BLE PAC pins have arrived
BLE members who contribute to the BLE-PAC fund should have received their lapel pins as this issue of the Newsletter goes to press.
The pins are given to members who contribute to at a minimum of $60 per year.
Those who have not yet received their pins should contact the BLE's National Legislative Office by phone at (202) 347 7936 or via the Internet at: <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
The BLE thanks all PAC contributors!
Nevada gets State Legislative Board
BLE members in the state of Nevada officially established a State Legislative Board on July 12.
Congratulations to Brother T.J. "Joe" Carter, who was elected Chairman by acclamation.
In attendance at the meeting were Brothers Mike Muscha, Regional Chairman, and Doug Horstman, Oregon State Legislative Board Chairman.
Brother Carter expressed appreciation and thanks to those Boards who made financial contributions to assist in establishing the Nevada Board.
BLE International President Edward Dubroski offered congratulations to Brother Carter and to all BLE members in Nevada.
"All railroaders in the state of Nevada will benefit by having a strong BLE voice in the state capital," Dubroski said.
BLE members in Nevada wishing to get in touch with their new State Legislative Board Chairman can contact:
Rutter confirmed FRA Administrator
U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta on August 3 welcomed Allan Rutter to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) as the Senate confirmed him as Federal Railroad Administrator.
"I'm excited about Allan joining our team here at DOT. His comprehensive knowledge of transportation and his extensive background in rail policy will be invaluable in achieving the Department's strategic goals and in meeting the challenge of improving the nation's railroad system," said Secretary Mineta.
Rutter has been involved in transportation policy for the past 18 years and served President Bush in Texas as Director of Transportation Policy. Before joining then-Governor Bush in 1995, Rutter was Deputy Executive Director of the Texas High-Speed Rail Authority. From 1982 to 1990, Rutter served Texas Governors Bill Clements and Mark White, and worked for the Texas House Transportation Committee. Most recently, Rutter developed transportation policy for Texas governor Rick Perry.
As FRA administrator, Rutter will lead the regulatory and enforcement agency responsible for promoting safe and successful railroad transportation within the United States, and work to advance the policies of the Bush Administration regarding freight and passenger rail.
Rutter earned a master of public affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and his bachelor's degree from the University of Texas at Austin. He and his wife, Melanie, and their two daughters, Sarah and Elizabeth will reside in Manassas, Va.
Rail accidents at 10-year low
On August 2, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) released its monthly Transportation Indicators report showing that rail accidents and incidents reached a 10-year low in April 2001, more than 6 percent below the number for April 2000.
The BTS report is a monthly update of critical transportation information that details the impact of transportation on the nation's economy and society.
The monthly report, which is available at www.bts.gov, provides information to address specific transportation issues and to assist in the effort led by BTS to make transportation information more accurate, reliable, and timely. Updated reports will be available on the BTS website the fourth week of every month.
UP cuts fatigue rules, extra boards
The Union Pacific Railroad has ended 18-month-old safety measures designed to ease fatigue for extra board locomotive engineers along its 33,000-mile system.
The rail company ended work-rest agreements that had given some extra board engineers guaranteed days off. The company also eliminated 300 jobs for additional back-up engineers - back-up substitutes - whose work had made the guaranteed days off possible. UP says those engineers have been transferred to other jobs.
To curb costs, UP eliminated some work-rest agreements between itself and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. Those agreements were implemented two years ago after a series of fatal train wrecks. The railroad said its decision would have no impact on safety and was an option it had always preserved.
The BLE, however, says that the changes will result in engineers working while tired and will compromise safety. It also says engineers' quality of life will suffer.
General Chairman Mike Young of Cheyenne, UP-Eastern District, said engineers fear the loss of guaranteed days off will increase worker fatigue. That could lead to more train accidents and possibly injuries or deaths, he said.
"We're not very happy," he said. "We thought they were good agreements."
BNSF may have violated fedeeral law
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has found that the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad may have violated federal law in performing genetic tests on employees without their knowledge.
The EEOC said in a July 10 letter to a BNSF employee that an investigation had found four violations of federal law by the railroad in conducting the genetic tests.
In its letter, the EEOC alleges that BNSF acted "with malice or reckless disregard for employees' rights."
In a major victory for organized labor and workers' rights, the BNSF settled a lawsuit filed by the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes to stop the coercive genetic testing of its employees.
The BMWE filed suit on February 9 against BNSF and Athena Diagnostics, and was soon joined by the BLE, seeking "to remedy the illegal, compulsory regime of genetic testing of injured employees" by the BNSF.
In the April 6 settlement, BNSF agreed to terminate all genetic testing of employees represented by BMWE and BLE. BNSF also agreed to destroy all blood samples and records of testing previously done (when authorized by the affected individuals), confirming the status of the destruction to the BMWE and BLE, and agreed not to discipline any employee for failure to comply with requests for medical information in connection with previously conducted tests.
© 2001 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers