October 5, 2015

Congress may act on railroads blocking highways

railroad crossing with sunset

WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (WSAU) — Federal Railroad Administration officials were in Wisconsin Rapids Monday to discuss problems including parked trains blocking roadways for long periods of time. Congressman Ron Kind joined local officials and the Regional Federal Railroad Administrator from Chicago to discuss that and other railroad issues. Kind says he agrees with FRA staff [...]

Congress extends highway, transit funding


Congress over the weekend sent to President Obama for his signature a two-month extension of federal funding of highway and transit programs. The surface transportation law known as MAP-21 was set to expire May 31. The House passed its bill — sponsored by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Bill Shuster (R-PA.) and House Ways and Means [...]

It definitely matters whom we elect to Congress


Congressional elections do matter. Actions of Congress can make a big difference when it comes to our job security, our wages, our fringe benefits, our retirement and safety in our workplace. In this issue of the SMART Transportation Division News are our official endorsements for the Nov. 4 election. These endorsements are based on recommendations [...]

Amtrak’s future crucial to Rail Retirement financing


Stem “Every Amtrak employee should be placed in a productive position that supports the needs of customer service and managed growth of operations,” UTU National Legislative Director James Stem told Congress Nov. 28. “Amtrak operating crews are among the most productive workers in that system and our members are ready and eager to work,” he [...]

Conservatives pressing attack on working families

U.S. Capitol Building; Capitol Building; Washington D.C.

Public transportation funding, transportation jobs, workplace safety, Railroad Retirement and Medicare are under a mean-spirited and sustained attack by congressional conservatives who are trying to muscle their agenda through Congress prior to the November elections. The UTU and Sheet Metal Workers International Association – now combined into the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) – [...]

Congress and the road ahead


By James StemUTU National Legislative Director Congress is back from its August recess and eyes are focused on the “Super Committee” of House and Senate members charged with finding $1.5 trillion in budget cuts over the next 10 years. Should that committee fail to agree — and that is likely — there is an automatic [...]

Amtrak privatization scheme voiced in House

WASHINGTON — Two House Republicans with transportation oversight authority — House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) and Rail Subcommittee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) — want to transfer ownership of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor to the private sector as the first step toward dismantling Amtrak and privatizing rail passenger service in the U.S. The [...]

Harsh cuts by Congress to transport funding

WASHINGTON — The vote by Congress April 15 on a budget that keeps the federal government operating through Sept. 30 contains harsh spending cuts for Amtrak, transit and high-speed rail. Especially troubling to UTU members are the Amtrak and transit budget cuts, which could result in worker furloughs, although none have been announced. More troubling [...]

UTU to Congress: Eliminate fatigue, boost safety

WASHINGTON — The single most important action Congress and the Federal Railroad Administration can take to improve rail safety — especially in the movement of hazardous materials — is to eliminate train-crew fatigue and provide predictable start times for train crews. That was the message delivered April 7 to the House Railroad Subcommittee by UTU [...]

Tell Congress: ‘Preserve democratic elections’

WASHINGTON — As the House of Representatives later this week decides whether to second-guess the expert National Mediation Board, lawmakers must ponder voting for a double standard. At issue is an NMB decision last year to make union representation elections more democratic. The NMB reversed a decades-long practice of adding to the “no” column in [...]