TTD resolutions cite FRA, rail security needs

The AFL-CIO's transportation leaders condemned the Federal Railroad Administration for being "asleep at the switch" and issued a call for improved transportation security during its winter board meeting held in Las Vegas during early March.

The AFL-CIO's Transportation Trades Department (TTD) unanimously adopted five policy statements, calling for greater transportation security; the defeat of a railroad industry-Bush administration proposal to silence rail workers; a re-write of laws governing the transport of hazardous materials; greater federal oversight of rail safety; and stopping the White House effort to kill Amtrak.

The meetings were held in conjunction with the AFL-CIO's Executive Council meetings. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and Secretary-Treasurer Rich Trumka addressed the TTD members, along with Representative Bob Filner (D-CA), Representative Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) and Senator Jon Corzine (D-NJ), who is also running for governor of New Jersey.

The 35 member-unions of the TTD also re-elected Edward W. Wytkind as President of the TTD and Michael A. Ingrao as Secretary-Treasurer.

The TTD strongly condemned the leadership of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for becoming "too cozy" with the rail corporations they are supposed to police. Leaders of the FRA have been "asleep at the switch" during a recent series of high-profile rail accidents. The FRA has come under intense fire from the Transportation Department's Inspector General and a series of articles in the New York Times, citing poor safety practices by the major railroads and weak oversight and enforcement by the FRA. These reports even question why a former FRA leader vacationed with an industry lobbyist whose railroad was under investigation by the FRA.

To address the FRA issue, the TTD is calling for a doubling of federal rail inspectors and is asking Congress to adopt a rail safety bill to curb an industry that, "has clearly proven incapable of policing itself." The TTD says that the "partnership" approach pursued by the FRA does not "replace the role of an independent federal regulator that keeps an arm's length from the industry it is supposed to regulate."

At a time of increased terrorist threats to the United States, the TTD is calling for improved transportation security. Currently, the Federal government has failed to adequately address gaps in the nation's transportation security network, the TTD charged, placing rail employees and the general public at risk. The TTD is asking for a significant increase in federal security aid for rail and transit systems, as well as for greater security training for workers. The TTD is also seeking expanded security for freight trains and rail yards, particularly those that transport hazardous chemicals.

In other business, the TTD recognized Sonny Hall, the recently retired president of the Transport Workers Union (TWU). The TTD passed a separate resolution honoring Brother Hall and naming him President Emeritus of the TTD.

"Nothing is more important than unity and solidarity, but never forget where you came from," President Emeritus Hall told the union presidents in attendance. "Think about your first day on the job and always remember it. The people holding those jobs today are the people you represent. They are the people you should never forget."

National President Don Hahs First Vice-President Ed Rodzwicz, National Secretary-Treasurer Bill Walpert, Vice-President & National Legislative Representative Raymond Holmes and Chief of Staff/Political & Legislative Director John Tolman represented the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen at the meetings.


© 2005 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen