A message from Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa

Safety before profits?

Abuses of Work Schedules for Profit

The safety of the public and our members on the rails continues to be at risk, but we are going to battle in the halls of Congress. Recently, the House's Transportation and Infrastructure committee heard testimony from the BLET about the rail corporations' abuses of so-called "limbo time." This is another example of how the rail corporations view our members-without concern for their safety or the safety of the communities through which trains travel. Its also another example how Union Pacific, Burlington Northern Santa Fe and other rail corporations' one goal is profit. Profit before the safety of the people they employ.

Fatigue is a huge concern with many of today's rail crews. With the rail corporations constantly pressuring to slash crew sizes, our members are already overburdened with long hours and not enough rest time. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports that although pilots are flying up to 100 hours each month, some locomotive engineers are working over 400 hours. In addition, advance scheduling of freight runs is not often performed, leaving crews with too little rest time between runs.

One horrible example of the result of faulty scheduling is the 2004 accident that happened in Macdona, Texas. The NTSB recently decided that it was fatigue that caused that crash which killed three people, one of whom was Heath Pape, a BLET member.

Oman Free Trade Agreement

Recently the Oman Free Trade Agreement passed by the U.S. House of Representatives not only will continue our current job-killing, race-to-the-bottom trade model, but it jeopardizes our ability to secure our nation's ports.

The agreement gives Oman and foreign companies incorporated in Oman the right to own and operate important and sensitive infrastructure in the United States, including our ports. If such rules had been in place during the Dubai ports debacle, our government would have had to pay the Emir of Dubai tens of millions of U.S. tax dollars. Every single member of Congress who voted for the Oman agreement voted to sell out our nation's security.

Passage of the agreement also sends a message that it is OK to exploit workers for the benefit of multinationals and the Sultan, and that is not acceptable to the Teamsters. Labor and worker conditions in Oman are poor. Oman prohibits unions and collective bargaining while permitting forced labor and human trafficking.

We will continue to fight against the failed trade policies of the Bush administration. We will fight for trade agreements that are fair - and that means raising living standards and providing enforceable labor standards that protect workers, both here at home and abroad. The Oman agreement fails on all accounts and it is the American middle class that will continue to pay the price.

James P. Hoffa
General President



© 2006 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen