A New Year for SMART Transportation

To My Union Brothers and Sisters,

I would like to wish all of you a happy and healthy New Year.  2014 was a big year for this union and 2015 is shaping up to be another big one, with changes in store for this General Committee and the MTA.

First I would like to congratulate our new Local Chairman of Local 1565 Marco Gudino.  I am excited to see what leadership and enthusiasm he brings to representing his local in this General Committee.  

This year started will start off with new people at the MTA.  The first big news was the election of Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis.  There will also be a third fresh face on the board with the appointment of Mayor James T Butts of Inglewood.  He replaces long time board member Mayor Pam O’Conner of Santa Monica.  Not much is known of Mayor Butts predisposition to labor or the protection and expansion of the LACMTA, but we believe there are areas of agreement to make work conditions better for the membership.  All of this was followed by the resignation announcement of MTA CEO Art Leahy and Interim COO Bill Foster.  Speculation is abound and we will closely follow any news on their replacements, but the bottom line is we won’t know until the MTA announces.

No matter who fills the seats we believe we are well positioned to make massive changes on a top priority of mine.  Following a couple of high profile cases of operator assault, operator safety is an issue that is fresh in the minds of high level staff and board members at the MTA.  You may have already seen some changes.  Video monitors have been installed and are scheduled to be installed on 150 more new busses.  A pilot program was also announced to install and track the progress of a new protective barriers for motor coach operators.  We are also hoping to announce soon a committee made up of Union and MTA Staff representatives dedicated to the task of operator safety.  All ideas and initiatives on the subject will run through this committee so that the best and most effective ideas can be presented to the MTA board for approval.  If you have any ideas please don’t hesitate to give them to your Local Chairs.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced last year, new regulatory powers it and the Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) have in the area of Safety and Security over local transit agencies.  Along with the new oversight comes federally funded pilot programs and information sharing from across the country.  We are determined to push the MTA to seek out any and all opportunities that can bring about best practices and federal dollars to implement new tools to keep our operators safe.

I am extremely optimistic for the prospects of this union in the New Year.  With a new contract ensuring work protections and career growth as well as changes to operator safety, this is shaping up to be a very good year for this union and its members.  United as one there is nothing we cannot achieve.


In Solidarity,


James A Williams