BLET Auxiliary secures passage of remote control safety resolution
Thanks to lobbying by the BLET Auxiliary, Page County, Va., became the 63rd community in the United States to adopt a remote control safety resolution on January 16. Including Page County, 43 cities and 20 counties have enacted resolutions that call for the improved safety and security of remote control train operations.
Page County officials adopted the resolution unanimously, requesting the Federal Railroad Administration "develop comprehensive regulations for the use of remote controlled locomotives, and that those regulations ensure the highest level of skill and qualification of persons operating remote controlled locomotives."
Diane Shifflett, BLET Auxiliary Member at Large, spent more than a year working on the resolution. She worked with Carol Lee Fischer-Strickler, a member of the Page County Board of Supervisors, to educate Board members about the operation of remote control locomotives.
Fischer-Strickler, who herself came from a railroad family, said "after being contacted by constituents about the RCO situation, and the significance of the safe use of RCOs, I knew this was a resolution that needed to be passed."
She campaigns on the platform of "always put the people first," and because of the lack of mandatory safety regulations from the FRA, "this put the well being of my community and the railroad workers within it in danger," she said.
Danny Shifflett, Legislative Representative for BLET Division 217 (Shenandoah, Va.), also helped educate the Page County Board. Because of his work schedule, however, he was often unable to attend some meetings. He said he knew Diane was capable of carrying on in his absence and that he appreciated her efforts in securing passage of the resolution.
Diane, a 29-year-old mother of three, said she believes in doing what she can to make the railroad a safer place to work. "None of this would have been possible without Carol Lee, and I am very grateful for her help," she said.
She also thanked her husband Danny, who has been a BLET member for 10 years, and BLET Auxiliary National President Becky Schneider, whom she called a mentor in educating and providing information about remote control and other issues impacting railroaders.
Diane said her work is not finished, however. Plans are in the works to secure other resolutions in neighboring counties with the hope of eventually securing a statewide resolution in Virginia.
"Some may think that a member-at-large can't make a difference, but I think I have shown that we can," she said. "I hope more spouses will join the Auxiliary and form their own local auxiliaries so we can do even more. Our work is important in getting a safe working environment for railroad workers, and I believe we can never give up, even if we have to do some leg work alone."
The BLET Auxiliary is an organization of BLET spouses and family members who, among other things, actively provide support of issues that impact the health, safety, welfare and quality of life of railroaders. For details, visit: www.bletauxiliary.net.
© 2007 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen