A message from IBT General President James P. Hoffa

Amtrak: An essential transportation mode

Amtrak is an essential transportation mode for thousands of people across the country. In some towns, Amtrak is the only way for people to get to major metropolitan areas, and the Amtrak lines have lessened highway traffic in many large cities. We are committed to seeking a long term funding solution for Amtrak, as opposed to the yearly struggles for survival funding we have experienced. Now with President Bush's zero-funding proposal, the future of Amtrak appears to be in greater jeopardy than ever. It is a shame that the White House is so out of touch with the needs of the general public. We deserve a safe, reliable and affordable way to reach major metropolitan areas, or even take vacations.

Our Amtrak members also deserve a good contract. As you know, for the past five years both your Amtrak BLET brothers and sisters and the members of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division have been working without a contract. This is due to the refusal of Amtrak's chief negotiator to bargain. We support the Transportation Trades Division's Amtrak task force and the work of our BLET/BMWED Amtrak task force in exploring ways to get negotiations moving again.

Engineers Cannot Be Replaced

We anticipate that the Federal Railroad Administration will issue a report about remote control locomotive operations in May. We oppose the use of remote control without the issuance of comprehensive rulemaking to insure the safety of this technology. The security of railyards and equipment is still woefully inadequate. Very few of our members have received first-responder training and trespassers access railway property daily. The current use of remote control has resulted in countless accidents and fatalities whether it is hauling hazardous materials or not. No type of technical device can replace the eyes and ears of trained locomotive engineers.

I recently appointed John Murphy as the director of the Teamsters Rail Conference. Brother Murphy, also a Teamsters International Vice President, spent countless hours at member meetings throughout the country in preparation for the BLET merger vote in 2003. He continues to provide leadership and direction as part of the Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition and he is committed to bringing Teamster unity, power and strength to all of our rail members.


In Solidarity,
James P. Hoffa
General President


© 2005 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen