AFL-CIO state federations enact remote control safety resolutions

In the past three months, six state labor federations have adopted safety resolutions that call upon local, state and federal officials to examine remote control train operations to make sure the technology is implemented in the safest manner possible.

AFL-CIO state federations in Arizona, Texas, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina and Missouri have all adopted similar resolutions since June 11. In addition to these six bodies, 36 communities (26 cities and 10 counties) throughout the United States have adopted similar remote control safety resolutions.

In general terms, the resolutions oppose the unregulated use of remote control locomotives. The resolutions also request that state officials, as well as the Federal Railroad Administration, examine remote control technology in the name of public safety.

Arizona AFL-CIO

The Arizona AFL-CIO became the first AFL-CIO body to adopt a resolution calling for more stringent safety practices in the implementation of remote control. The federation unanimously adopted the resolution on June 11.

The Arizona AFL-CIO cited the dangers of transporting hazardous materials and the lack of FRA oversight in remote control operations among its reasons for passing the resolution. It calls for the "Arizona Corporation Commission to prohibit the use of RCL technology in switching operations until such time as A thorough risk assessment study of RCL operations has been made and published by a third party."

The resolution also states that, "railroad companies have failed to adopt and/or enforce the operational practices most critical for employee and public safety" during hasty implementation of remote control operations."

Texas AFL-CIO

The Texas AFL-CIO has become the second state AFL-CIO affiliate to enact a remote control safety resolution, which was introduced on July 26.

The Texas AFL-CIO called for an examination of the implementation of remote control train operations and urged the state of Texas and the FRA to develop and adhere to comprehensive guidelines for remote control operations.

BLE Texas State Legislative Board Chairman Terry Briggs, along with members of his board, introduced the resolution. It noted that Texas leads the nation in the transportation of hazardous materials, including nuclear materials, and that these materials could endanger lives if released in an accident.

Michigan AFL-CIO

In mid-August, the Michigan AFL-CIO called for a halt of remote control train operations until enforceable federal regulations are in place.

The federation resolved that the state of Michigan ban remote control until it has been thoroughly studied and the FRA promulgate regulations regarding the technology.

Greg Powell, the BLE's Michigan State Legislative Board Chairman, was instrumental in the passage of the resolution. He thanked Michigan AFL-CIO President Mark Gaffney, Michigan AFL-CIO Lobbyist Ken Fletcher and the Michigan AFL-CIO Executive Board for passing the resolution.

Nevada AFL-CIO

Delegates attending the 47th annual Nevada AFL-CIO Convention passed a resolution calling for improved safety in the operation of remote control locomotives on August 26.

In unanimously adopting the resolution the Nevada AFL-CIO called upon the FRA to issue comprehensive guidelines for remote control operations.

Joe Carter, BLE Nevada State Legislative Board Chairman, thanked the delegates at the convention, especially Danny Thompson, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Nevada AFL-CIO, and Larry Wilson of the United Auto Workers, for their help in getting the resolution passed.

North Carolina AFL-CIO

Allies from different unions helped BLE delegates pass a remote control safety resolution at the North Carolina State AFL-CIO Convention. BLE submitted the resolution on September 5.

Members of the firefighters union and North Carolina State AFL-CIO President James Andrews were especially helpful in getting the resolution to the floor, according to BLE Division 435 (Hamlet, N.C.) Local Chairman Curtis Driggers. It passed unanimously.

Brother Driggers worked with Brother Wayne Fuller, Division 435 President and Legislative Representative, on the passage of the resolution. Together, they attended the convention and, with the help of President Andrews, got the resolution to the delegates.

"We also met several allies, including firefighters, who are very interested in helping us with this important public safety issue," said Brother Driggers.

Missouri AFL-CIO

The Missouri AFL-CIO passed a remote control safety resolution on September 8.

The Missouri resolution, which opposes the unregulated use of remote control locomotives, asks the FRA to promulgate regulations regarding the safe use of remote control.

BLE Missouri State Legislative Board Chairman Mickey Gage thanked Missouri AFL-CIO President Hugh McVey and Secretary-Treasurer Herb Johnson for their help in getting the resolution passed.

More Information

The full text of each resolution is available on the BLE website for download at:

<http://www.ble.org/remotecontrol/resolutions.asp>

 

© 2003 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers