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BLET lobbies Capitol Hill, regulatory agencies for crew member safety

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, March 15 — BLET officers and staff invested a lot of legwork lobbying for rail worker safety during the early part of March 2019. The BLET lobbying effort was led by National President Dennis R. Pierce and Vice President and National Legislative Representative John P. Tolman, with invaluable support for BLET Director of Regulatory Affairs Vince Verna and BLET Legislative and Political Director Bob Hagan.

On March 5, 6 and 7, they met with a dozen members of the U.S. House and Senate from both political parties, and held meetings with the heads of regulatory agencies, including Federal Railroad Administrator Ron Batory, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, and National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt and Member Jennifer Homendy. President Pierce also met with the heads of the National Carriers’ Conference Committee and the Association of American Railroads.

Key meetings were held with Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) Chief of Staff. The BLET delegation also met with: Congressman Bennie G. Thomson, Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, (D-MS); Congressman Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), the Assistant Speaker of the House; the staff of Congressman Rick Crawford (D-AR), ranking member on the Railroad Subcommittee; Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-IL); Congressman Don Young (R-AK); the staff of Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS); Congressman Stephen Lynch (D-MA); Congressman Sam Graves (R-MO); Congressman Joe Kennedy (D-MA); and Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA).

Among the topics discussed were NAFTA and protecting union jobs in the cross-border dispute involving Mexican train crews entering the United States; the need for two-person train crews to ensure the highest levels of rail safety; the need to implement Positive Train Control as a layer of safety protection and not as a job reduction or replacement tool; precision scheduled railroading and its detrimental impact on safety and jobs; the need for accurate crew line ups to combat train crew fatigue; and railroad safety in general.

“Our meetings with the members of Congress and their staff were encouraging and supportive of our point of view,” President Pierce said. “We will continue working with our friends in Congress across both political parties in order to best protect the rights and interests of our membership.”

Friday, March 15, 2019
bentley@ble-t.org

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