BLET calls for added freight, passenger rail security
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters Rail Conference responded to a March 22 announcement by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to step up security in the passenger rail industry.
"It was but a small first step in providing for our nation's security," said James P. Hoffa, Teamsters General President. "Unfortunately, it underscores this Administration's failure to address the potentially greater threat posed by hazardous materials routed on rails through high target areas. The rail industry continues to put profits before security."
Since 9/11, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has focused on heightening security measures in the airline industry while entrusting rail security concerns to railroad companies. Left to their own initiatives, the rail industry has implemented cost-cutting measures that have replaced federally certified locomotive engineers with remote control technology and left the railroad infrastructure - including rail yards, tracks, bridges and trestles vulnerable.
"It is critical for the Department of Homeland Security to re-evaluate its plan for the security of our railroad system - both freight and passenger," said Don M. Hahs, National President of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), a division of the Teamsters Rail Conference. "Rail corporations have taken away the nation's first line of defense by reducing the number of trained professionals - our eyes and ears - off of locomotives."
The Department of Homeland Security's own strategic plan emphasizes employees - stating, 'Our most valuable asset is not new equipment or technology, but rather our dedicated and patriotic employees.' However, the agency has yet to devise or implement stringent security measures on the rail corporations.
© 2004 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen