Local 1701: There are very few moments in someone’s career when the power of a union comes into play more than when they have been targeted and fired as a result of private, union-protected conversations about a pending contract.

This is exactly what happened to 27 bus operators and mechanics out of Local 1701 in Montebello, California, this year. With a bus department made up of roughly 100 operators, service workers and mechanics combined, the city of Montebello has so far failed to negotiate a new contract with SMART-TD. Because of this, our members in Local 1701 have been working without a contract since December 21, 2021.


Obviously, this is a cause of concern for all our brothers and sisters on the property. Our members have been discussing the matter among themselves at local meetings and have been reaching out to their local officers. In early 2023, the city of Montebello, nervous about what was being said, resorted to an old-school union-busting technique straight from the 1800s and brought in private investigators to aggressively interview many of Local 1701’s members.

After allowing five months or more to go by, they brought the investigators back to the property to re-interview the same men and women they had harassed last fall. They interrogated our members with the same questions as the first round, and if any of their answers didn’t match up exactly, they put them on administrative leave pending termination for dishonesty and insubordination.


All in all, TWENTY-SEVEN of our brothers and sisters were put on administrative leave, and not coincidentally, they outright terminated Betty Vasquez, who is the local chairperson and vice general committee chair, along with placing General Chairperson Cecilia Lopez on administrative leave and serving her with intent-to-terminate paperwork.

All this was put in place as they and SMART-TD Vice President Alvy Hughes were fighting the city to get a fair contract that Montebello officials weren’t willing to sign.


When VP Hughes found out about Montebello’s blatant bullying and illegal tactics, he didn’t hesitate to get the TD office involved. VP Hughes filed an unfair labor practice charge against the city and assigned recently elevated fellow SMART-TD Bus Department Vice President James Sandoval to go to Montebello to represent and defend the members who were being interrogated by the private investigator and the city.

Once on the ground, Sandoval got into the details of the interviews and intimidation the city was using, and he also filed a separate unfair labor practice charge against Montebello, which stopped the interviews from continuing. General Chairperson Lopez and Vice Chairperson Vasquez, who have remained heavily involved in this fight even while facing their terminations, filed three additional charges of their own.

All told, SMART-TD officials levied five charges of unfair labor practices against the city and its leadership. In addition, they filed multiple information requests and reached out to many local politicians as well as the local labor council in Los Angeles for help.

VP Sandoval took one of the charges to a Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) hearing, which resulted in a settlement agreement where the city agreed to not violate our members’ right to protected activity moving forward.

27 members are reinstated and contract negotiations resume, marking another victory for SMART-TD.


Apparently, the points made in these charges hit home with the city. After SMART-TD’s show of support for Local 1701, they dropped the ridiculous charges on all 27 of our members and brought them all back to work. For the record, all were paid for the time they were out on the bogus charges. The city also requested a meeting with our union to settle the rest of the unfair labor practice charges, which resulted in a larger settlement agreement.


SMART-TD is grateful for the hard work and persistence of the men and women of Local 1701. We are beyond excited that everyone came back and nobody lost pay. But there is work left to be done. These 27 members and all their co-workers are still working with no contract!

These men and women were on the front lines, pulling the city through the COVID-19 pandemic. They continue to move their local economy despite the ongoing surge of violent assaults on public transit.

It is not acceptable that they bear this burden without the respect and peace of mind that comes with a ratified contract.


After the city was forced to do the right thing by our people and brought them back to work, they may have thought they were done hearing from SMART-TD for a while. THEY WERE WRONG.

At a recent Montebello City Council meeting, Local 1701 had a great show of force when many of their members came together at City Hall to demand good-faith negotiation of their contract. Joining them in their demonstration was VP Sandoval, as well as SMART-TD Bus Department Alternate Vice President of the Bus Department Markeisha Hayes.

Local 1701 has stood together throughout this multi-year ordeal, and absolutely nothing has or will change that. If Montebello wants SMART-TD to back off and stop stepping to the microphone in their boardroom, they need to negotiate a fair contract that reflects the hard work our members of Local 1701 have put in and give them the respect they deserve.

SMART-TD’s office thanks our members in Local 1701, especially GC Lopez and Vice Chairperson Vasquez, for continuing this fight. We want you to know that we are with you for the long haul. Keep standing up for this union, and most importantly, keep standing up for one another. Together, we will prevail.

Brother Richard Gulley, president of Local 1590 (Anaheim, Calif.) passed away on June 29, 2023.

Brother Richard Gulley, president of Local 1590 in Anaheim, Calif., passed away June 29.

“Brother Gulley was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and friend,” said Bus Department Vice President Alvy Hughes. “As local president, Brother Gulley was instrumental in assembling one of our newest bus locals that represents operators and maintenance employees. 

Hughes said Brother Gulley was well-respected by the members of his local and had a way of putting a smile on everyone’s face. 

“He will be greatly missed,” Hughes said.

The SMART Transportation Division offers its sincere condolences to all in Local 1590 who worked in solidarity with Brother Gulley, as well as his family and his friends in this difficult time. 

June 26, 2023, was the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) deadline for the public to respond to their Notice of Public Rule Making (NPRM) on forming new Public Transportation Agency Safety Plans (PTASPs.)

FTA requested public comments on how to keep bus operators safe on the job, and as a union SMART Transportation Division answered the bell.

The National Legislative Department would like to thank all of our bus members for their time, efforts, and the quality of the ideas shared while we were putting together our response. SMART-TD reached out to you, and you answered. We truly are an organization that can only be as strong as our members and your assistance was highly appreciated.

As a result of the feedback we received from multiple bus members, Bus Vice Presidents Calvin Studivant and Alvy Hughes, as well as Anthony Petty, representing our members from SEPTA in Philadelphia, Pa., SMART-TD’s team submitted a strong response.

Unlike many responses they received, ours was fueled by information and creativity that came straight from the front lines.

Thank you all for your efforts to keep yourself as well as your union brothers and sisters safe at work and both represented as well as respected in the PTASP development process.

Read the submission to FTA (PDF)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (March 18) — SMART Transportation Division (SMART-TD) President Jeremy R. Ferguson and TD Bus Department Vice Presidents Calvin Studivant and Alvy Hughes sent a letter to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Raymond Martinez urging the head of the FMCSA to thoroughly respond to the rapidly spreading national threat of COVID-19 (coronavirus).
“While it is noted FMCSA recently issued a national emergency declaration and guidelines for commercial vehicles delivering relief in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, to our knowledge, it has not released information or guidelines pertinent to our members,” Ferguson, Studivant and Hughes wrote, noting that agencies such as the Federal Transit Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation and Maritime Administration have submitted guidelines to employers on how to handle COVID-19.
The SMART Transportation Division represents about 8,000 bus members, many of whom work in densely populated urban areas susceptible to the virus’s spread.
“We are urging you to issue emergency regulations directed towards metropolitan transportation authorities (and similar carriers), employees and passengers,” TD leadership wrote.
The mandates urged by SMART-TD to protect its membership and the public were that:

  • buses be sanitized after every route or tour of duty, prior to it being occupied by a subsequent operator or passengers. Require the use of CDC recommended chemicals to kill germs on surfaces, including wiping down all operator controls, seating, windows, steering wheels, door handles, switches, etc. (anywhere that an employee is likely to touch). Likewise, a disinfectant spray should be used at the end of cleaning to broadly disinfect the operators’ work area;
  • passenger areas and other equipment such as (but not limited to) computers, time clocks, restrooms, and communal areas such as offices, crew staging areas and garages be sanitized at least once every 8 hours, ideally within the range of normal shift changes and on/off duty times, if they exist;
  • the above sanitization tasks be performed by individuals designated and educated on proper procedures, who are equipped with the necessary personal protective equipment, and include the removal of trash from buses and communal areas (this should not be considered incidental work performed by operators);
  • operators and passengers be provided with personal protective equipment, alcohol-based hand sanitizer strong enough to kill viruses, and other cleaning supplies as deemed appropriate;
  • the number of passengers and/or employees in a confined area (including buses) be limited to comply with the applicable Local, State, and/or federal guidelines;
  • employees be encouraged to stay home if they have respiratory symptoms (coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath, and/or fever) and to leave work if they develop such symptoms while at the workplace;
  • prohibition of attendance policies and availability standards which could result in discipline or penalties for employees who miss work due to COVID-19 related symptoms and/or illness;
  • all employees (including supervisory staff) must be educated on the appropriate guidelines for self-monitoring of their health condition, as well as monitoring and addressing others who appear to be symptomatic;
  • all employees reporting to work must be scanned for fever prior to the beginning of each route or tour of duty, with employees identified as having an elevated temperature immediately isolated and sent home for treatment or self-quarantine in accordance with CDC guidelines;
  • carriers must report to the appropriate health departments where employees have shown aforementioned symptoms that prevent them from carrying out their assigned duties;
  • carriers must develop plans for employees who reside with, and/or come into direct contact with, individuals who are symptomatic, and
  • carriers must comply with other such guidelines issued by the CDC and the federal government.

President Ferguson and Vice Presidents Studivant and Hughes also urged Martinez to provide timely  updates as FMCSA engages in its response to COVID-19.
“Further, we ask that you provide continual updates to these guidelines/mandates, as other departments have done,” they wrote. “Please advise of your plans pertaining to this very serious situation.”
Read the entire letter to FMCSA Administrator Martinez.