Ron Sabol of SMART-TD sworn in as NJ SEED’s newly elected president

Ron Sabol was sworn in as the newly elected president of the New Jersey Society for Environment and Economic Development (NJ SEED) during the coalition’s quarterly trustee and membership meeting at the Trenton Country Club in West Trenton today.

Senator Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. had the honor of swearing in Sabol, who currently serves as the New Jersey State Legislative Director for the transportation division of SMART, the international association of sheet metal, air, rail, and transportation workers union.

“It’s an honor to be elected, not just by labor, but by the business community, as well, to a position like this,” Sabol said. “I recognize that business and labor can work together to advance policy and ensure the safety of New Jersey residents.”

Diegnan said Sabol’s willingness to work simultaneously with the labor and business communities makes him an excellent candidate to succeed James Benton, NJ SEED’s immediate past president.

“Ron is the quintessence of how to get things done,” Diegnan said, noting Sabol embodies all the qualities of an outstanding leader. “It’s not only about being smart, it’s not only about listening to people, it’s about trust. You could not have a better leader.”

NJ SEED is a coalition of labor and business leaders advancing public policies that bolster the economy on balance with a clean environment. The coalition also works together to create jobs and upgrade transportation systems.

Its diverse membership over the past 35 years has included energy providers, environmental consultants, telecommunications firms, residential and commercial development interests, insurance firms, educators, police and firefighters, food manufacturers and retailers, water utilities, chemical industries, pharmaceutical companies, and health care advocates.

NJ SEED is focused during the current legislative session on supporting New Jersey’s elected leaders and policy leaders at all levels of government to ensure federal funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act are directed to the intended communities.

Two months before President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill into law, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg asked Sabol, in a September 2021 video interview posted on social media, to explain what funding to upgrade the country’s rail systems would mean to those who work and ride the rails.

“For workers, we can make things safer, and we can expand, giving them more opportunities for work,” Sabol said. “But it’s the small stuff, where we would be able to upgrade a train station to be handicap accessible, to be able to bring people to and from school, work, and activities. A lot of that will get better. There will be more trains. The state of good repair will get better.”

Safety has forever been a hallmark of Sabol’s career, which commenced as a CSX freight railroad conductor in 1999.

“I got involved in my union right away and that’s because of safety,” said Sabol, who is now part of SMART transportation division’s national safety team. “Railroading is among the most dangerous jobs in the country.”

Buttigieg publicly recognized Sabol’s advocacy for the well-being of others, tweeting in September 2021 that “Ron rose within his union’s leadership because he wanted to help passengers and workers feel safe and supported.”

Sabol advocated for multiple transportation safety-related bills Diegnan sponsored as the Senate’s Transportation Committee chair. In the last two years, Governor Phil Murphy signed three such bills on which Diegnan and Sabol collaborated into law.

They include:

  • The Motorbus and Passenger Rail Service Employee Violence Prevention Act, designed to reduce acts of violence against transit employees and to provide transit workers with techniques for de-escalating potentially violent situations.
  • The NJ TRANSIT Employee Protection Act, which guarantees NJ TRANSIT employees the protections that already exist under federal law, including injury compensation and civil rights protections.
  • A bill requiring a railroad operator to destroy or remove obstructive vegetation upon its right-of-way at each intersection with a public road or highway, improving the safety for all who cross the tracks.

After being promoted to remote control locomotive operator, Sabol was elected president of SMART-TD Local 1447 of Newark in 2005.

Three years later, he was elected to the New Jersey State Legislative Board of SMART’s transportation division. In 2016, he became the board’s director.

Sabol currently serves as SMART transportation division’s New Jersey State AFL-CIO representative and the Mercer County Central Labor Council’s AFL-CIO representative.

He was appointed last year to the SMART transportation division’s national safety team.

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