Brothers and Sisters,
We, as organized labor, have always been strong advocates of the Second Amendment, as many of us are hunters and outdoorsmen. What many do not know is that there is a Labor Organization called the Union Sportsman Association that was formed for these very reasons. I ask that all of you visit the site and consider joining.
I’ve received a great number of emails on this issue, and I feel I need to say more.
During this tumultuous presidential campaign, there have been persistent claims that suggest we are at risk of losing our Second Amendment rights if Hillary Clinton is
elected our next president.  This is simply not true.
In fact, this issue was discussed during the recent debate, when both candidates, Trump and Clinton, agreed that they would ‘try to get the guns out of the hands of people that should not have them’ i.e., criminals that should not be able to legally purchase a gun, according to existing laws. They both made similar comments regarding this issue.
Hillary has stated, as many others on both sides of the aisle have, that we need to have uniform laws in place to purchase and sell weapons, including a more thorough background check.
This does not, would not, and could not take away your Second Amendment rights, nor would it limit them. It simply strengthens procedures to ensure that those who qualify to own a weapon are allowed to do so, and those who do not qualify, cannot obtain one.
Donald Trump, despite his NRA endorsement, has flip-flopped several times on gun control. He stated in his book, The America We Deserve that he supported the ban on assault weapons. “I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons, and I also support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun,” Trump wrote.
I am a gun owner. In fact, I own several and have never had an issue with purchasing one, as I am sure most of you have not. Why? Because we are not criminals and we are of sound mind. Making gun laws more restrictive will not have any effect on my ability to own a weapon.
This issue has been spun by the Trump camp to persuade voters that Hillary will dismantle the Second Amendment, which is an outright lie.
To clarify this issue, here is what would need to happen to do away with the 2nd Amendment:  The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate would have to draft an Amendment to the Constitution. It would then have to be approved by a two-thirds supermajority. Once it has been passed by both houses of Congress, the President would then have to sign it. As if this is not enough, the proposed amendment change would then be sent to each and every state in the nation for ratification. It would then require three-fourths of the states to vote in favor of the change…nearly impossible and exactly why we have had so very few constitutional amendments. So in short, not one person, nor one branch of government can make this change.
This issue surfaces as a diversion tactic in every election, and is simply a way for Trump to divert and distract members of labor away from the real issues like fair living wages, safe work environments and our retirement, among many quality of life issues. It reminds me of a quote that I read years ago and kept for good reason: “What does a politician do when they have no record of legislative accomplishments, or solutions to solve problems? They invoke the politics of fear.” And Donald Trump is a master at using the politics of fear to capture support.
Make no mistake, our quality of life is at stake if we cast our vote in the wrong direction. Do your own research on the real issues from both candidates and see what conclusion you come up. Vote for the person who has your best interest, and the best interest of your family, at the heart of their policies.
If we vote for a candidate who sparks our emotions on hot button topics that are not factual, we will all need our guns to feed our families because our wages will decrease (why do you think the railroads are waiting to finalize our contract until after the election results are known?).
Our healthcare benefits will be stripped, eliminated or at the very least triple what we are paying now. Our retirement will be taken away and rolled into social security. The list goes on and on.
Do you need more proof?
Trump’s choice for VP, Mike Pence, has voted to limit, reduce or take away your railroad retirement and has voted against numerous labor protection and wage bills in his political career. Do you think Pence’s views have changed? Of course they haven’t.
What about Presidential appointments?
The President appoints the administrator to several extremely influential positons that have a direct effect on transportation labor: Our safety – Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration; our wages – National Mediation Board, Presidential Emergency Boards; our jobs – Surface Transportation Board; and, our retirement – Railroad Retirement Board.
Do you feel more comfortable allowing Donald Trump to make these choices or Hilary Clinton, who has a long history of supporting working family agendas – and over a 92% voting record on labor issues?
It does not matter who you like personally, what matters is this: Will the next president support those critical issues – jobs, wages, retirement—that matter to you and that matter to the health and wellbeing of your family?
Our job as Labor Legislative Leaders is to seek out and support those candidates who will support our industry, our quality of life and our working class values, regardless of party affiliation.
We have spent considerable time in vetting these candidates with background checks, research, voting record checks and personal interviews. Before you cast your vote, I ask that you create a score card listing all that is at stake, and consider what you’ll get to keep and all that you could lose.
To me the answer is clear: Trump’s manipulative lies and fear-based politics is simply not in the best interest of me, my family our industry and nation and it is my hope that all of you will come to the same conclusion and vote November 8th for all SMART TD endorsed candidates .
Jerry L Gibson Jr
SMART TD Michigan State Legislative Director

By John Risch, SMART TD National Legislative Director
RischFor those of you who don’t know me, I’m honored to serve as your elected National Legislative Director. I came from the ranks, starting in the track department on the Burlington Northern and went into train service, spending more than 30 years in freight and passenger service in North Dakota.
My father was a truck driver and my mother was a stay-at-home parent who raised three children and a cousin of mine. We grew up poor, which gave me a real appreciation for the pay and benefits that a good union job provided. My 30-plus years working on the railroad has given me a real perspective of the issues we face, and drives me to protect what we already have and work to make our jobs better.
The outcome of the Presidential Election will determine whether we make progress on improving our jobs or whether we lose ground.
The next president of the United States will set the tone, and will make important appointments to positions that directly affect you.
The head of the Federal Railroad Administration will decide:

  • Whether the two-person crew regulation is finalized or discarded
  • Whether we enact regulations requiring uniform speed signs on railroads
  • Whether there will be limitations on the use of inward facing cameras
  • What to do about fatigue in the freight rail industry

Appointees to the National Mediation Board will intervene in our contract negotiations and influence things like wages and work rules. They will also appoint arbitrators who decide if an unjustly fired member returns to work with or without back pay.
The head of the Motor Carrier Administration will decide how, or if, we will deal with the terrible problem of driver assault.

The next Chairman of the Railroad Retirement Board will determine not only how our pension is administered, but how our unemployment, sickness and disability benefits are administered as well.
I’m very concerned about Donald Trump, should he be elected as our next President. He has repeatedly said he will discard regulations and get rid of government bureaucracy. These are good sound bites and none of us want more government rules than are necessary, but when you look at the pending regulations affecting us, like two-person crews, fatigue and locomotive cameras, this rhetoric takes on a different meaning.
I have a note on my desk that says: “My most important job is to make sure that bad things don’t happen to our members.” I’m charged with the responsibility of protecting and improving the jobs of our members – an assignment I don’t take lightly. That job may be nearly impossible under a Trump administration.
Here is a book review of a recent book by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Cay Johnston. The book explains many of Donald Trump’s human failings. I know the hardcore Trump supporters in our ranks have by and large ignored these failings, but I cannot. I care about our hardworking members and our country, and quite simply put, Donald Trump is unqualified to serve as President of the United States.
If he is elected I’m afraid that he will appoint people to government that are equally unqualified, causing significant damage to the progress we have already made.
While I pledge to do the best I can to improve things for our members, I can’t do it on my own. I need your help at the ballot box. We’ve endorsed Hillary Clinton, she will support our union, our issues and the progress that unions have made. This is serious stuff and we all need to do our part in making our jobs better not just for us, but for those who follow. And that work starts with this election.
Anyone who wants to call and talk about this can call me at 202-543-7714. I work for you: What every one of you has to say matters to me.