September 21, 2014

Employees of RCP&E Railroad return to SMART

In a swift and decisive vote held Aug. 27, employees of Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern Railroad selected the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers as their voice on their property.

Among 53 eligible voters, 37 employees marked their ballots for the SMART Transportation Division and five voted for no union representation.

SMART Transportation Division Executive Board member Phillip Craig, who served as United Transportation Union vice general chairperson on the property when it was previously owned by Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad, was delighted to return his former members to the SMART fold.

“I was the general chairperson back when the property was owned by the DM&E and we organized it 25 years ago. I went out to the property prior to it being sold and the employees all felt good about SMART representation. So, I called Washington and I talked with Alternate National Legislative Director John Risch, and then Transportation Division Director of Organizing Rich Ross, and we went out there,” Craig said.

“When we organized it the first time, it took three years. This time it took less than 90 days.”

Ross said that when SMART organizers began passing out literature to RP&E employees, railroad officials asked workers to delay a representation vote for a year or so while the company instituted new work rules.

He said the employees saw no need to postpone the election. “No deal.”

Ross thanked Craig and SMART Transportation Division South Dakota State Legislative Director B.J. Shillingstad for their efforts throughout the campaign.

Craig responded in kind saying, “I thank Brother Shillingstad, Vice Local 64 Chairperson Mike Decker, Local 64 members Nick Boyer and Gus Manolis, Director of Organizing Rich Ross, National Legislative Director James Stem, Alternate National Legislative Director John Risch and President John Previsich. They were all a big help to me.”

Genesee & Wyoming Inc. acquired the former Canadian Pacific – DM&E line earlier this year and began operations under its new name June 1.

The shortline railroad operates over of 670 miles in four states – Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska. It transports about 52,000 carloads annually of grain, ethanol, bentonite clay, fertilizer and other products.