

As an organization, we are known for digging deep into our pockets and reaching out to those less fortunate and in need when a tragedy strikes.

Michigan State Legislative Director Jerry L. Gibson and his family have been dealing with a tough issue of their own and Assistant State Legislative Director Don Silseth is asking SMART members to consider participating in the first Kelsey Gibson Benefit golf outing, dinner and auction.

Gibson’s daughter, Kelsey, was involved in a horrific car accident in January 2013. She was 21 at the time. Her life hung in the balance for weeks, but she endured.

 Kelsey remains in a wheelchair and receives near daily therapy. She is totally dependent on others, yet Silseth says she is 100 percent cognizant.

There has been encouraging research in treatments that could be of great benefit to Kelsey, however, the estimated $160,000 to $220,000 cost is not covered by insurance.

A group of union brothers and sisters from within this organization and others have formed a committee to assist the Gibson family, Silseth said.

The committee is seeking golf participants as well as sponsors, and donations are appreciated. For complete details, visit There are participant registration forms and sponsorship information.

The Kelsey Gibson Benefit will be held Saturday, June 20, at The Pines Gold Course in Wyoming, Mich.

“It is my hope that we can line the fairways with SMART union signs from across the United States and Canada. With strong fraternal support, we can begin to move this treatment from hopes and dreams to reality,” Silseth said.

“I am proud and fortunate to have Jerry Gibson as a fellow member of SMART Transportation Division Local 313 (Grand Rapids, Mich.). He is all union, all the time, and he never gives up on our issues. If you ever asked Jerry for help, I’m sure you received it. He won’t ask this of you, but I will. Please help if you can.”

A tentative four-year agreement covering flight attendants employed by Great Lakes Airlines and represented by UTU Local 40 has been negotiated with the carrier. The agreement has been circulated for ratification, with votes to be counted May 17.

The UTU represents some 300 flight attendants and pilots on this regional airline based in Cheyenne, Wyo., and with hubs in Albuquerque, N.M.; Billings, Mont.; Denver; Kansas City; Los Angeles; Milwaukee; and Phoenix.

The agreement provides for wage increases, a signing bonus, a per diem rate, a doubling of the sick-leave accrual rate, improvements to the uniform allowance and relocation expenses, and enhancements in working conditions.

Also negotiated is a significant improvement in the discipline rule, which would require the carrier to hold an investigation, issue a formal decision, respond to an appeal of the UTU, and hold a conference, if requested. An agency shop rule also is included in the tentative new agreement.

UTU International Vice President John Previsich, who assisted with the negotiations, praised the efforts of Local 40 officers “for doing a good job of polling the membership to identify the needs and desires of the workgroup and for attending every session fully prepared and ready to negotiate.

“They did their homework, knew the contract inside and out, and did thorough research on industry-standard pay and rule provisions,” Previsich said. “Their efforts were essential in obtaining such a favorable contract at a time when the country and the airline industry struggles in a very challenging economic and political climate.” Previsich also thanked UTU International Vice President Paul Tibbit for his participation and “wise counsel.”

The UTU continues to negotiate on behalf of Great Lakes pilots, with negotiating sessions scheduled for June and July.

Great Lakes Airlines serves 48 of its destinations through the Essential Air Service program and is the nation’s largest provider of Essential Air Service. Great Lakes Airlines operates 30-passenger Embraer aircraft and 19-passenger Beechcraft airplanes.