September 1, 2014

Conductor certification moving forward

The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 provides that no later than April 2010, the FRA must conduct a rulemaking to determine the principles, elements and methods of conductor certification.

The FRA says it is now prepared to move forward on that rulemaking with the assistance of a Rail Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) working group comprised of representatives from labor, the carriers and the FRA.

In response, International President Mike Futhey appointed a UTU team to join the RSAC Conductor Certification Working Group that will collaborate to create a consensus on the procedures to be applied in certifying conductors.

Appointed by Futhey to the RSAC Conductor Certification Working Group are:

  • Local 1470 Chairperson Director David A. Brooks
  • General Chairperson (GO 049) John Lesniewski
  • UTU Training Coordinator and Local 528 Legislative Representative Ron Parsons
  • National Legislative Director James Stem
  • Local 645 Chairperson Vinnie Tessitore
  • Attorney Larry Mann, UTU’s rail safety coordinator to UTU Designated Legal Counsel

The UTU representatives are in agreement that certification conversely carries the risk of decertification, and that their role includes building into the rulemaking safeguards from unnecessary burdens, and ensuring the rulemaking proceeds as intended by Congress in the Rail Safety Improvement Act.

Notably, the UTU representatives are in agreement that conductor certification will enhance the proficiency of UTU members, making them ever more professional and indispensable.

The UTU representatives to the working group said that collective bargaining, not the FRA rulemaking, would determine whether a certified conductor receives additional pay.