Capitol Briefs, Page 2 -- Turn to Page 3


BLE hosts Russian engineer

The BLE Colorado State Legislative Board played host to a delegate from a Russian locomotive engineers' union and gave him a tour of an American freight yard last December.

Pictured here, from left, is Igor Maksimov of the Russian Locomotive Brigade Union, and George Last, Chairman of the BLE Colorado State Legislative Board.

Thanks to Brother Last, Maksimov toured the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe yards in Denver and boarded several locomotives during his trip to the U.S. With the help of an interpreter, Brothers Last and Maksimov discussed collective bargaining agreements, railroad safety, and various work rules. They also swapped railroad stories.

Engineer Maksimov was part of a larger delegation of Russians representing various transportation industries who toured the U.S. this winter. The tour was arranged through the AFL-CIO.


STB goes on-line

The Surface Transportation Board has activated its own web-site in which a variety of useful information is made available electronically. The STB's home page provides access to STB decisions, news releases and speeches, annual finance data, quarterly earnings reports and depreciation information for Class I railroads.

Detailed information on the Conrail acquisition is also available, including current environmental information on the proposed acquisition breakup. The STB web-site is:

http://www.stb.dot.gov


ISTEA funding gets short-term fix

Congress agreed on a short-term fix that will keep highway, mass transit and highway safety funds flowing to the states through next spring. The short-term ISTEA extension reauthorizes these programs through May 1, 1998, and advances new budget authority to the states. This action temporarily solves the problem caused when the current ISTEA bill expired at the end of September and postpones the need for action on the substantive issues in ISTEA reauthorization.

The Senate Commerce Committee approved a package of amendments to the ISTEA II bill, including one to establish a six-year program of grants for light density rail line infrastructure projects, culminating in a study by the Secretary of Transportation of the role of rail in federal transportation funding programs. Senators Gordon (R-WA) and Wyden (D-OR) are sponsors of the provision which will authorize spending $10 million per year. The provision will be part of the package when the ISTEA reauthorization bill is considered next year.


Critical incident stress legislation introduced

Indiana State Legislative Board Chairman Bill Verdeyen testified in favor of new legislation, H.B. 1127, that will provide critical stress debriefing to engine crews involved in accidents. Verdeyen reports that his testimony was well-received.


FRA issues drug/ alcohol policy changes

FRA has issued a final rule which contains technical amendments to the Drug/Alcohol (49 CFR Part 219) and Engineer Qualifications (49 CFR Part 240) regulations. Most of the changes are administrative, and conform the FRA's Drug/Alcohol testing requirements to the U.S. DOT Part 40 requirements.

Some key changes are to prohibit pre-employment alcohol testing, to require railroads to notify the "National Response Center" in addition to FRA, to prohibit blood alcohol testing, and to limit "shy bladder" testing to the Hours of Service time limits.


CABT established

The Coalition Against Bigger Trucks, or CABT, is a national grass roots coalition with a single mission of stopping truck size and weight increases. With grass roots organizers covering 28 states and over 1,000 state organizations, CABT has established itself as a strong and successful coalition.

In preparation for an intensive 1998 legislative debate on bigger and heavier trucks, CABT organizers will be reaching into new communities during the next few months in an effort to build awareness and generate support. Contacts within your community and state are a valuable resource to CABT and they would greatly appreciate any support you can offer.


Free hazmat training offered

CLEVELAND, Feb. 10 -- The George Meany Center for Labor Studies will conduct four four-day hazardous waste/chemical emergency response training programs at the Center's campus in Silver Spring, Md., BLE President Clarence Monin announced today.

These programs are free and participants are selected on a first-come, first-served basis. Space is limited to 25 participants per program.

Programs are scheduled for April 26-30, July 19-23, August 2-6, and August 16-20.

The programs will address the required procedures and different levels of response and worker protection needed in case of a hazardous materials release. Training also includes advanced classroom instruction as well as intensive hands-on drills, including a simulated hazmat response in full safety gear.

Grants will pay for transportation, lodging and meals, as well as a stipend of $107 per day for the four days of training.

Each year, the Meany Center is required to justify their funding by training a minimum number of participants. Last year, there were several last-minute cancellations and it was difficult to find replacements. Therefore, cancellations are accepted in emergency situations only.

If you are interested, contact Betty Child of the BLE Washington D.C. office at: (202) 347-7936, extension 11, or e-mail: <bledc@aol.com>.

 

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