TTD resolution calls for an end to remote control

The Executive Committee of the AFL-CIO's Transportation Trades Department unanimously approved a policy resolution on March 7 that calls for an end to remote control train operations.

"It should now be clear, if there was any doubt, that remote control locomotives are dangerous and must be regulated or eliminated," the TTD resolution states.

"Rail safety standards will not fall victim to corporate shortcuts," said James P. Hoffa, Teamsters General President. "We will continue to fight on behalf of safe locomotive operations for all workers."

The resolution is highly critical of the Federal Railroad Administration for its "foot dragging" and failure to develop enforceable safety regulations. So far, the FRA has only issued "recommended minimum guidelines."

According to the TTD resolution, "The problem is that these guidelines, as the name suggests, do not actually require carriers to adopt all the necessary safety procedures and in general do not go far enough to ensure that this technology is implemented and utilized safely."

Don Hahs, National President of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), an affiliate of the Teamsters Rail Conference, applauded the resolution.

"The safety of all railroad workers should be Priority One. But that priority is difficult to achieve with 'minimum guidelines,'" President Hahs said. "I applaud the TTD for its actions. It's time someone stood up for these workers instead of meekly giving in to every carrier demand."

According to the TTD, the FRA refused to act on the issue until prompted by Congressional action. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain and Ranking Democrat Ernest Hollings have asked the FRA to conduct a thorough safety audit of remote control locomotives.

"The direct interest and involvement of the Senate Commerce Committee has already forced the FRA to take another look at RCLs and we hope that this time the agency will address the problems that transportation labor - led by the BLET and the Teamsters - has long identified," the resolution states.

The TTD, BLET and Teamsters, however, are already skeptical of the audit. The FRA's reliance on self-reporting of accidents by railroad companies could yield questionable results.

"It is well known that self reporting of accident/incident data by railroads has been problematic," the TTD resolution states.

For example, self-reporting gives railroad companies too much leeway in determining what accidents are reported, and the ambiguity of current reporting guidelines will not permit conclusive findings.

In addition, under current reporting guidelines, specific accident and incident reports can be modified by the railroads even after the safety audit is conducted by FRA and the initial report is given to Congress.

TTD represents 35 member unions in the aviation, rail, transit, trucking, highway, longshore, maritime and related industries.

A copy of the resolution is available on the BLET website at:


© 2004 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen