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Teamsters support rail emergency training bill introduced by Rep. Lynch

(The International Brotherhood of Teamsters issued the following news release on December 9.)

WASHINGTON -- In response to a Teamsters' report warning that the nation's railways are still vulnerable to terrorist attacks and other emergencies, Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA) has introduced legislation that would establish a comprehensive emergency training program for all rail workers.

The Teamster Rail Conference report, "High Alert," detailed an appalling lack of emergency training for workers in this post 9-11 era. Workers overwhelmingly reported that they had not received terrorism response and prevention training in the past year.

"Rep. Lynch's bill makes significant strides to correct a bad situation," said John F. Murphy, director of the Teamsters Rail Conference. "Our members say that one of their biggest safety concerns is the lack of training for terrorist attacks and evacuations. Every day they see security breaches, such as trespassers in rail yards, yet there is no plan for how to handle these safety breaches or how to prevent them."

The Rail Worker Emergency Training Act of 2005 (H.R. 4372) would appropriate $100 million to establish comprehensive guidelines for a rail worker emergency training program that includes addressing key issues such as inspections of critical infrastructure and equipment, storage of hazardous material, emergency evacuation procedures and unauthorized access to rail yards and equipment. Rail carriers would be required to develop worker training programs based on the government's guidelines.

"Our members tell us they are unaware of their employers' plan for emergency situations," Murphy said. "The rail carriers say this security plan is so confidential that it must be kept a secret from Congress and the American people. If they had had a plan they would have at least turned it over to Congress. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that there is no plan."

"Our nation's railroad employees go to work lacking proper training to handle security issues," said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President. "They know that trains running through our communities haul dangerous materials that could cause thousands of deaths. A simple accident can cause mass casualties and a terrorist attack would be catastrophic."

There are significant threats to the public from unattended hazardous rail shipments, unsecured rail yards and employees' lack of emergency training, Murphy said.

"After 9-11, the need to tighten security in every facet of our country's transportation system SHOULD BE on the front burner," Murphy said. "We are on Capitol Hill urging lawmakers to support this rail legislation. The safety of the public and our rail members is a priority for us."

To view the Teamster Rail Conference report, "High Alert," please see the Rail Conference section of the web site http://www.teamster.org

To read Rep. Lynch's legislation, please see his web site at http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/ma09_lynch/RailWorkerTraining.html

Friday, December 9, 2005

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