A message from Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa

BLET making great strides

Rail Security and Safety A Priority Now in Congress

Over the past several weeks, representatives of the Teamsters Rail Conference have provided testimony at U.S. House committee hearings on rail security and emergency preparedness training. The newly elected Democrat majority in the House is making a concerted effort to hear the union side of the security story.

We've outlined the shortcomings of the current emergency preparedness training offered by the rail carriers at these hearings. Somehow the rail carriers thought that a brochure and a ten-minute video would suffice for good training for rail workers. We've known that their plans are far from adequate. In our "High Alert" report, we've shown the over 80 percent of the members surveyed said that they had not received any or additional emergency preparedness training since 9/11. Once our report was published, we made sure that every member of Congress received a copy and we have had to reprint the report several times due to the demand. Its content is the first, and only, employee-based survey in the rail industry.

Congressman James Oberstar (D-MN) introduced House bill 1269, the Rail and Transit Security Bill of 2007, which we fully support. This bill includes provisions for a security training program that will include live situational training exercises. When passed, this bill will mark a huge step in providing the quality emergency preparedness training that we have been advocating for.

Tentative Agreement for RLBC

In February, union negotiators with our Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition (RLBC) reached a tentative agreement with the National Carriers' Conference Committee (NCCC) representing the major freight rail corporations. Negotiating consistently for over two years, your negotiators did a fine job of securing a strong agreement. An historic agreement, this was the first time in more than 30 years that a coalition of rail unions was able to successfully reach agreement with the carriers.

Although the details are specific to each craft, overall the agreement will mean wage increases and controls on soaring health care cost sharing over the five-year term. In addition, the carriers agreed to withdraw all work rules proposals including those about train crew staffing/consolidation and contracting out of track maintenance production work.

Our goal was to achieve an agreement that recognized the dedicated hard work that our members perform on a daily basis. We believe that this agreement is true to that goal.


James P. Hoffa
General President



© 2007 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen