October 21, 2014

Operating unions advance federal crew-size legislation

capitolCLEVELAND — The Transportation Division of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation International Association (SMART) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET/IBT) have jointly announced that legislation requiring at least two crew members on all freight trains in the U.S. has been filed in Congress.

Initial sponsors for H.R. 3040 are U.S. Reps. Michael Michaud (D-Maine) and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and the bill is expected to be assigned to the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee for consideration.

The legislation reflects heightened concerns over crew size arising from the tragic July 6 derailment of a Montreal, Maine & Atlantic (MM&A) fuel train in Lac Mégantic, Quebec, which killed 47 and destroyed the center of the town. The MM&A train was crewed by a single person.

BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce called on the House to take up the bill at its earliest opportunity. “The American people are justifiably concerned that the single-person crewing practice used on M&MA and some other short line railroads places the public safety at risk,” Pierce said. “We urge Chairman Schuster and the T&I Committee to hold hearings on this issue after the recess.”

SMART Transportation Division President Mike Futhey said, “This is a responsible piece of legislation that recognizes the correlations between the consist of crews and public safety. We thank Reps. Michaud and Pingree and urge more representatives to join in support.”