State, local AFL-CIO bodies take action on remote control

A total of 19 AFL-CIO State Federations have joined the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen in calling for enforceable federal regulations to ensure the safety of remote control train operations.

Most recently, the Colorado AFL-CIO and the Florida AFL-CIO have taken action in support of the BLET.

In addition to these state-level bodies, city and county level AFL-CIO organizations in Detroit, Seattle, and Toledo have also joined the fight for safe and secure remote control train operations in the United States.

Colorado AFL-CIO

The Colorado AFL-CIO Executive Committee unanimously passed a remote control safety resolution on June 18 after a presentation by BLET Colorado State Legislative Board Chairman George Last.

Chairman Last thanked Colorado AFL-CIO President Steve Adams and Teamsters Local 17 for their support and encouragement.

A PDF of the Colorado AFL-CIO resolution is available at:

Florida AFL-CIO

Cindy Hall, the President of the Florida State AFL-CIO, sent a letter to Acting Federal Railroad Administrator Betty Munro on July 1, asking for greater scrutiny of remote control operations and stricter regulations.

In her letter, President Hall cites several accidents in Florida that occurred when remote control technology was in use. She also cited the prevalence of hazardous materials in rail cars.

President Hall wrote the letter after David Lavery, Chairman of the BLET's Florida State Legislative Board, spoke before the Executive Committee of the Florida State AFL-CIO. After hearing Chairman Lavery's presentation, the Executive Committee voted overwhelmingly in favor of authorizing President Hall to write the FRA. Chairman Lavery later noted that several Chairmen of Teamster Central Labor Councils (CLC), who attended the Executive Committee meeting, also plan to send their own letters of concern to the FRA.

Hall asks Administrator Munro "to stand up for public safety and apply strict standards with regard to the data collection process of RCL operation."

The text of President Hall's letter is on the BLET website at:

Metro Detroit AFL-CIO

The Metropolitan Detroit Central Labor Council (CLC), AFL-CIO, passed a remote control safety resolution on June 16, which calls on the Federal Railroad Administration to reopen its remote control docket and study this issue further.

The organization, which has 200,000 members, called on the state of Michigan to prohibit the use of remote control technology until the FRA promulgates regulations regarding its use.

BLET Michigan State Legislative Board Chairman Greg Powell thanked BLET Division 920 (Pontiac, Mich.) for affiliating with the Metro Detroit CLC. Chairman Powell also thanked all the members of Division 920, Dave Butler, Local Chairman of Division 920; Russ Waltrip, President of Division 920; Donald Boggs, President of the Metro Detroit CLC; and all the members of the CLC Executive Board for their work on the resolution.

For a PDF of the Metropolitan Detroit resolution, visit:

King County Labor Council, AFL-CIO

On July 21, the King County Labor Council in Seattle, Wash., adopted a resolution calling for all railroads within county limits to use fully qualified and federally certified locomotive engineers to operate all locomotives.

Further, the King County Labor Council, AFL-CIO, called on the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission to move forward with proposed rulemaking - (CR-102) under Docket #TR-040151 - that would provide point protection for train movements, ensuring the safety of Washington State citizens.

Mike Elliott, First Vice-Chairman of the BLET's Washington State Legislative Board, recognized Will Amaya, Legislative Representative of BLET Division 518 (Seattle), for his efforts in securing passage of the resolution.

"This is a very significant development and we have Will Amaya to thank for his many hours of hard work in making the resolution a reality," Brother Elliott said. "Brother Amaya really made this whole thing happen. He drafted the resolution, lobbied for support and got our friends in labor to help get the resolution before the King County Labor Council for consideration. Thank you, King County Labor Council, and thank you, Will Amaya."

A copy of the resolution is at at:

Toledo Area AFL-CIO

The Toledo, Ohio, Area AFL-CIO Council recently passed a remote control safety resolution and asked the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to adopt enforceable Federal regulations that would ensure the safe operation of remote control trains.

The resolution calls upon the city of Toledo, Ohio, to prohibit the use of remote control locomotives until safety conditions are improved.

The letter, written by Toledo Area AFL-CIO Executive Secretary George Tucker, reads in part, "Therefore, we call on the Federal Railroad Administration to implement strict regulation, not guidelines that are openly flaunted."

Jim Ong, Chairman of the BLET's Ohio State Legislative Board, credited Tom Galloway for going above and beyond the call of duty on this safety effort. Brother Galloway is Legislative Representative of BLET Division 4 in Toledo. Brother Ong also thanked Executive Secretary Tucker, other members of the Toledo Area AFL-CIO Council, and everyone else involved for making the effort a success.

A copy of the Toledo AFL-CIO resolution is available at:

A copy of their letter to the FRA is available at:



© 2004 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen