BLET backs new rail security bill introduced in Senate
On January 4, U.S. Senators Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), along with 11 other cosponsors introduced S.184, the Surface Transportation and Rail Security Act of 2007 (STARS Act).
The legislation contains the rail security provisions originally included in the 109th Congress' Senate-passed version of the SAFE Port Act. This rail security package is an updated version of the Rail Security Act of 2004 and the Rail Security Act of 2005, which the Commerce Committee and the Senate approved unanimously in the 108th and 109th Congresses.
The bill would require the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to conduct a railroad sector risk assessment and submit prioritized recommendations for improving rail security.
The bill would require railroads to create a railroad worker security-training program and to provide whistle-blower protection for rail workers who report security concerns.
The employee training is one of the BLET's most sought after security provisions. Throughout the country, railroad workers have established their employers provide little or no specific training for terrorism prevention or emergency response.
"Worker training is critical because railroad workers are the 'eyes and ears' of the industry and are the first line of defense in the event of a terrorist attack on a freight train or passenger train," BLET Vice President and National Legislative Representative John Tolman said.
Whistleblower protections are yet another key inclusion in the bill. The Rail Conference and rail labor has long maintained that whistleblower protections are a cornerstone of any security bill. The bill forbids discrimination against employees who: provide information to the carrier or the Federal government relating to a perceived security threat; has testified or is about to testify before Congress or at any Federal or state proceeding about a perceived threat to security; or refuses to violate or assist in the violation of any law, rule or regulation related to rail security.
© 2007 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen