Posts Tagged ‘H.R. 1763’

SMART TD announces introduction of two-person train crew legislation

Rep. Young

Washington, D.C. (Jan. 17, 2017) – SMART Transportation Division announced the re-introduction of the Safe Freight Act (H.R. 233) by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) and former Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, which would require two crew members — one certified locomotive engineer and one certified conductor — on all freight trains.

H.R. 233  would require that “no freight train or light engine used in connection with the movement of freight may be operated unless it has a crew consisting of at least two individuals, one of whom is certified under regulations promulgated by the Federal Railroad Administration as a locomotive engineer pursuant to section 20135, and the other of whom is certified under regulations promulgated by the Federal Railroad Administration as a conductor pursuant to section 20163.” The newly-introduced legislation mirrors H.R. 1763, which received 69 bipartisan co-sponsors last year prior to conclusion of the 114th Congress. A copy of H.R. 1763 can be found here.

“SMART Transportation Division has been working tirelessly to promote safety in the railroad industry. There is no doubt that the safest rail operation is a two-person crew operation. After several major train derailments, we must send a clear message to our lawmakers and the general public that multi-person crews are essential to ensuring the safest rail operations possible in their communities. I would like to thank Congressman Young for his leadership on this critical issue as we continue improve safety on our nation’s railroads for both our members and the general public,” said SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich.

Last year, SMART Transportation Division repeatedly urged the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to finalize a rule requiring two-person minimum crews on trains. On June 15, 2016, SMART TD submitted comments in response to the FRA initial proposed rule. On August 5, 2016, SMART TD submitted additional comments expressing concerns about potential loopholes that would allow the operation of certain trains with fewer than two people.

Last July, SMART TD National Legislative Director John Risch testified before the FRA outlining the justification for a minimum two-person crew requirement. A copy of his testimony can be found here.

Visit our Legislative Action Center and ask your representatives to support H.R. 233.

Members make all the difference!

Dear  Member:

Recently, Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas – one of the most conservative members of the U.S. House of Representatives – cosponsored our two-person crew legislation, H.R. 1763, the Safe Freight Act. This show of support follows cosponsorship from Congressman Trent Franks of Arizona, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Both are considered among the most conservative members of Congress.

Why did Rep. Gohmert sign onto the bill? The simple answer is that one of our members asked him to. General Chairperson Steve Simpson’s office is located near Rep. Gohmert’s, and Steve decided to set up a meeting to engage the Congressman on our issues, including the need for two-person crews on all trains. Steve didn’t shy away because Rep. Gohmert is a conservative Republican; no, Steve’s attitude was that “this is my Congressman, and I will request a meeting.” They talked for more than an hour and Steve convinced this very conservative Republican that the only safe way to operate a train is with a crew of at least two people.

Arizona State Legislative Director Scott Jones lives in Congressman Franks’ district and decided to set up a meeting with his Congressman. Scott brought along a retired engineer who attends the same church as Congressman Franks and whose children attend bible study taught by the Congressman. Hearing from a trusted friend proved extremely effective as Congressman Franks came out of the meeting understanding the importance of two-person crews and became a cosponsor of H.R. 1763.

Last year, one of our bus members, Socorro Cisneros-Hernandez, had an upcoming meeting with Republican Congressman Paul Cook of California and contacted our office looking for talking points on our legislative priorities. Ms. Cisneros used the information we provided and had a very productive meeting with Congressman Cook, after which he agreed to cosponsor the Safe Freight Act.

Most recently, Greg Hynes and I met with another conservative Republican, Ryan Zinke of Montana. After a robust discussion about the two-person crew legislation, Congressman Zinke agreed to sign on as a cosponsor.

The lesson from all of these cases is that every member of Congress, regardless of party or ideology, should be viewed as a potential cosponsor of H.R. 1763. Our Washington team will continue to do our part, but when it comes to issues that some members of Congress may not be naturally inclined to support, our members – their constituents – are the ones who can make the most effective case.

To do your part, work with your state legislative director to set up a meeting with your Representative to ask that they cosponsor H.R. 1763. We can provide you with handouts and other materials to help. Our recent comments on the FRA’s crew size rule are a good source of information on this issue. If you do not know who your state legislative director is, a list can be found here.

If we are going to succeed in passing this bill, we need to be engaged at the local level. Special thanks to Brothers Steve Simpson, Scott Jones and Sister Socorro Cisneros-Hernandez for stepping up to the plate and taking the initiative in getting these new cosponsors.

Lastly, please visit the Legislative Action Center to contact your Representative about the Safe Freight Act and ask your coworkers to do the same.

In Solidarity,

John Risch
National Legislative Director
SMART Transportation Division

Contact your Reps. about two-person crew legislation

By National Legislative Director John Risch

Risch

Risch

Recently, Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas – one of the most conservative members of the U.S. House of Representatives – cosponsored our two-person crew legislation, H.R. 1763, the Safe Freight Act. This show of support follows cosponsorship from Congressman Trent Franks of Arizona, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Both are considered among the most conservative members of Congress. Why did Rep. Gohmert sign onto the bill? The simple answer is that one of our members asked him to. General Chairperson Steve Simpson’s office is located near Rep. Gohmert’s, and Steve decided to set up a meeting to engage the Congressman on our issues, including the need for two-person crews on all trains. Steve didn’t shy away because Rep. Gohmert is a conservative Republican; no, Steve’s attitude was that “this is my Congressman, and I will request a meeting.” They talked for more than an hour and Steve convinced this very conservative Republican that the only safe way to operate a train is with a crew of at least two people. Arizona State Director Scott Jones lives in Congressman Franks’ district and decided to set up a meeting with his Congressman. Scott brought along a retired engineer who attends the same church as Congressman Franks and whose children attend bible study taught by the Congressman. These personal connections proved extremely effective as Congressman Franks came out of the meeting as a supporter of the Safe Freight Act and he also became a cosponsor. Last year, one of our bus members, Socorro Cisneros-Hernandez, had an upcoming meeting with Republican Congressman Paul Cook of California and called our office looking for talking points on our legislative priorities. Ms. Cisneros used the information we provided and had a very productive meeting with Congressman Cook, after which he co-sponsored the Safe Freight Act. Most recently, Greg Hynes and I met with another conservative Republican, Ryan Zinke of Montana. After a robust discussion about the two-person crew legislation, Congressman Zinke agreed to sign on as a cosponsor. The lesson from all of these cases is that every member of Congress, regardless of party or ideology, should be viewed as a potential cosponsor of H.R. 1763. Our Washington team will continue to do our part, but when it comes to issues that some members of Congress may not be naturally inclined to support, our members – their constituents – are the ones who can make the most effective case. I am calling on all of you to set up meetings with your Congressional Representatives and ask that they cosponsor H.R. 1763, the Safe Freight Act. We can provide you with handouts and other materials to help. Our recent comments on the FRA’s crew size rule is a good source of information on this issue. Here is the link: https://static.smart-union.org/worksite/PDFs/SMART-TD_BLET_Joint_Comments.pdf If we are going to succeed in passing this bill, we need to be engaged at the local level. Special thanks to Brothers Steve Simpson, Scott Jones and Sister Socorro Cisneros-Hernandez for stepping up to the plate and taking the initiative in getting these new cosponsors. Visit the Legislative Action Center to learn more about the Safe Freight Act and to find out who represents you in congress.

Iowans surveyed support expansion of passenger rail

Amtrak 054A new survey reaffirms support for expanding passenger rail service in Iowa.

More than half the participants — 56 percent — in a survey conducted by the SMART Transportation Division said passenger rail service in Iowa should increase. Another 77 percent said Amtrak should add service from Des Moines to Chicago, a concept that once had steam but has stagnated for several years due to lack of funding.

Read more from The Gazette.

Two-person crew amendment will not move forward

two-person_crewIn a letter to state directors, National Legislative Director John Risch and Alternate National Legislative Director Greg Hynes report the following:

“Unfortunately, a two-person crew amendment WILL NOT be offered to H.R. 3763, the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform (STRR) Act of 2015.

“Due to the expected rules governing consideration of the legislation and agreements among the leadership of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on which amendments will be allowed, there is no path for the amendment to pass or receive strong support. A significant loss on the floor would set back our efforts.

“Please pass this information down the chain to your LRs and other members you are able to reach.

“While this is not the result we hoped for, we ask that you all continue to push forward and generate support for the stand-alone, two-person crew legislation, H.R. 1763, the Safe Freight Act. The more cosponsors we have on H.R. 1763, the better position we will be in to pass it as a stand-alone bill or attach it to a larger bill next time the House considers rail safety legislation.

“As always, thank you for all of your hard work and willingness to assist in our efforts.”

Contact your legislators about two-person crews

two-person_crewIt has recently been announced that an attempt may be made to attach language from H.R. 1763, the Safe Freight Act, which is the federal two-person crew bill onto H.R. 3763.

H.R. 3763 is the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015, which was passed by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Thursday, Oct. 22. This bill contains language extending the PTC implementation deadline to 2018 with an additional two-year extension beyond that date.

Members, friends and family are urged to contact their House Representatives immediately to ask them to co-sponsor and support H.R. 1763, as well as its inclusion to H.R. 3763.

“Now is the time to take action and contact your congressional representatives about co-sponsoring H.R. 1763,” said Alternate National Legislative Director Greg Hynes. “It’s in the best interest of public safety and the safety of our members.”

Click here to search for your House Representatives by state.

Click here to send an email to your representatives, asking for their support of H.R. 1763 for railroaders.

Click here to send an email to your representatives, asking for their support of H.R. 1763 for family members and friends.

Unions advancing new two-person train crew bill

Previsich_150_px

Previsich

Continuing a cooperative effort to promote safety in the railroad industry, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers International Association (SMART) have jointly announced that legislation requiring at least two crew members on all freight trains in the U.S. has been introduced in the 114th Congress.

The Safe Freight Act (H.R. 1763), introduced by U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) April 13, would require two crew members — one certified locomotive engineer and one certified conductor — on all freight trains. The newly-introduced legislation mirrors H.R. 3040, which had more than 80 co-sponsors last year prior to conclusion of the 113th Congress. H.R. 1763 has been referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. 

H.R. 1763 would require that “no freight train or light engine used in connection with the movement of freight may be operated unless it has a crew consisting of at least 2 individuals, one of whom is certified under regulations promulgated by the Federal Railroad Administration as a locomotive engineer pursuant to section 20135, and the other of whom is certified under regulations promulgated by the Federal Railroad Administration as a conductor pursuant to section 20163.”

pierce

Pierce

The joint effort reflects heightened concerns over crew size arising from the July 6, 2013, derailment of a Montreal, Maine & Atlantic (MM&A) oil train in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, which killed 47 people and destroyed the center of the town. The MM&A train was crewed by a single person. Since that time, there has also been movement by major freight railroads to seek collective bargaining agreements to allow for widespread use of one-person train operations.

“The BLET continues to oppose and condemn single-person freight operations as adverse to worker and public safety,” BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce said. “All parties involved must understand that as things stand today, there are only two ways to end one-person train operations: federal laws or regulations that outlaw this dangerous practice, or collectively bargained contract language that requires two crew members on every train. We will continue to work to protect contractual language to defend two-person crews, and it also is our goal to protect the safety of railroad workers and the general public by advocating for passage of H.R. 1763.”

SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich said, “The SMART Transportation Division has always espoused that the safest rail operation is a two-person crew operation. With several major train derailments having occurred in the last few months, most notably the oil train derailment and explosion near Charleston, W. Va., in February, our lawmakers and the general public must understand that multi-person crews are essential to ensuring the safest rail operations possible in their communities. I would like to thank Cong. Don Young (R-Alaska) for his leadership on this critical rail safety issue. No one would permit an airliner to fly with just one pilot, even though it can fly itself. Trains, which cannot operate themselves, should be no different.”

Young is serving his 22nd term as Alaska’s only representative in the House and is a former Chairman of both the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (2001-2007) and the House Natural Resources Committee (1995-2001).