October 30, 2014

James Stem: ‘The times…they are a changing’

Stem

As I prepare for retirement, there are many things on my mind about the future of our industry and transportation workers that I have had the honor to represent during my career. The most important item on my agenda today, and every day during the past 31 years that I have been a legislative officer, [...]

Minn. SLB announces success in legislature

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SMART Transportation Division Minnesota State Legislative Director Phillip Qualy reports that House File 3172, the Omnibus Supplemental Appropriations Bill containing the Minnesota Railroad Yard Lighting Bill, has been passed and signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton. “The men and women in Minnesota and around the country that work in yard-switching operations should be able [...]

Stem testifies before House subcommittee

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SMART Transportation Division National Legislative Director James Stem testified March 12 before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy. The subcommittee’s hearing was held in regard to Senate Bill S.1009, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act, which would amend the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to establish an evaluative framework for chemical [...]

Unions back PAC supporting Republican centrists

Labor unions are funneling cash to a super-PAC tied to a former lawmaker that is working to elect centrist Republicans to Congress. Unions have contributed about $765,000 so far to the Defending Main Street Super-PAC, which is associated with former GOP lawmaker Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio), according to Federal Election Commission records. To view SMART Transportation [...]

Federal panel hears concerns on railroad safety

WASHINGTON – A federal panel heard comments Wednesday on the adequacy of safety regulations for railroads, during the first of two meetings that will focus on last month’s deadly train derailment in Lac-Megantic, Quebec. Fatigue is the top safety concern among train crew members, said a representative of one of the major unions for railroad [...]

PTC extension introduced by committee

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation introduced a positive train control (PTC) extension bill. The bill seeks to extend the statutory deadline for PTC implementation by five years to Dec. 31, 2020, as well as provide another optional two-year extension on 60,000 miles of track across the country. Shortline railroads that operate [...]

Quebec rail disaster may jump-starting safe push

A runaway oil train that killed scores of people when it slammed into a Quebec town is bringing renewed calls on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border for tougher safety rules for railroads. Regulators and watchdogs have sought for years improvements to a common tank car design shown to be susceptible to rupture when derailed, [...]

Amtrak’s future crucial to Rail Retirement financing

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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 [...]

Beware this backdoor effort to silence labor’s voice

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By National Legislative Director James Stem – You remember Humpty Dumpty, the character created by children’s author Lewis Carroll. Most famously, Humpty Dumpty said, ‘When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean.” Humpty Dumpty may well have written the language for Proposition 32, which goes before California voters on [...]

Coal vital to America’s energy future

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By James Stem, UTU National Legislative Director -  Coal is America’s most abundant source of energy, helping reduce our nation’s dependence on imported oil. Coal also means jobs, with almost one in every five freight rail jobs dependent on transporting coal. And coal means high-paying jobs for coal miners, power plant workers and the building trades, [...]