AFL-CIO groups tackle remote control safety issues
As this issue of the Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen News goes to press, 21 different AFL-CIO state federations have passed remote control safety resolutions.
The AFL-CIO and its subordinate bodies have continually demonstrated their support of the BLET and stand behind the organization in opposition to this dangerous practice.
In addition to the State Feds, five other AFL-CIO bodies have adopted similar resolutions.
Most recently, the Wyoming and Ohio State Federations and the Washington State Labor Council have passed remote control safety resolutions, thanks to the hard work of dedicated BLET members.
The Wyoming AFL-CIO became the 21st state federation to pass a remote control safety resolution on September 11. The resolution was passed at the state AFL-CIO convention.
BLET Wyoming State Legislative Board Chairman Terry R. Jones thanked BLET Division 115 (Cheyenne, Wyo.) Legislative Representative Joe Barrett and Division 103 (Cheyenne) Legislative Representative Charlie Fanning for their work. Brother Barrett introduced the resolution and Brother Fanning presented it to the convention.
On August 24, the Ohio AFL-CIO passed a hazmat resolution that calls for strict controls of automated train technology. Federation President William Burga confirmed the resolution's passage at the 24th Biennial AFL-CIO Ohio State Convention.
The 704 delegates in attendance unanimously passed Resolution 10: HAZMAT. These delegates represented 147 affiliated locals from 38 labor unions.
The Ohio AFL-CIO is the 20th State Federation to adopt a resolution that addresses remote control, but is the first to address new automation technology being developed by rail carriers and the Association of American Railroads. Resolution 10 also calls upon the FRA to require remote control protection zones to be used where remote control is operated.
Ohio State Legislative Chairman James F. Ong, Vice-Chairman Timothy R. Hanely, and Division 234 Legislative Representative Mike Goebel attended the convention.
Chairman Ong thanked Ohio AFL-CIO President Burga, Federation Secretary-Treasurer Pierrette M. Talley and the Delegates of the 24th Convention for their support.
Chairman Ong said that the resolution was drafted and proposed by Vice-Chairman Tim Hanely, who also serves as the delegate for BLET Division 36 (Newark, Ohio) to the Ohio AFL-CIO.
Hanely said that nationally, the AFL-CIO represents over 13 million sisters and brothers who share a common cause with the BLET.
"Safety in the workplace has to be our greatest concern, and operator safety was the inspiration behind Resolution 10," Hanely said. "We have hundreds of members who are paying too high of a price for rail carriers to make elevated profits."
Washington State Labor Council
The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, unanimously passed a "Safe and Secure Railroad Operations" resolution at the 2004 convention in Tacoma, Wash., on August 26.
The resolution calls for railroads operating within the state to use fully rested (by society's standard) railroad workers; locomotive engineers certified to the highest possible skill level to operate locomotives in all railroad operations; and demands that the Federal Railroad Administration promulgate rules to ensure railroad workers are not unnecessarily fatigued.
"I think it sends a strong message that organized labor is not going to stand by and let the railroads dictate the level of safety, training, and rest railroad workers require to safety perform their duties," said Dr. Mark Ricci, Chairman of the BLET's Washington State Legislative Board. "Railroad workers demand a higher level and the people of Washington State demand a higher level."
Ricci has spearheaded a campaign to secure a state-level regulation of remote control locomotive operations.
The passage of the AFL-CIO resolution follows on the heels of a similar resolution adopted last month by the King County Labor Council of Seattle, Wash. The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, represents over 400,000 union brothers and sisters throughout the state.
In addition to Wyoming, Ohio and Washington, the following AFL-CIO State Federations have take action to improve the safety of remote control locomotives: Arizona; Texas; Michigan; Nevada; North Carolina; Missouri; North Dakota; Nebraska; Wisconsin; Georgia; Illinois; Pennsylvania; Kentucky; Alabama; Iowa; West Virginia; Utah; Colorado; and Florida.
Four other AFL-CIO bodies have acted on the issue of remote control trains. They are: Harris County AFL-CIO (Texas); Toledo Area AFL-CIO Council (Ohio); Detroit Central Labor Council (CLC), AFL-CIO; Iowa Democratic Party; and the King County Labor Council, AFL-CIO, Seattle, Wash.
More information about remote control trains, and copies of the resolutions adopted by the organizations mentioned in this article, are available for download from the BLET website at: http://www.ble-t.org/remotecontrol .
© 2004 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen