Archive for the ‘Two-person crews’ Category

Two-person crew bills introduced in Michigan House and Senate

Legislators in Michigan introduced bills Dec. 2 in both the state House and Senate intended to keep freight rail operations on the state’s more than 3,600 miles of track running safely and efficiently.

H.B. 5596 and S.B. 767 require a crew of at least two qualified people in the operating locomotive of trains transporting cargo and hazardous materials in the state for public safety.

Roach

“It is vitally important to maintain the presence of two crew members in the locomotive,” said Don Roach, SMART Transportation Division Michigan state legislative director. “Despite any advances in technology, there is a safety factor called ‘the Rule of 2’ on the railroad. You have the engineer and the conductor in the cab, just like how airplanes have pilots and co-pilots. Right now, that’s being threatened by rail carriers who are looking to reduce costs and keep their profits high.”

“Each crew member has responsibilities and simultaneously performs duties in providing safe and efficient operation necessary with the longer trains railroads have been running. The crew members aboard are the first responders to a grade crossing collision, derailment or other emergency situation, and their reactions can mean the difference between life and death or a minor incident and a catastrophe.”

One real-life incident last year in the state drives the point home very well.

While a two-person crew of the conductor and engineer is the standard operating procedure on most freight traffic in the nation, a three-person crew, including two SMART-TD members out of Local 1709 in Pontiac, found themselves in the position where they saved a man’s life in November 2020 by applying a tourniquet after a moped rider’s legs amputated in a grade crossing accident.

This situation and many others that railroaders in Michigan encounter during the course of doing their jobs will be part of a campaign to raise awareness among the public and legislators about the necessity of keeping the standard of two people aboard, Roach said.

“The public safety of our communities is non-negotiable, and this legislation will help prevent potential accidents or derailments. The citizens of Michigan deserve to feel safer with two crew members in the cab in the trains that roll through their communities, day and night.

“The Rule of 2 matters and saves lives. A crew of two is safer for you,” Roach said.

Rep. Tim Sneller (D-Dist. 50) introduced H.B. 5596, which was co-sponsored by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. Jack O’Malley (R-Dist. 101) and:

  • Rep. John Cherry (D-Dist. 49)
  • Rep. Jim Ellison (D-Dist. 26)
  • Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Dist. 23)
  • Rep. Ranjeev Puri (D-Dist. 21)
  • Rep. Tullio Liberati (D-Dist. 13)
  • Rep. Terry Sabo (D-Dist. 92)
  • Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Dist. 53)
  • Rep. Lori Stone (D-Dist. 28)
  • Rep. Cara Clemente (D-Dist. 14)
  • Rep. Brenda Carter (D-Dist. 29)

The Senate bill was introduced concurrently by primary sponsor Sen. Erika Geiss (D.-Dist. 6).

Read the House bill.
Read the Senate bill.

PSR’s role in supply-chain problems ignored in Examiner piece

The takeaway from a Washington Examiner article published Nov. 16 regarding recent supply-chain snarls is that rail labor’s desire to maintain the current standard level of personnel — a certified conductor and a certified engineer — aboard the monster freight trains brought by the rail industry’s Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) scheme will make things worse and that President Joe Biden is making a mistake by advocating for two-person crews.

The article sadly attempts to use an operational supply-chain disaster caused, in part, by voluntary decisions made by the rail bosses who implemented PSR as an opportunity to continue to attack the people who work for the seven Class I railroads in the U.S. and those who support them in the political arena. The labor of these workers resulted in the regular achievement by the nation’s biggest railroads of combined net earnings in the billions each quarter, even as the operational challenges implemented by profiteering rail executives in the form of PSR and a global pandemic mounted.

Not coincidentally, rail labor leaders are engaged in negotiations on a revised national railroad contract. During this process, we happen to be doing what unions do — protecting people, such as the public and the workers who do the job of keeping the nation and its freight moving, from the worst tendencies of corporate behavior.

The Examiner article is another example of a carrier-friendly perspective being trotted out by people who know no better about what has been going on in the railroad industry since the advent of PSR. Using archaic terms such as “featherbedding”, the piece portrayed unionized workers seeking to maintain the safe operating procedures in the industry as blockades to progress and profitability.

But this current profitable period for executives, hedge funds and shareholders has come at a cost, as we’re learning. Now that the U.S. supply chain is experiencing degradation in the system that has drawn headlines and the attention of Washington policymakers, PSR’s cost to the worker should be examined as many railroaders’ careers have become casualties of the greed-fueled quest for higher returns.

Since the late E. Hunter Harrison brought PSR to CSX in 2017, Surface Transportation Board (STB) rail employment data indicate that overall Class I employment was slashed by nearly 34,000 jobs from 149,323 in March 2017 until the spring of 2021. Train and engine personnel employment has gone down by about 12,000 jobs from 59,191 in March 2017. That’s 12,000 fewer people to keep the trains running because the rail bosses figured that they could just make the trains longer with their PSR scheme, mothball equipment and furlough workers — do more with less.

Operating ratio (a key metric used by shareholders) went down, causing share prices to go up and Wall Street hedge funds to profit. But the workload for workers has increased exponentially.

Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) data cited by AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department President Greg Regan in his testimony Nov. 17 before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee show that approximately 7,200 employees voluntarily quit their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic even after RRB had adjusted for retirements. Regan also noted that rail workers were moving the same amount of freight earlier this year that was moved in 2019, even though there are fewer people to do the work. Something had to break with carriers’ draconian attendance policies and punitive conduct toward workers. It did for some former railroaders, who instead chose to walk away from pensions and their health coverage and take their lives in a different direction.

Now, with the current backlog of containers at ports, railroads are scrambling to fill the positions and saying that there is a shortage of workers. But it takes time to train new people to work on the railroad. Much institutional knowledge was lost, and railroads consistently are ranked among the worst places to work, making recruitment in a competitive job market even more difficult.

The reality is the “precision” on the part of carriers in implementing PSR is the equivalent of a meat cleaver slamming into a slab of meat on a deli counter. Rail yards and shops closed, locomotives sold and idled and workforce reductions made to the detriment of service. It’s why the STB got involved months after Harrison began converting CSX to PSR and why the board, even during the Trump administration, required the Class I U.S. rail carriers who chose to follow Harrison’s plunge into PSR to report to the board. Railroads have made themselves less capable of adapting to an influx of business and now the supply chain has snarled.

And, to note, the life of someone who works on the railroad labor remains far from “scheduled,” visions of 1800s station agents with big watches on a long chain aside. There are no set shifts — only time periods after a 12-hour-shift where a train crew cannot be called in to work.

And “railroading”? Well, railroads are doing everything in their power to keep those share prices trending upwards for their big investors — running two-, three-, four-mile-long trains that, when a mechanical breakdown happens, bisect communities and don’t fit current infrastructure.

These decisions are not being made by the people who show up day and night to keep America’s trains running. Carrier spokespersons will mention nothing about how PSR has had a role in contributing to the supply-chain crisis. They, like the rail bosses, see workers as tally marks, disposable impediments to profitability — costs to be controlled. They’ll also try to deflect the pursuit of safety into a political attack as in the piece published before the House hearing.

The fact is, cost control, as enticing as it may be from a purely economic perspective, is not the sole driver of productivity. Productivity is not the sole determinant of profitability. The Examiner article’s argument that rail labor and President Biden’s pledge to support the current standard of rail personnel might contribute to the supply-chain problems PSR has fueled is farcical.

At some point, from an industry perspective, rather than cutting through bone to increase billions in quarterly profits, carriers could look at the way they approach service, safety and technology, maintain the extraordinary value they receive through the current dedicated workforce and collaborate with the people who got them through a pandemic on matters of safety. Then together, we can achieve a more precise, on-time vision of rail transport that is safer, more sustainable and more profitable than before.

Pro-carrier “exclusive” attacks the Rule of 2

In anticipation of today’s House hearing on the U.S. supply chain, an “exclusive” pro-carrier piece in the Washington Examiner on freight crew size says that keeping two people on freight crews is making the problem worse, neglecting to mention the massive cuts in rail labor and workforce retention issues the carriers have created through Precision Scheduled Railroading that have contributed to the supply chain problem.

Read the article.

Unions file for injunctions against Norfolk Southern

CLEVELAND, Ohio (Oct. 28, 2021) — The SMART Transportation Division (SMART–TD) and Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) escalated their fight against Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) to stop the railroad from forcing locomotive engineers to work as conductors, and for disciplining those who don’t. The two unions each filed motions for preliminary injunctions yesterday against NS in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division.

SMART–TD seeks an injunction ordering NS to return to the status quo that existed prior to the dispute, which would require that the railroad use only SMART–TD-represented train service employees to fill jobs in those crafts and classes.

The BLET seeks an immediate injunction forbidding NS from forcing engineers to work as conductors, including disciplining members for failing or refusing to comply with directives to work as conductors, and requiring that NS immediately reinstate BLET members who were disciplined as a result of the dispute, expunging all discipline records, and making each engineer whole.

Following a hearing on the motions, the court will issue its decision. If the court grants the motions and issues the requested orders, any continued misconduct by the carrier could trigger a strike.

“This situation is identical to the September 2013 dispute that led to a BLET strike on the Wheeling and Lake Erie,” said SMART–TD President Jeremy R. Ferguson and BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce. “The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which also has jurisdiction here, held that the 2013 dispute was, indeed, a major dispute. Multiple ground employees on NS have sustained injuries in switching operations in recent weeks. We have made it clear to NS that forcing engineers to work ground assignments that they are not currently qualified on or familiar with is an invitation for more incidents. While NS’s current business model may accept responsibility for that risk to its employees, our Unions do not. We will do everything in our power to prevent that risk to our collective memberships. The General Chairmen, the assigned Vice Presidents and we thank our NS memberships for their continued strong support in this struggle.”

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The SMART Transportation Division is comprised of approximately 125,000 active and retired members of the former United Transportation Union, who work in a variety of crafts in the transportation industry.
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen represents nearly 57,000 professional locomotive engineers and trainmen throughout the United States. The BLET is the founding member of the Rail Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

N.J. SLD Sabol meets with DOT Secretary Buttigieg

 
New Jersey State Legislative Director Ron Sabol met with federal Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in Westfield, N.J., an encounter that was later featured in a video produced by the DOT and then shared on Buttigieg’s official Twitter account in conjunction with Labor Day on Sept. 6.

Sabol, of Local 1447 (Newark, N.J.), met Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., on Aug. 9 and discussed his career as a freight rail conductor, remote-control operator and as a SMART-TD union officer.

“I got involved in my union right away, and that’s because of safety,” Sabol told Buttigieg. “Railroading is the most dangerous job in the country.”

A member of the SMART-TD National Safety Team, N.J. SLD since December 2016, and also his local’s president, Sabol reminded the Transportation Secretary of something that sometimes is lost among the public.

“Our railroads and bus operators, which we represent as well, they’re first responders,” he said.

Sabol recalled the efforts made by TD members to help evacuate people in tunnels during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City.

“They’re heroes.”

Sabol also said that the passage of infrastructure legislation will improve with an expansion of service, better accessibility to riders and improved safety for a number of TD members.

“The best part of my job is being able to help people,” Sabol said. “As you the mayor were able to help all those people, I do it at a different level with a different group of people.”

Buttigieg’s Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration will be increasingly important as regulatory efforts develop to make the Rule of 2 — a certified conductor and certified engineer — enforced on freight trains throughout the United States.

The Biden administration announced earlier in the year that FRA is revisiting the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding freight train crew size and would be prioritized at some point in the autumn.

Senate bill benefits Amtrak, bus, transit members

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Senate today passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, its $1.2 trillion bipartisan legislation, by a 69-30 vote, sending the bill to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration and taking a step to end a substantial period of largely flat federal investment in the nation’s roads, rails and bridges.

The bill contains $786 billion to address a backlog of national infrastructure needs, $66 billion for Amtrak and $39 billion for public bus, transit and subway systems.

“This legislation marks the end of a long period of stagnation in the upper chamber of Congress when it comes to putting additional money into the nation’s infrastructure,” SMART Transportation Division National Legislative Director Greg Hynes said. “There was a lot of talk of Infrastructure Week and the like in prior years, but nothing ever was accomplished with the bills dying in the Senate. Now we see a strong effort to protect bus and transit workers to shield them from assaults and a major influx of money that will allow Amtrak to provide expanded service and help its national passenger service to flourish. These are very encouraging signs and the bill’s passage is a major win for our Amtrak, bus and transit members.”

Absent from the Senate bill was a two-person freight crew provision that was passed through the U.S. House of Representatives’ infrastructure bill known as the INVEST in America Act (H.R. 3684). Yardmaster hours of service, also in the INVEST Act, suffered the same fate.

The 10 bipartisan senators who authored the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act did not include those items when writing the more than 2,700 pages of the legislation, and no amendment adding a 2PC provision was introduced by senators as the bill was considered for passage. Only bipartisan amendments were considered during the amendment process, and no Republican senators offered to co-sponsor the two-person-crew or yardmaster hours of service items as an amendment.

This does not close the door on national two-person crew bill efforts with House leaders, including Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairperson Peter DeFazio, Railroad Subcommittee Chair Donald Payne and other supporters of rail safety, working to find a vehicle to get a legislative solution passed. Regulatory efforts via the federal Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration will be intensified.

“We ask that members continue to be loud and clear about rail safety and the importance of a certified conductor and certified engineer being in the cab to elected officials via phone call, letter, and email and also by raising public awareness on social media,” Hynes said. “We have come further than we ever have in getting national two-person crew legislation accomplished this cycle. The battle is not over, and there is much more to be done.”

NLD Hynes: Contact Congress to have Rule of 2 included in Senate infrastructure bill

You’ve probably heard in the news over the past few days that the U.S. Senate has agreed on a new bipartisan infrastructure package. This article is to provide facts, highlight the ongoing differences between the House’s infrastructure bill and the Senate’s infrastructure bill, show where we stand and what can be done to step up as we fight for public and worker safety and for the Rule of 2 — a certified conductor and engineer in the cab of freight locomotives.

  1. The bipartisan infrastructure bill is a product of the Senate, where a bill needs a simple majority to pass — that means 51 votes. However, unless a bill has 60 senators in solid support, it is vulnerable to a filibuster by any who oppose the bill and thus cannot pass. This bipartisan bill has been a big deal in the news because something is being done about the nation’s infrastructure as some senators from both parties came up with a bill by working together after a long, long period of partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill. Let’s remember that this Senate bill has only been in existence since last Sunday, Aug. 1 — about three days — and things can change quickly.
  2. While the news of this Senate bill is good in some ways because of its increased funding for Amtrak and transit and protections of bus members, the bill lacks the two-person crew provision that appeared in the INVEST in America Act that we worked to get passed by the U.S. House in July.
  3. The House gets a chance to make additions, subtractions, and changes to anything the Senate passes in what is known as the conference process. Be assured that our allies in the House will fight to have portions of their bill reinstated that were left out of this Senate bill, but, as it was when we first passed two-person crew legislation out of the House in 2020, the divided Senate remains an obstacle. Already, we have come farther than we did last year, and this is thanks to involvement from our membership as well as how we improved conditions for success in November 2020.
  4. So the door is NOT CLOSED on a legislative solution from Congress coming through with this bill. A senator could amend the bill to add the two-person crew provision before a vote. The conference process also takes time, and we have strong allies in the U.S. House in Transportation Chairman Peter DeFazio and Rail Subcommittee Chairman Donald Payne who worked to get the 2PC provision in the INVEST Act both times it passed the House. But it’s not DeFazio, Payne or the U.S. representatives who already voted in favor of the INVEST Act’s two-person crew provisions that we need to convince. Republican senators who helped to craft the “bipartisan” Senate bill didn’t include the provision in accordance with the wishes of their railroad industry allies.

So what can you do to help?

We need to be loud and persistent. We need all of you to help. With the work being done right now in Washington D.C. on the legislative, and later this year, on the regulatory channel, now is the time to mobilize across the nation to step up and get the Rule of 2 across the finish line. Red state, blue state, purple state, north, south, east and west. We need to call. We need to email. Share the image above on social media. We need to explain to people in Congress, especially senators:

  • That public and worker safety is non-negotiable. That lives have been saved because of the presence and combined actions of a conductor and engineer working together. That the people in the freight locomotive provide the same safety functions and duties as a pilot and co-pilot on an airliner. By disregarding the 2PC provision, American lives are going to be endangered.
  • That the two-person crew component within the original INVEST in America Act MUST be included as the Senate considers this bill. Anything less ignores rail worker safety and community safety, jeopardizes jobs and lets the railroads and their profiteering Wall Street masters dictate what they say is safe rather than what we KNOW is safe.

We have resources such as the LAC set up to message people. There are grassroots networks such as the Fight for Two Person Crews group on social media who can provide collective strength. We need to stand up and not be silent waiting for other people to do the work as we embark upon both the legislative and the regulatory paths to make the Rule of 2 the law of the land.

Keep in mind that second path — the regulatory one — to secure the Rule of 2 is via the Federal Railroad Administration where the agency would promulgate a rule establishing a minimum crew size. Under President Biden, FRA has announced that a reopening of examining a rule concerning crew size would be a priority of the agency this autumn as it attempts to fill the regulatory vacuum that was created under the prior administration.

More about that will be shared as time goes on, but we are farther along the legislative path than we ever have been. We need to use our collective voices to get our message out to Congress.

Let’s continue to persist, step up, go forward and get the word out to Congress. Please get in touch with your senators and talk about the Rule of 2.

In solidarity,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greg Hynes
National Legislative Director — SMART-TD

Arbitrator finds that Section 6 bargaining regarding crew consist can begin

On July 28, 2021, a Neutral appointed by the National Mediation Board issued his ruling finding that on certain railroad properties, the current moratoria in those crew consist agreements do not prohibit the railroads from serving a Section 6 Notice regarding crew size. The properties affected or having no current moratorium include certain properties at BNSF, UP, NS and CN Railroads. Other properties not currently affected or involved may also be included in the future as moratoriums naturally expire. Please contact your local chairperson or general chairperson for specific details regarding your terminal or district.

The ruling comes after a nearly two-year battle between SMART-TD and the National Railway Labor Conference over the moratoria provisions and their effect. The arbitration was one of the largest conducted by SMART-TD and its predecessor union, UTU, in decades.

The ruling does not eliminate any current crew consist provision or requirement. The only thing it does is to open the door for bargaining to occur. The moratoria that previously prevented any mandatory bargaining on crew consist were predicated on the last remaining employees having hired on the railroad previous to the 1980’s. Today, less than 100 of these employees remain nationwide, and most are at, or near retirement age. 

Once a Section 6 is served, the Railway Labor Act requires both parties to engage in mandatory bargaining. The Act, however, does not mandate any particular outcome in such negotiations, it merely provides a process. In the event parties reach an impasse, the Act contains methods to avoid disruption to commerce through mandatory mediation and possibly intervention from the President of the United States and the U.S. Congress.

SMART-TD remains committed to protecting the jobs of today, as well as securing the jobs of the future. While only some General Committees will be involved in bargaining, the full support and effort of the International in assisting those Committees will continue.

DeFazio on PSR: ‘Wall Street’s goal is to get wealthier — no matter the impact’

U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, responded to a recent Fortune Magazine column by a pair of economists who defended the rail industry’s Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) scheme and accused unions of hampering productivity.

DeFazio

DeFazio, along with New Jersey Rep. Donald Payne Jr., who is chairman of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials, were two of the main architects of the INVEST in America Act (H.R. 3684), a surface transportation reauthorization bill that encompasses substantial investment in the nation’s infrastructure as well as in the safety of the people who keep the country moving that passed the U.S. House on July 1.

“PSR is not some fancy optimization strategy to increase freight volume or improve operations and reduce emissions; rather, it is a business strategy promoted by Wall Street to boost short-term profits,” DeFazio wrote.

He noted in his column that shippers, communities and the rail workforce all have been negatively affected by PSR.

“Let’s not forget that prior to COVID-19, from 2015 to 2019, the freight railroad industry slashed the average size of its workforce by over 17%,” DeFazio wrote. “It’s little wonder that STB Chairman Martin Oberman has sought information about how such a reduction may be related to or contributed to recent shipper complaints.”

Read DeFazio’s full column.

The INVEST in America Act looks to protect bus and transit workers from assault, improve school bus safety and maintain safe freight rail operations. It contains increased funding for Amtrak passenger rail service and protects the environment, the public and rail workers alike by putting into law the Rule of 2 — that, like a pilot and co-pilot in the air — a certified engineer and a certified conductor remain present in the cab of freight trains when operated through the nation’s communities.

The bill is under consideration by the U.S. Senate, and SMART-TD members are encouraged to send messages to their senators to pass H.R. 3684 for the sake of public and worker safety.

Timebook suggestions sought

Members have been able to spend half a year now with the 2021 SMART-TD bus and rail timebooks that were revised last year with membersʼ input.

Weʼre sure there are things you like about the revisions and things that you would want to have changed about the timebooks so they are of the best use to you.

Now through August is your chance to make suggestions for any changes or improvements to the books with mid-September the deadline for local officers to place their orders for the 2022 edition.

Please send improvement suggestions in to Dora Wolf in the Updating Department at dwolf@smart-union.org.

SMART-TD arbitrates crew-consist dispute

On June 15 and 16, 2021, the simmering dispute between the SMART Transportation Division and carriers over crew consist finally reached arbitration before neutral party John LaRocca in Sacramento, Calif.

Class I railroads BNSF, UP, NS and KCS initiated a claim in October 2019, just prior to the opening of the current round of national contract handling, that asserted the moratorium provisions of various local agreements no longer barred the service of a Section 6 notice regarding the topic of crew consist.

At the arbitration, 13 SMART-TD General Committees presented their arguments against the National Railroad Labor Conference (NRLC), which represented the railroads involved.

The arbitration hearing was a result of a long court battle in which it was determined that the question of whether the moratorium language in the various agreements barred serving a notice was a “minor dispute” within the meaning of the Railway Labor Act and would have to be arbitrated.

The moratoriums were a result of negotiations in the late 1970s and early 1980s when the parties involved decided to lay to rest negotiations over crew consist until the last covered employee voluntarily separated. Despite the fact that the event has not occurred, the carriers have taken the position that the language of the moratoriums cannot be read to now bar negotiation over crew consist.

The railroads are seeking to bypass the agreed-upon wait time that bars such negotiation and to seek crew size changes now. SMART-TD argued that the language and intent of the moratoriums clearly bars any negotiation on crew consist until the last person standing is gone.

The arbitration was the largest conducted by the union in decades and was presented by a combined team of the SMART-TD International, SMART-TD Legal Department and multiple General Committees. A decision on the issue is expected by September 2021.

A ruling by LaRocca in favor of SMART-TD would leave current crew-consist agreements closed from negotiations until the expiration of the moratoriums. A ruling by LaRocca in favor of the carriers would open these agreements up for negotiation on the respective properties as the current round of national contract discussions continues.

TD leaders praise House passage of INVEST Act

CLEVELAND, Ohio (July 1, 2021) — SMART Transportation Division leaders expressed their appreciation as the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act (H.R. 3684) successfully passed out of the U.S. House of Representatives, 221-201, on July 1 with two-person crew and other transportation safety provisions important to TD members remaining intact.

“This bill is a great step ahead for the country as it works to repair years of inattention given to the country’s infrastructure,” SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy R. Ferguson said. “The INVEST Act also pays heed to many safety concerns expressed by labor — the essential workers who helped move our nation through the COVID pandemic — bus operators, freight rail workers and transit workers. We thank Peter DeFazio, Donald Payne and all those in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee who spurred H.R. 3684 to passage in the full House, and we now look ahead to consideration in the Senate and beyond.”

The INVEST Act is a surface transportation reauthorization bill that encompasses substantial investment in the nation’s infrastructure as well as in the safety of the people who keep the country moving. H.R. 3684’s components look to protect bus and transit workers from assault, improve school bus safety and maintain safe freight rail operations. It contains increased funding for Amtrak passenger rail service and protects the environment, the public and rail workers alike by putting into law the Rule of 2 — that, like a pilot and co-pilot in the air — a certified engineer and a certified conductor remain present in the cab of freight trains when operated through the nation’s communities.

“We’re very pleased that the House has wisely moved ahead today on the legislative path to ensuring that rail safety’s Rule of 2 is maintained with the INVEST in America Act, and that the bus safety provisions, Amtrak funding and other rail safety components stay in the bill,” SMART-TD National Legislative Director Greg Hynes said. “Now, similar to last year, the time has come to make it crystal clear to senators who might be on the fence that the safety aspects within this bill are not up for negotiation.”

“We truly thank and appreciate those legislators who supported the INVEST Act in its journey through the House and who listened to what we had to say,” Ferguson said. “There is more work to be done and a path to be cleared for this legislation in the Senate, and the members and officers of our union are ready to put in the time.”

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The SMART Transportation Division is comprised of approximately 125,000 active and retired members of the former United Transportation Union, who work in a variety of different crafts, including as bus and commuter rail operators, in the transportation industry.