Posts Tagged ‘TTD’

TTD unions release principles for combating the COVID-19 health crisis

The AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department, of which SMART Transportation Division is a member, released the following on March 18, 2020:

The people who build, operate and maintain our nation’s transportation systems are struggling, as are most Americans, with the scope and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The spread of the disease does not appear to be slowing down, and it is clear that this is not only a public health crisis, but also an economic one. As the elected leaders of transportation unions we are calling on federal policymakers to take decisive action to address both the immediate and long-term health and economic effects caused by COVID-19. Critically, any solutions must focus on helping front line workers who are bearing the brunt of the outbreak from both a health and economic perspective.

There are three separate, but inextricably related challenges:

  1. Addressing the immediate public health crisis by preventing the spread of the disease and keeping workers safe on the job.
  2. Providing immediate economic relief for those whose livelihood is threatened during this crisis.
  3. Providing long-term economic stability for transportation workers and the systems they support.

Confronting the Public Health Crisis

Although many employers are telling employees to work from home, front line transportation and hospitality workers cannot just log into a computer to do their jobs. Bus drivers, port workers and longshoremen, mariners on board ships, train operators, airline pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, passenger service agents and others must be physically present to perform their duties. It is therefore incumbent on government agencies and employers to ensure that workers are given the guidance, training, resources and equipment to both keep themselves healthy and to prevent further spread of the virus.

This starts with strict and sector-specific guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for all front line transportation workers. These guidelines must recognize all modes of viral transmission, including the inhalation of infectious aerosols, and stress employer responsibility for providing and maintaining a safe work environment. Further, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) must issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to protect working people, including those covered under the Railway Labor Act (RLA), from occupational exposure to infectious diseases, including COVID-19. Workers must also be provided with and allowed to use protective equipment such as N95 respirators and protective gloves while on the job. Finally, COVID-19 tests must be free and available to everyone to ensure prompt diagnosis and treatment. The lack of adequate testing allows public health officials to understate the true scope of the virus and prevents individuals from making informed, intelligent decisions when deciding whether to go to work or remain on the job.

Immediate Economic Assistance

There are several commonsense policies to address the immediate economic concerns of working people that must be central to any immediate economic relief package. The fact that this country does not have mandatory paid sick and family medical leave for all workers is a national embarrassment. The spread of COVID-19 is demonstrating the public health and economic consequences for such callous, shortsighted policies that routinely require working people to choose between giving up pay and reporting to work sick. In this time of crisis, paid sick leave should be mandatory. We call on Congress to step in and designate COVID-19 as a serious health condition for the purposes of the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Congress must also strengthen and expand Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Railroad Unemployment Insurance (RUI) eligibility and benefits, including increasing the maximum benefit and broadening eligibility. For those who are laid off, furloughed, or take voluntary leave due to an economic slowdown, UI and RUI are critical resources. It is also an effective economic stimulus because it gets money directly into the hands of those who need it most and are most likely to spend it. Congress should also take action to eliminate bureaucratic barriers to providing adequate benefits.

Long-Term Economic Stimulus

The transportation sector is already being particularly hard hit by the economic slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Passenger volume has dropped precipitously for air carriers, Amtrak, commuter rail and public transit, and the volume is not expected to improve for weeks, if not months. Freight operations have also been hit hard as production has dropped across the globe.  These are the same transport options that will be critical to getting our economy up and running again once the virus crisis passes. Transportation workers and the industries they support are going to need help from the federal government. The same is true of the United States Postal Service, which currently does not receive taxpayer funds, but will need financial relief and flexibility to further utilize its vast network as Americans increase their demand for e-commerce, vote by mail, and prescription drug delivery during this crisis and into a recovery.

First, if we are serious about mitigating the long-term economic effects this pandemic is going to cause, Congress and the administration must prioritize direct spending on transportation infrastructure and services across all modes. As borrowing rates remain historically low, there is no better time to make major investments in our transportation systems, which will keep Americans working and support the economic well-being of communities across this nation.

We must also consider that the effectiveness of any government response will depend on getting the policy right. Any effort to stimulate the economy and protect critical industries must not be an exercise in corporate welfare that benefits only the wealthiest among us. We saw this done poorly in the aftermath of 9/11. While Congress acted quickly to stabilize the airline industry, thousands of workers who lost their jobs had to wait a year and a half for expanded unemployment insurance benefits. For many, this was too little, too late.

Additionally, aviation workers made steep concessions after 9/11 to help keep the industry afloat. Yet, as the airlines rebounded and eventually reached record profits, the employees’ share of those profits remained stagnant. For many front line work groups it took as long as 20 years to get wages and benefits back to pre-9/11 levels. Others, like food catering workers, are still waiting to get back to 2001 levels.

Therefore, there must be protections built in to any stimulus legislation to ensure that companies that receive public funds cannot use this money to undermine workers’ livelihoods by offshoring or outsourcing jobs, or by handing the money over to shareholders in the form of increased dividends and stock buybacks. Catering contractors and subcontractors of the airlines that seek public assistance from any stimulus package must be required to provide health care coverage to their employees that meets or exceeds the standards set by the Service Contract Act. There must also be provisions to prevent employers from abrogating their collective bargaining commitments, even in a bankruptcy process.

Similar protections should be imposed on public transit agencies, Amtrak and commuter rail providers that receive federal money to compensate for losses in fare box dollars or state tax revenue. Public funds must be prioritized to maintain service, employment levels, wages and benefits. Further, no public funds should be used to prop up the foreign flag cruise ship industry that utilizes foreign labor and flags-of-convenience laws to avoid hiring American crews and adhering to American labor laws and standards, as well as environmental codes.

The policies need to be clear. This will not only keep people employed and participating in the broader economy, it will keep these sectors prepared to meet the surge in demand that will occur once this crisis is over.

Transportation labor is ready and eager to do our part to steer our country through this crisis. Every day, workers are continuing to go to work, perform their duties, and do their best to ensure that our passenger and freight transportation networks continue to operate in a safe and efficient manner. It is these workers who will suffer the most as this pandemic stretches on. Half-measures, jumbled guidance and corporate welfare will not contain this pandemic, and will certainly not provide the economic stimulus that we desperately need. We need policies that put workers first and position our country to flourish once this crisis is over.

Sincerely,

Marshall Ainley, President, MEBA
Levi Allen, Secretary-Treasurer, UMWA
Tim Barnes, Asst. to the President/Legislative Rep., UNITEHERE
Jerry Boles, President, BRS
Dave Connolly, President, SUP
John Costa, President, ATU
Harold Daggett, President, ILA
Joe DePete, President, ALPA
Jeremy Ferguson, President, SMART-TD
Lorretta Johnson, Secretary-Treasurer, AFT
Everett Kelley, National President, AFGE
John Mansker, Director, Railroad Division, IBB
Donald Marcus, President, MM&P
F. L. McCann, President, ATDA
Sara Nelson, International President, AFA-CWA
Sito Pantoja, General Vice President, IAM
Michael Perrone, National President, PASS
Paul Rinaldi, President, NATCA
Fredric Rolando, National President, NALC
Al Russo, Director – Railroad Division, IBEW
John Samuelsen, International President, TWU
Robert Scardelletti, National President, TCU
Christopher M. Shelton, President, CWA
John Thacker, Conference President, NCF&O, SEIU
Larry I. Willis, President, TTD

SMART TD, TTD ask nation’s trade representative to protect U.S. rail jobs

A letter co-signed by SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy R. Ferguson and AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department (TTD) President Larry Willis asked the United States’ chief trade representative to re-examine policies that leave American rail workers at a disadvantage.

The United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA), planned to be a trade pact to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), does not address certain issues covering cross-border traffic between Mexico and the U.S., the union leaders wrote.

Since 1931, Mexican railway companies have had a policy that they only employ Mexican rail workers. This policy has endured through the decades and was “enshrined” through NAFTA in the mid 1990s.

In the summer of 2018, Kansas City Southern began to allow Mexican crews to cross the U.S. border and operate within the country’s borders, drawing strong objections from both SMART TD and the TTD.

“Allowing workers from Mexico to operate in the United States while U.S. workers are prohibited from operating in Mexico is a direct and existential threat to the jobs of thousands of conductors and locomotive engineers represented by SMART TD,” the letter stated.

A reciprocal measure requiring U.S. crews to operate the trains was not included in the USMCA amid objections from the Mexican government, Ferguson and Willis stated.

“Without its inclusion, the agreement fails domestic rail workers and their sector, and further fails to uphold principles of parity between the U.S. and Mexico on the issue of rail service,” they wrote, calling upon Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to fix the disparity.

“SMART TD and TTD strongly agree with the Administration that NAFTA has failed working people and that the impacts of a trade agreement that was not written for their benefit are still being felt,” they stated. “We call on you to not abandon freight rail workers.”

Read the letter in its entirety (PDF).

Transportation labor announces eight key policies to promote safety, protect transit jobs in era of automation

WASHINGTON, D.C. Calling on Congress and the Trump Administration to take seriously threats posed by automation, the Transportation Trades Department (TTD) of the AFL-CIO on March 11 laid out eight principles for promoting safety, protecting the livelihoods of transit operators and ensuring public policy can adapt with the rapid pace of technological innovation. The policies come as workers in Ohio, Michigan, Arizona and other states want to prioritize safety and preserve good jobs as automated transit and ride-hailing services enter their communities.

Among other priorities, the coalition of transportation unions, of which SMART Transportation Division is a member, is calling for operators to remain on board automated vehicles to ensure safety, respond in emergencies and provide backup in case of technological failure, and for Congress to establish a fund that would supplement wages, health care costs and training or retraining programs of workers affected by automation.

“Driverless technology is coming at a time when the economy is balanced against working people, wages are stagnating, and workers are finding it harder and harder to get by. Not only do transit workers stand to see their jobs changed dramatically or automated away, but serious concerns about safety remain. So far, elected leaders do not seem to be taking these threats seriously,” said TTD President Larry I. Willis. “We cannot allow safety to be compromised or the good jobs in this sector to be steamrolled just so tech companies and Wall Street investors can have their way.”

The eight key policies are as follows:

  1. Transit agencies must give workers advance notice before deploying automated vehicles (AVs).
  2. The collective bargaining rights of transit workers must be preserved. Additionally, transit agencies must negotiate the use of automated technologies with their unions.
  3. Automated transit vehicles must adhere to strict federal safety standards.
  4. Drivers must remain onboard on automated vehicles, regardless of how far technology develops, to ensure safety, respond in emergencies and provide backup in case of technological failure.
  5. Congress should establish a transportation workforce fund to help cover wages, health care costs, unemployment benefits and training or retraining programs for workers affected by driverless technology. This fund will be paid for through a mileage-based user fee of highly or fully automated transit vehicles.
  6. Transit agencies wishing to use AVs must examine the impact they will have on transit workers and issue a report.
  7. The U.S. Departments of Labor and Transportation should also examine the impacts automation has on transit ridership, capacity and employment. This includes examining the direct and indirect impacts automated ride-sharing or ride-hailing services have on transit services.
  8. Before transportation agencies implement automated technology, they must issue a workforce training plan.

These policies on AVs and driverless technology were laid out at the TTD’s Executive Committee meeting in New Orleans.

Read the full policy statement here.

We’d better care about Clinton v. Trump on transportation

The Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, highlights the stark difference in how Clinton and Trump stand on transportation issues, underscoring how the outcome of this election may profoundly impact the health and future of transportation unions and all working families in America.  Read the entire article here.

 

SMART TD, TTD comment on FRA NPRM

Proposed rule: “Competitive Passenger Rail Service Pilot Program”

FRA_logo_wordsThe Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register August 22. This proposed rulemaking from the FRA is a direct result of Section 11307 of the FAST Act which requires FRA to implement a pilot program for competitive selection of petitioners other than Amtrak to operate up to three long-distance routes currently operated by Amtrak. The final rule will establish the procedures for interested parties to submit bids and the information that petitioners must submit to FRA. It will also establish the procedures for the Secretary to evaluate bids, and select and notify selected petitioners, should there be any.

SMART TD, TTD and all of rail labor opposed this concept and other privatization mandates as the bill was going through the legislative process and fought to remove it or include conditions that would protect workers and create a level playing field if it ever went into effect. In the end, while the pilot provision stayed in the final bill, a number of conditions were attached to it at our request and it was limited to three long-distance routes. Given the political realities we face on the Hill and the opposition to Amtrak that exists, this was not an easy task. 

TTD submits comments on proposed ruleTTD_Fotor

Yesterday, September 6, the Transportation Trades Department (TTD) of the AFL-CIO commented on the proposed rule published by the FRA. Click here to read TTD’s comments.

National Legislative Director John Risch on TTD’s comments:

Risch

Risch

“The comments filed by TTD urge FRA to ensure that labor, service and Buy America rules that attach to this program are fully implemented. Specifically, TTD’s comments call on FRA to ensure that so-called 4R rail employee protections cover workers impacted by this program. As TTD notes in their comments, we think the law requires this result, but we need to make sure the FRA implements this in the right way. I should note that Rich Edelman, on behalf of the BMWE (which was not included in TTD’s comments since they are not members) also filed comments. Edelman, who has a strong background in this area of the law, goes into more detail on the legal background on the protections which should be helpful. It is important to note that both TTD and Edelman’s comments are on the same page. (Click here to read Edelman’s comments.) They demand 4R act protections and our comments have a whole section that talks about why they are legally needed to be applied and specifically ask that the proposed regulations be amended to require any winning bidder be responsible for those protections. We also are asking FRA to issue guidance to adopt them to this situation.

“TTD’s comments also urge FRA to adopt hiring preferences and procedures for Amtrak employees and to ensure that any new entity is covered by rail laws just like Amtrak is today.   

“We all need to keep this in perspective. Amtrak receives preferential pricing from the Class 1’s to operate over their track, something the Class 1’s have for years decried as inadequate. A new entrant will not likely receive nearly as good an operating rate as Amtrak currently does. If there is a winning competitive bidder on any of these three routes they will only receive 90 percent of the funding that Amtrak currently receives to provide the service making the bidding process even harder.”

SMART TD Testifies before FRA

Today, September 7, the FRA held a public hearing on the proposed rule. SMART Transportation Division National Legislative Director John Risch was at the hearing and testified on behalf of SMART TD. Click here to read his comments.

 John Risch, SMART TD National Legislative Director, testifies at FRA hearing

TTD: Trump & Pence, formula for jobs disaster

“Donald Trump says he’ll make America great by being tough on trade, building things and creating jobs. Sure, it sounds good, but Trump is forgetting one thing: actions really do speak louder than words.

Not only has Trump failed to share any semblance of a plan for how he’ll do the things he so arrogantly brags about, but the GOP platform — which he now owns — is nothing more than a how-to manual for the destruction of the American middle class and our country’s transportation system. You’d think it can’t get worse, but it does” – Ed Wytkind, President, Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO. Read his complete column here.

 

TTD: Making America great again means rebuilding America

By Larry I. Willis, AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department Secretary-Treasurer

Larry Willis

Willis

Unfortunately, the anti-growth, anti-government movement is alive and well. Heck, we have extremists in the GOP who think House Speaker Paul Ryan is too moderate.I had the honor last week of speaking to IBEW members at their Railroad Department and Government Employees Conference. I had a chance to talk about what is at stake in this election and the challenges we face as a country.

We need a president and a Congress who embrace what we know: that a strong, safe, vibrant transportation system will be the backbone of any economic expansion and the fuel to rebuild our shrinking middle-class.

Turning directly to who is now the presumptive Republican nominee, I pulled no punches:


“Donald Trump has tapped into an electorate that is frustrated, scared and sick and tired of Washington politics. His ability to register and connect with voters, even if limited to parts of the Republican base, shouldn’t be ignored. I can assure you we won’t ignore it. We know there are millions of voters who have been harmed by policies and economic conditions that are responsible for plant closures, reckless outsourcing and declining wages, and who might pull the lever for a candidate who promises to make our country “great again.” Our job is to explain that supporting working people is about more than making empty speeches. Supporting working families is about actually advancing a vision and prescribing solutions.

“At many levels, it really isn’t hard to understand the initial, visceral appeal Trump may have with people struggling in this economy. He talks a good game on trade but manages to sidestep the fact that his billionaire class is responsible for dotting the globe with sweatshops whose employees replaced workers here in America. He promises to build a wall on the southern border, a podium line that speaks to the feelings, maybe buried in the subconscious of some people, that it will prevent someone else, not from here, from taking their jobs and lowering wages. It is the classic blame game and Trump is all in with this strategy.

“Once you get past the bluster, Donald Trump is absolutely no friend of working families. While pretending to embrace an economic populist message, the billionaire told a national debate audience that wages in this country are “too high.”

“He claims that he has worked with unions, but he embraces completely the right-to-work agenda that we know would gut the labor movement and hollow out our ability to represent our members and secure good contracts. But I guess if you think wages are too high, it makes sense to destroy the only institution that can actually raise wages and bring collective strength to the bargaining table.

“He tells voters that when he is elected president, he will force Apple and Ford and Nabisco, among others, to bring their production back to the U.S. At the same time his own line of suits and ties are made in China and Mexico. I wonder if he’ll force the Trump Empire to produce those suits and ties in America.

“When workers at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas wanted a union voice, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) alleged that the hotel fired or threatened union supporters, suspended employees and maintained illegal rules that prohibited workers from talking to each other. So much for democracy.

“His anti-worker plank is bad enough, but it is his reliance on hatred, racism, chauvinism and xenophobia to support his agenda and to guide his vision for this country that should scare the hell out of us.

“We must reject bigotry and divisiveness from any candidate for any office, but especially from those auditioning to lead our nation. Making America great should be about rebuilding the country – its infrastructure, transportation system and public institutions – giving millions the chance at the middle class through strong unions, and embracing the diversity of this nation, not exploiting it to advance a dangerous agenda that would turn the clock back on decades of progress.

“Simply put, Donald Trump is not only unfit to be president, he represents a danger to our democracy that we cannot allow to stand.”


I also noted that it might be easy – given recent polling – to underestimate Donald Trump in a general election. Sixteen defeated Republican candidates made that mistake. The stakes are too high and the voters are too angry to take any election outcome for granted. We must do everything we can to make sure union members know the facts come November.

This article originally appeared on the TTD’s MoveAmerica Blog.

TTD endorses better oversight of curbside bus operators

TTD_FotorIn a letter to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), endorsed better oversight of curbside bus operators. In there letter, the TTD says “the passenger bus sector must be held to one standard of safety and curbside operators should not be allowed to operate unsafe vehicles, violate hours of service rule or avoid compliance with driver screening regulation simply because of where they pick up passengers.” Their letter to the FMCSA is on behalf of 32 affiliated unions, of which SMART is a part. Click here to read the letter.  

TTD, SMART, labor unions urge DOT to protect bus & transit operators from assault

la_metro_busEd Wytkind, President of TTD, AFL-CIO, John Previsich, President of SMART Transportation Division and other union leaders have released a joint letter to Anthony Foxx, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), urging the DOT to issue a rule “to protect bus drivers and other transit operators from the physical assaults that are plaguing this industry.”

Read the complete letter, here.

TTD urges Congress to protect workers, jobs; opposes NS takeover

Transportation Unions’ agenda focuses on job creation, safety and appropriations

2016 Presidential Election Preparations Advance TTD_FotorSan Diego, Calif. — Transportation unions took aim at critical transportation appropriations battles pending in Washington and continued preparations to show their members and the public the stark choices voters will face in the presidential election. “We are committed to countering the dangerous austerity agenda in certain corners of Congress that threatens to starve job creation investments in transportation,” said Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), following the winter meeting of the organization’s 32-member Executive Committee, held yesterday. “We will also focus on critical safety issues plaguing our sector and fighting corporate efforts to weaken the job security and collective bargaining rights of transportation workers.” Executive Committee members discussed their priorities with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR), the lead Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Charlie Cook, political analyst and editor and publisher of The Cook Political Report, provided a snapshot on the state of the presidential race and key U.S. Senate contests. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka held a roundtable with transportation union leaders that focused on pending policy priorities and collective bargaining battles in 2016. Transportation unions put their weight behind legislation that imposes stiffer criminal penalties on anyone who assaults airline customer service representatives. “We have seen an increase in attacks on gate and ticket agents – it is time for Congress and the airline companies to better protect these employees,” Wytkind said. TTD affiliates joined the growing chorus of opposition to Canadian Pacific’s attempted hostile takeover of Norfolk Southern, citing “the devastating impact these transactions can have on jobs, freight service and safety.” While praising Congress for boosting authorized funding levels for the Maritime Security Program (MSP), which provides vital sealift capacity to the Department of Defense, the Executive Committee vowed to push congressional appropriators and the Obama Administration to fully fund the program. “Funding MSP is vital to national security and it supports middle class U.S. mariner jobs,” Wytkind said. Transportation union leaders also condemned underhanded attacks — disguised as measures to monitor the productivity of U.S. ports — on the rights of longshore workers to bargain for job security, and good wages and benefits. “We will not let the world’s largest retailers and their army of lobbyists eviscerate the bargaining rights of the men and women in our ports,” Wytkind said. The Executive Committee called for immediate funding of the federal-state compact to build-out the Gateway Project. That project will fix a transportation crisis on the Northeast Corridor that promises to “reverberate across the entire economy” if Amtrak is forced to start shutting down century-old tunnels or severely deteriorated bridges in a region that supports 30 percent of the nation’s jobs. Transportation unions also urged Congress to ensure that measures to boost aviation security strike the appropriate balance between protecting against terrorist threats and honoring the “legitimate rights of employees.” Transportation unions focused on the upcoming presidential election with an agreement to work together in rolling out the views and records of the Republican and Democratic nominee for president. “We are already seeing in this race a contest between candidates who want to massively rebuild our transportation system and expand our middle class, and those who will likely pursue a dangerous austerity agenda tantamount to economic retreat,” Wytkind added.

Op-ed: GOP candidates propose devolution of rail law

Wytkind

Wytkind

In a letter to the editor and published by The Hill, AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department (TTD) President Edward Wytkind warns that GOP presidential candidates want to devolutionize laws governing freight and passenger rail in the U.S. The candidates are in support of deregulating the current rail laws and funding and turning it over to each individual state to mete out transportation policy and funding. GOP candidates Ohio Governor John Kasich, Jeb Bush and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (Fla.) have come out in support of devolution of transportation policy and funding. “…we must not accept candidates for president who fail to grasp the magnitude of this transportation investment crisis, and who advance policies that would make us a loser in the increasingly competitive global economy,” Wytkind said. “We need a vast transportation system that can deliver goods and people safely and with speed and precision, not some piecemeal experiment dreamed up by anti-government crusaders who can’t seem to get out of their own way.” Click here to read the full story from The Hill.