Rail Unions Support New Bill on Freight Trains Requirement

CLEVELAND —Railroad Workers United announced that the Sheet Metal, Air, Transportation and Rail Workers’ (Smart) Rail Division, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen/ Teamsters, and AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department are supporting HR1763, new legislation introduced by Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska that requires two-member crews on all freight trains.


Other rail unions are backing legislation similar to HR1763 outside of Cleveland in other states, notably Minnesota, where the bill was expected to pass at DFL-run state senate committee hearing. Railroads attempted to lobby the bill, arguing that the bill was in conflict with federal law, according to Smart Minnesota transportation legislative director Philip Qualy.


Qualy also said, “The carriers’ practice to remove more and more persons from the right-of-ways of American railroads endangers the general public.”


Freight trains need two person-crews for safety. Several accidents could have been prevented if there had been another crewmember there to help, such as the 2013 oil train derailment, fire and explosion that only had one engineer.


According to President Dennis Pierce, “Today, there are only two ways to end 1-person train operations: Federal laws or regulations that outlaw this dangerous practice, or collectively bargained contract language that requires two crew members on every train.”


Smart Transportation Division President John Previsich agreed, “The safest rail operation is a two-person crew. With several major derailments in the last few months, most notably the oil train derailment and explosion near Charleston, W.Va., in February, lawmakers and the public must understand multi-person crews are essential to ensuring the safest rail operations possible in their communities.”


Source: PAI