April 27, 2015

Train-crew bill progressing in Washington state

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OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington’s Republican-controlled Senate could set a national precedent with a bill passed Monday night (March 9) that would require up to two railroad workers in the rear of trains carrying crude oil and other hazardous cargo. Currently, BNSF Railway, the largest freight hauler in Washington, is not required to carry rear brakeman [...]

Two-person rail crew bills introduced in Minnesota

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Two Minnesota lawmakers have introduced legislation in the state’s legislature that would require two persons on all Class I and II carrier freight trains operating in the state. State Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Dist. 61A) and State Sen. Ann H. Rest (DFL-Dist. 45) introduced H.F. 1166 and S.F. 918 introduced last month in the Minnesota House [...]

Rail worker safety bills marked up in Wash. state

Members of the SMART Transportation Division’s Washington State Legislative Board have been quite busy in recent weeks. Working with the board members and state emergency management officials, state senators and representatives of the Washington State Legislature Jan. 29 introduced six bills that could have a direct impact on Transportation Division-represented railroad employees and the safety [...]

SMART, BLET to seek two-person crew laws by state

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As part of a joint state-lobbying campaign to secure laws mandating a minimum of two crew members in the cab of all locomotives, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers have provided their state legislative boards with model [...]

Opinion: Rail lines should not compromise safety

The Associated Press article on railroads’ collective push to reduce freight train crews from two persons to one is informative yet fails to address the very real danger of equipment, mechanical or infrastructure failure. As a matter of record I am a 40-year railroad conductor and chaired my union’s state safety board for 16 years. [...]

Editorial: Do not reduce train crews to one

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With profit seemingly driving all business decisions, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the country’s major railroad companies are continuing their quest to reduce freight trains crews … to one person. Not surprising, but scary. The railroad bosses are united in their desire for this change, citing technological advances. Labor groups, those living on rail [...]

Ill. AFL-CIO approves two-person crew resolution

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The Illinois AFL-CIO has unanimously approved a resolution supporting SMART Transportation Division’s call for federal legislation mandating at least two crew members on all freight trains. The endorsement came at the organization’s 41st annual Constitutional Convention in Rosemont, Ill. Citing issues ranging from chronic crew-member fatigue to inadequate crew training to accident prevention and response, [...]

BNSF crew proposal was defeated by 5-1 margin

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Of 3,679 ballots returned, 3,056 were in opposition to the crew consist agreement. Nearly the same number of ballots cast were in opposition to a wage and rule settlement offered by the carrier. Under the proposal, engineers would have received a pay boost, and conductors would have been given the opportunity to become engineers. It [...]

End of line for railroad conductors? Not so fast

WASHINGTON — How many people does it take to safely operate a freight train? Two, say railroad labor unions, the Federal Railroad Administration and some members of Congress, arguing that having just one person in the cab of a locomotive was unsafe. They cite a series of deadly accidents involving trains with a solo engineer, [...]

Members defeat BNSF proposal to cut train crew size

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A tentative agreement to reduce train crew size on one of the nation’s largest rail carriers has failed, according to the labor union whose members voted on it this week. The pact would have eliminated on-board conductors on 60 percent of BNSF Railway, which spans the western two-thirds of the country. Read the complete story [...]