SMART - TD Local 306

Serving Sioux City, Mason City & Eagle Grove on UPRR Former C&NW Lines

Workers Memorial Day - 4/27/2017

Workers Memorial Day


Tomorrow, April 28, unions across the country will observe Workers Memorial Day to remember those who have suffered and died on the job and to renew the fight for safe jobs.

This year we have joined our brothers and sisters across the labor movement to come together to defend hard-won victories in worker health protections and workplace safety laws. The Occupational Safety and Health Act and Mine Safety and Health Act promise workers the right to a safe job. Unions were key to making those acts a reality and have fought for modernization of workplace protections ever since. These fights have made jobs safer, saved hundreds of thousands of lives and prevented millions of workplace injuries and illnesses.

Still, each year, thousands of workers are killed and millions more injured or diseased because of their jobs. Please join all unions and workers on Workers Memorial Day to continue the fight for safe jobs by promoting workplace safety in your area.

Please click HERE to find a Workers Memorial Day event near you.  

The Value of Your Union Health Care - 4/26/2017

The Value of Your Union Health Care

Text SMART to 90975 for updates

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Senators work to halt Trump’s Amtrak cuts after derailments rise in NYC - 4/10/2017

Senators work to halt Trump’s Amtrak cuts after derailments rise in NYC

WASHINGTON – reported that U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Robert Melendez wrote to the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on transportation, calling on committee leadership to secure federal funding for Amtrak and also for the Amtrak Gateway Project – which seeks to rebuild and restructure the commuter train tunnel system that has connected New York City and New Jersey for more than a century. This comes after the occurrence of devastating derailments in the northeast corridor over the past year. Read the complete story here.

The New York also reported that U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is calling on the feds for funding to “help fix Amtrak.” Click here to read the entire story.

Editorial: ‘For rail safety’s sake: ECP brake technology a must’ - 3/28/2017

Editorial: ‘For rail safety’s sake: ECP brake technology a must’

By John Risch
National Legislative Director
SMART Transportation Division

Recently, I was the only labor participant in a technology roundtable before the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure where we discussed emerging technology in the railroad industry.

The focus of my comments was on Electronically Controlled Pneumatic (ECP) Brakes. I have operated trains with ECP brakes and they are the greatest safety advancement I have seen in my 40 years in the railroad industry. They slow and stop trains up to 70 percent faster than conventional brakes and are the safest most advanced train braking system in the world.

The railroad industry, in arguing against the implementation of ECP brakes, has claimed that dynamic brakes and distributive power are better choices. While they are correct that dynamic braking and distributive power are helpful in braking trains, the truth is – these two features are not nearly as effective as an ECP brake system.

Below is my Top 11 list (which is even better than a Top 10 list) on why ECP brakes are better than conventional air brakes:

1. ECP brakes maintain a train’s brake pipe pressure 100 percent of the time, conventional brakes do not. The colder the weather, the thinner the air, the more crucial maintaining brake pressure is.

2. ECP brakes allow for a”graduated release.” That means the engineer can partially release the train’s brakes without having to fully release them. This is vitally important because once a train’s brakes are released it takes time to recharge the train’s brake pipe pressure in order for the brakes to work again. The graduated release feature allows an engineer to maintain the speed of his/her train down steep grades with a partial application of the brakes, without fully releasing and reapplying the train’s brakes repeatedly. The graduated release feature all but eliminates the possibility of a runaway train.

3. When the engineer makes an emergency application of the brakes, every car with ECP brakes applies 100 percent of the time. This is not always true with conventional brakes.

4. ECP brakes would have prevented the terrible Lac-Megantic oil train tragedy that killed 47 people and destroyed the town, a factor cited in Transport Canada’s report on the accident. These brakes would have prevented the accident, because when air pressure on a car equipped with ECP brakes drops below 50 psi, the car automatically goes into emergency mode. So even an improperly secured train will not roll away.

5. ECP brakes allow the crew to monitor every car in the train in real time to determine if the brakes are applied or released. Conventional brakes do not.

6. ECP brakes record retrievable data associated with brake failures. There is no such review for conventional brakes. Trains are inspected every 1,000-1,800 miles and if the brakes are working during the inspection they continue on. If a car has brakes that fail to apply during that inspection, the car is taken to a repair facility. Often that facility is a heated shop where the car warms up, the brakes are tested and if they work at that point, the car is not repaired, rather, the car is placed back in the train.

7. ECP brakes all but eliminate in-train forces because all the cars apply and release at once. Conventional brakes cause lots of in-train forces, some of which damage merchandise and even cause derailments.

8. ECP brakes cause all cars to brake evenly, which dramatically reduces damage to wheels and brake shoes, saving a great deal of money in maintenance and repair. Conventional brakes do not. The modest cost of installing ECP brakes, about $3,000 per car on a new DOT 117 tank car that costs $144,000 to build, and about $60,000 per locomotive, will be more than paid for in the savings in car repairs, let alone reduced train derailments.

9. ECP brakes can be modified to apply hand brakes to a railcar automatically from the locomotive, allowing the crew to apply a hand brake on every car in the train in seconds. Conventional brakes must be applied by hand and it can take an hour or more to properly secure a train.

10. ECP brakes are required by the AAR for the movement of nuclear waste trains because they are the safest braking system available.

11. ECP brakes can be modified and will evolve to do everything that sophisticated wayside train detectors do now, and will do it constantly in real time, eventually eliminating the need for wayside detectors.

So, for the safety of rail workers, passengers and the residents in the cities and towns that trains run through, it is vital ECP brakes be phased-in in the freight rail industry.

SMART TD’s Risch – DC Roundtable on Emerging Railroad Technologies - 3/22/2017

SMART TD’s Risch – DC Roundtable on Emerging Railroad Technologies

SMART TD’s John Risch, fourth from left.

WASHINGTON – John Risch, SMART TD National Legislative Director, participated in hearings as a member of the Roundtable on Emerging Railroad Technologies on March 21, 2017. Discussion focused on new and emerging trends in railroad safety including train crew size, recent advancements in train brake technology, and early warning systems.

“Thank you Chairman Schuster, Subcommittee Chair Denham, and Ranking Member Capuano for inviting me to the roundtable discussion on emerging railroad technologies. With nearly 40 years in the railroad industry, I was pleased to have the opportunity to discuss the importance of maintaining minimum crew sizes, implementing Positive Train Control (PTC), and most importantly investing in the installation of Electronic Controlled Pneumatic (ECP) brakes, which are vital to safety of our railroads,” said John Risch, SMART-TD National Legislative Director.

“I look forward to working with the members of the committee to improve railroad safety as we discuss opportunities to strengthen our nation’s infrastructure,” Risch continued.

Click here to read Risch’s complete notes from the hearing.

Click here for information on participants and to view video.


SMART-TD Local 306


A special session of your General Committee was held in January 2017.  The main purpose was to elect a new General Chairman following Mike Reedy's retirement.  Jerry Kalbfell was elected General Chairman and Glenn Marker was elected full time Vice General Chairman.

The finance committee then presented a proposal to increase the General Committee monthly dues assessment by $10 due to a shortfall in the budget.  Membership is down from 2,147 in 2012 to 1,511 in 2016 due to the furloughing of our brothers and sisters.  The proposal passed and the assessment is expected to hit in April.  Please forward any questions to a local union officer.


Your Local Officers are here to protect you - help us all by calling when assistance is needed!  Don't settle for the carrier's attitutude - be involved!  A time claim is used to correct a violation of your contract - take the time to enter them and turn them in!


No job is so important, no service so urgent, that we cannot take the time to perform our work safely!


YOUR Union Meetings are:

Eagle Grove - Official Local Monthly Meeting - 2nd Wednesday of each Month; Godfather's Pizza at 18:30

Sioux City - 2nd Tuesday in February, May, August, November; Ramada Inn at 11:00

Mason City - as needed