Houston, San Francisco pass remote control safety resolutions

List of communities askign FRA for enforceable remote control safety rules grows to 53

A total of 53 communities have enacted remote control safety resolutions, including Houston and San Francisco.

All resolutions call upon the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to enact enforceable regulations, as opposed to recommended guidelines, to make remote control operations safer.

The operation of remote control trains in the United States remains virtually unregulated. To date, the FRA has only issued recommended guidelines for remote control train operations. As opposed to federal regulations, which must be enforced, railroad companies often ignore the recommended guidelines in the day-to-day operation of remote control trains.

Most recently, the cities of Houston and San Francisco have passed remote control safety resolutions, in addition to San Francisco County. Thus far, 38 cities, 15 counties, and 16 AFL-CIO State Federations have enacted remote control safety resolutions.

Houston, Texas

On April 14, the Houston City Council passed a resolution opposing the use of remote control locomotives within its city limits.

BLET Texas State Legislative Board (TSLB) Chairman Terry Briggs said "Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States. I commend the Council members and the Mayor for adding this city's voice to the growing number of other communities who are concerned about the safety of their citizens who live, work and go to school near where remote control is in use. This is an important contribution to the process that, hopefully, will lead to regulation of remote control

"Getting this resolution has been a long, difficult process," he continued. "We first started the idea of a resolution in Houston more than 18 months ago when Gil Gore, General Chairman UP Southern Region, authorized then-Vice Chairman Rodney Stutes to work in conjunction with the Texas State Legislative Board on this project. We began a process of coalition building between members of the city council, other labor organizations, and community and civic groups. This process was primarily accomplished through the efforts of Herb Yambra, 2nd Vice Chairman, TSLB, and his wife Kathy, GIA Texas Legislative Representative, who worked with Brother Stutes until his untimely death in February of 2003. Since that time, Brother Herb and Sister Kathy have done the bulk of the work that was needed to get the resolution passed and they deserve the bulk of the credit.

"But we would be remiss if we did not recognize that this was a joint effort with many participants," Brother Briggs said. "Thanks must also go to Gil Gore and all his Vice Chairmen, including Dave Phillips. Bob Tramuto, Attorney for the law firm of Jones and Granger and Richard Shaw, Secretary-Treasurer of the Harris County AFL-CIO, both helped out immensely. Also, thanks go to Council Member Carol Alvarado, who carried the resolution for us."

Brother Briggs said that the supporters in Houston are too numerous to list, but the list includes all the participants and organizers of the rallies that raised public awareness of this issue, "especially all the BLET members who participated, and, therefore, assumed ownership of their Union's activities." Family members and GIA officers and members also participated and continue to be very supportive, he said.

Additionally, many local, state and federal elected officials, as well as community and civic groups showed their support of the resolution by calling or sending letters to the City Council.

"This could not have been done without all the cooperation, help and support of everyone in this coalition," he concluded. "In the end however, I think that those who knew him would agree that Brother Stutes is looking down in approval of the final outcome."

San Francisco (city and county)

The City of San Francisco adopted a resolution on March 16 opposing remote control locomotives and calling on the FRA to develop comprehensive guidelines to govern operation of the technology. The same resolution was adopted by the county of San Francisco.

According to BLET California State Legislative Board Chairman Tim Smith, the passage of the resolution was the result of hard work by two BLET Division 65 officers, Legislative Representative Sean Morgan and Local Chairman Martin Jaeger.

"These two BLET officers represent the interests primarily of Amtrak and Cal-Train," he said. "They are an example of how our Brotherhood should work. As the saying goes, 'One for All and All for One' ...our battles are the BLET's battles, to fight together."

Chairman Smith also thanked the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Supervisor Sophie Maxwell for passing the resolution.


In addition to San Francisco and Houston, 36 U.S. cities have adopted similar resolutions: Baton Rouge, La.; Detroit, Mich.; Shreveport, La.; Marysville, Mich.; Boston, Mass.; Cleveland, Ohio; Pine Bluff, Ark.; North Little Rock, Ark.; Beardstown, Ill.; Bakersfield, Calif.; Woodbridge, N.J.; Maple Heights, Ohio; Alliance, Neb.; Evansville, Ind.; Dupo, Ill.; Durand, Mich; Flat Rock, Mich.; Woodhaven, Mich.; Flint, Mich.; Sparks, Nev.; Commerce, Calif.; Clinton, Iowa; Montebello, Calif.; Saginaw, Mich.; Mankato, Minn.; Wamac, Ill.; St. Louis, Mo.; River Rouge, Mich.; Melvindale, Mich.; Redford Township, Mich.; Irvington, Ill.; Berwyn, Ill.; Allen Park, Mich.; Central City, Ill.; Carteret, N.J.; and Toledo, Ohio.

Also, 14 other counties have passed remote control resolutions. They are: Douglas County, Wisc.; West Baton Rouge Parish, La.; Point Coupee Parish, La.; Cuyahoga County, Ohio; Huron County, Ohio; Erie County, Ohio; Whitley County, Ky.; Unicoi County, Tenn.; Contra Costa County, Calif.; Knox County, Tenn.; Clinton County, Iowa; Harris County, Texas; Roanoke County, Va.; and Greenup County, Ky.

On the Web

A complete list of remote control safety resolutions is available at:




© 2004 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen