April 21, 2014

Congress must advance plan for Amtrak

Amtrak Logo


ORLANDO, Fla. – As lawmakers prepare to debate passenger rail reauthorization, leaders of AFL-CIO transportation unions are calling on Congress to set a long-term future for Amtrak that meets the demands of a growing ridership, invests in the railroad’s decaying equipment and network, protects the rights and jobs of workers and rejects “risky” privatization of [...]

With elections past, our work begins

Stem

By James Stem, National Legislative Director –  As a new Congress begins its largely partisan struggles, which are sometimes difficult to understand and frequently disturbing, the job of the National Legislative Office is to convince lawmakers that the legislative agenda of SMART members is the ideal recipe. The education process itself can be brutal, as evidenced [...]

Szabo: Rail investment spurs manufacturers

The following message was sent to the UTU National Legislative Office from Federal Railroad Administrator Joe Szabo: In his State of the Union Address last week, President Obama spoke about the importance of investing in our infrastructure as a path to create new jobs and lay a foundation for America’s economic success. In the last [...]

Transportation Secretary LaHood to step down

Ray LaHood

WASHINGTON — Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the only Republican left in President Barack Obama’s first-term cabinet, said today that he would be leaving the administration. Before becoming Secretary of Transportation, LaHood, 67, served for 14 years in the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois’ 18th District. During that time, he served on the House Transportation [...]

Labor Secretary Solis stepping down

solis

The White House has confirmed today that Labor Secretary Hilda Solis will not return for President Barack Obama’s second term. Prior to her confirmation as Secretary of Labor, Solis served as a member of Congress, representing the 32nd Congressional District in California from 2001 to 2009. During her time in Congress, Solis’ priorities included expanding [...]

Transit friend to head Senate Budget Committee

Morr, Bonnie.2011

By Bonnie MorrVice President, Bus Department –  Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington State, is the new chairperson of the Senate Budget Committee, which makes decisions on how much of the annual federal budget is available for transit. As chairperson, Sen. Murray will set the agenda and tone of Senate Budget Committee hearings and [...]

Senate confirms two to Amtrak board

Amtrak Logo

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Christopher R. Beall and Yvonne Brathwaite Burke as new members of the Amtrak Board of Directors for five-year terms. Beall, of Oklahoma, is a partner at Highstar Capital, an infrastructure investment firm specializing in the transportation, environmental services and energy sectors. Previously, Beall was chief financial officer for Aslan Group, [...]

Rail unemployment extended benefits to continue

The so-called fiscal cliff bill approved by the House and Senate Jan. 1 allows extended railroad unemployment benefits to continue through Dec. 31, 2013, with Congress appropriating $250,000 to the Railroad Retirement Board to administer those extended benefits under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act. The extension affects those railroaders out of work at least six [...]

Rail random alcohol, drug test-rate static for 2013

Random alcohol and drug testing rates for railroad workers in safety sensitive positions will remain at the same rate during 2013 as 2012. The Federal Railroad Administration said that because the random alcohol testing violation rate has remained below 0.5 percent for the past two years, the minimum random alcohol testing rate will remain at [...]

FRA: Intensive conductor training essential

FRA logo

One of the strongest studies validating the need for two-person crews and intensive training for conductors has come from the Federal Railroad Administration. The conclusion is that the conductor and engineer function as a team, with managing multiple priorities essential to safe train operation – especially with regard to use of positive train control technology [...]