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Home » Blog » ATDA convenes 2024 General Chairmen’s meeting in Washington, D.C.

ATDA convenes 2024 General Chairmen’s meeting in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday, 4/23/2024, more than 20 ATDA System Committee General Chairs from across the country gathered for a 3-day meeting at the AFL-CIO building in the Nation’s Capital. With a focus on strategic dialogue, the meeting covered a variety of topics, including Railway Labor Act vs National Labor Relations Act provisions, government policymaking, dispute arbitration, and the impact of politics on ATDA members. To maximize the event’s potential, ATDA General Chairs heard from, and dialogued with the following expert speakers:

Amit Bose – Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration

John Bragg – Labor Member of the Board, Railroad Retirement Board

Liz Shuler – President, AFL-CIO

Fred Redmond – Secretary-Treasurer, AFL-CIO

Pat Warren – Director, Office of Railroad, Pipeline, & Hazardous Material Investigations, NTSB

Mike Hiller – Deputy Director, Office of Railroad, Pipeline, & Hazardous Material Investigations, NTSB

Greg Regan – President, Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO

Alex Beckman – Legislative Representative, Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO

Mitchell Kraus – Arbitrator & Mediator

Ron Barto – Strategic Account Executive, UnitedHealthCare

Tom Butera – Senior Director, Finance, UnitedHealthCare

Angela Miller – Manager of Member Relations, UnitedHealthCare

Additionally, the meeting featured presentations from ATDA President Ed Dowell, Secretary-Treasurer Bill Sikes, and Vice Presidents Brandon Denucci, Kevin Porter, Barry Cross, and Colin Thurman.

While the AFL-CIO went to great lengths to welcome the ATDA to Washington, they weren’t the only ones to extend hospitality: On Tuesday, 4/23, the meeting’s attendees were afforded the special honor of visiting the White House at the invitation of President Joe Biden.

In response to the meeting, some of the ATDA General Chairs commented on its impact:

Chris Calhoun – General Chairman – Terminal Railway System Committee – “This event was very insightful. I was exposed to the larger role the ATDA plays in the labor movement. I also saw just how connected to Washington the Organization is on a daily basis. The partnerships the national officers have fostered with other labor organizations and government officials are very impactful.”

Ben Craft – General Chairman – CSX System Committee – “This meeting brought us together and provided us with the insights of experts. The opportunity to learn directly from an arbitrator and the administrator of the FRA is huge. The ATDA got stronger this week. Furthermore, meeting at the AFL-CIO headquarters, the house of labor, was an honor.”

Caitlin Elison – General Chairman – Alaska System Committee – “As a newly elected GC coming to DC all the way from Alaska was a big trek but well worth it. Learning and networking with all my fellow GC’s is invaluable.”

Tim Evans – General Chairman – WC System Committee – “I really like the direction that the organization is heading. The information we received at the General chairman’s meeting was insightful and will be helpful for my members.”

Keith Kajkowski – General Chairman – Conrail System Committee – “The meetings were informative, and it was reassuring to see everyone working together with common goals in mind.”

Chad Looby – General Chairman – Metra System Committee – “Representing a smaller railroad property, these meetings are invaluable. The information we were equipped with, and the guest speakers taught us so much about representation.”

August Miles – General Chairman – KCS System Committee – “This meeting was extremely informative. I particularly enjoyed hearing from representatives of the National Transportation Safety Board representatives and the opportunity to Q&A with an arbitrator. I believe we’re leaving here better prepared to represent the members.”

Erica Ray – General Chairman – Tri-Rail System Committee – “The event was great. We were all able to get together and speak about what’s happening on each of our properties. It helps all of us to think about different situations that we come across and to know that we have the support of each other.”

Nick Serrano – General Chairman – NS Integrated System Committee – “President Dowell and his Executive Board are proving their commitment to strengthen our union through education and communication.”

Bruce West – General Chairman – BRC System Committee – “I want to thank the ATDA for giving our small property with only 10 members the same voice that all the big roads have. This meeting demonstrated the hard work that the ATDA is doing for all its members.

Although the meeting marked a significant moment of solidarity and collaboration for the Organization’s members, ATDA President Dowell described the event as an important, but singular step in a much-broader fight: “This meeting was a major success and broke new ground for the ATDA. For the first time, we were able to capitalize on new relationships with the Biden Administration, which includes the FRA and NTSB, to bring our General Chairs face-to-face with subject matter experts. We leave here energized, united, and better equipped than ever before to fight for our members. At the same time, this is just the beginning and there is work to be done. I’m thankful for our local and national leadership who have made it clear they are ready to meet any challenge head-on. They understand that WE are the ATDA. They understand what WE are fighting for. And they understand that WE CONTROL THE RAILROAD.”

ATDA Joint Board and General Chairs on the steps of the White House