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Members of Congress demand FRA, FTA act to protect rail workers during COVID-19 pandemic

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, April 8 — A bipartisan group of U.S. Representatives has sent a letter to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) demanding that the agencies adopt health and safety recommendations made by organized labor to better protect rail and transit workers from the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

The group of seven Democrats and seven Republicans wrote a letter to FRA Administrator Ron Batory and FRA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams on April 2, which reads in part: “As our nation continues to respond to the urgent crisis with COVID-19, it is imperative the Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Transit Administration protect the health and safety needs of our frontline transit and rail workers. Our transit and rail workers are essential to the health, safety, security and transport of people within and between our communities along with the transport of critical goods and freight across the country. It is important that steps are taken to mitigate against the spread of the virus within the workforce, minimize exposure while workers are performing their duties, and ensure sufficient staffing.”

The legislators urged the FRA and FTA to consider the recommendations of organized labor for worker protections and sanitation standards to protect workers against the virus. On March 20, the BLET and SMART-TD filed a joint request urging the FRA to issue Emergency Orders (EO) to address employee safety conditions in response to the national COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, as well as for the FRA to implement an action plan to help address the potential spread of the coronavirus among rail workers using protocols established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

To date, the FRA has not responded to the BLET/SMART-TD request.

A copy of the April 2 Congressional letter to the FRA is available on the BLET website (PDF).

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

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