Ohio State Senators Kenny Yuko (D) and Michael Skindell (D) are leading the effort to make Ohio railroads safer for crews and communities. The following three railroad legislative initiatives are scheduled for a first hearing Thursday, May 4 at 9:00 am at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. Hearings are open to the public.
Click on the following three senate bills to support the legislative efforts introduced by Sens. Yuko and Skindell:
Ohio Senate Bill 74 – Two Person Crews on all Freight Trains: A minimum of two crew members on all freight trains operating in Ohio.
Ohio Senate Bill 89 – Rail Yard Lighting: To establishstandard for lighting in a rail yard; and to establish penalties for railroad companies that are in violation of those standards.
Ohio Senate Bill 90 –Use of Walkway Stone in Rail Yards: Establish standards for walkways in rail yards; and to establish penalties for railroad companies that are in violation of those standards.
Take another minute to ask your federal representatives to support H.R. 233, the Safe Freight Act, which would mandate a minimum of two-person crews on all freight trains operating anywhere in the U.S.
Attendees to the Washington State Labor Council Convention in Wenatchee, Wash., July 22-24, unanimously endorsed a resolution supporting legislation for two-person rail crews on train operations throughout the state, SMART Transportation Division Washington Legislative Director Herb Krohn reports.
The council also passed a resolution calling for additional legislative efforts related to railroad workplaces and public safety.
Krohn said the SMART Transportation Division had its largest delegation from the organization in attendance at the convention in about 50 years.
“We were also instrumental in advancing a resolution in support of limiting project development studies to 18 months to advance the proposed export terminals in Washington State,” Krohn said.
The two-person crew resolution “steadfastly opposes any actions to permit one-person train crew operations on Class I railroads operating in our state and elsewhere.”
The WSLC resolution also “supports and fervently urges the Washington State Legislature to enact proposed legislation prohibiting one-person train crew operations (H.B. 2718/S.B. 6473), which are already operating in our state on short-line railroads to the detriment of public safety; supports and advocates that members of our congressional delegation cosponsor and work to pass H.R. 3040, which would require all trains operating in the United States to be staffed with a crew of no fewer than two persons; and hereby determines that the enactment of legislation to prohibit one-person train crews shall be a priority in its 2015 legislative agenda.”
The resolution on railroad workplace and public safety endorsed the following legislative efforts:
H.B. 1620 and S.B. 5720, bills seeking adoption of state regulatory authority of railroad crew transportation services and any subcontractor company utilized by the railroads to provide such services;
H.B. 1621 and S.B. 5721, seeking adoption of state regulatory authority, equivalent to the Federal Hours of Service Laws that now cover railroad operating craft personnel, for Class I railroad yardmasters working in the state of Washington;
H.B. 1845 and S.B. 5722, seeking adoption of a process to consolidate all of the state of Washington’s railroad public and workplace safety and regulatory functions possible under a single agency, the WUTC; and providing this agency with the maximum regulatory authority over railroads permissible under federal law, as well as providing adequate funding, which includes additional inspectors with federalized rail enforcement authority;
The resolution also recognizes that crude shipments by rail pose a real and potentially deadly threat to both rail workers and the public and strongly urges the Washington State Legislature to work in close cooperation with rail labor organizations to critically examine all aspects of crude-by-rail operations.
The WSLC urged the Washington State Legislature, as well as all Washington State agencies having such authority, to develop a coordinated, consolidated, expanded, and effective rail regulatory and enforcement program for the purpose of ensuring increased protection of both railroad workers and the public.
The council announced that the resolution of these critical railroad public and employee safety issues shall be a priority in the 2015 WSLC legislative agenda.
To read the two-person crew resolution, click here.
To read the railroad workplace and public safety resolution, click here.
Pictured, from left, are SMART-TD Washington State Legislative Board Secretary Jourdan Marshall (117), Local Legislative Rep. Shane Sadler (1238), International Longshore and Warehouse Union Lobbyist Gordon Baxter, Washington State Legislative Board Vice Chairperson Clyde Rosa (1637), Local Legislative Rep. Tracey Council (845), Local Legislative Rep. Darren Volland (426), Washington State Legislative Board Assistant Director Steve Mazulo (855), Washington State Labor Council Secretary-Treasurer Lynne Dodson, Washington State Labor Council President Jeff Johnson, Washington State Legislative Board Chairperson Gary Howell (977), Krohn (1348), member Dan Kalich (426), member Kevin Drury (117, seated), member Steve Dansereau (1505), member Taro Suyematsu (1348), Local Legislative Rep. Dwayne Hawkins (1713) and Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Lobbyist Mike Elliott. (Not pictured was member Jared Dunagan of Local 845.)
The Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO issued the following statement on the train accident in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, that happened one year this week:
This week marks the one year anniversary of a tragic rail accident – a runaway train carrying 72 cars of crude ran into Lac-Megantic, Quebec killing 47 people and demolishing an entire town. While millions of carloads and containers traverse the country safely each year, too many accidents have occurred lately both in the freight and passenger sector. While the causes of these accidents vary and many investigations are ongoing, what is known is that more must be done to ensure that rail transportation is as safe and secure as possible for employees and the public.
For starters, too many rail workers, especially those responsible for operating trains and maintaining safety-sensitive equipment, are forced to report to work tired and fatigued. TTD has long called for federal rules to be changed to ensure that employees are given proper notice of when they will need to report to work and predictable schedules so that adequate rest can be secured.
Congress must also step in to stop rail companies from only “counting” certain hours that signal employees work as a way to get around federal rules limiting on-duty time. Let’s just say that there are some rail executives using creative calculating when it comes to adding up “covered work.” The problem is that this isn’t a game, and it is jeopardizing safety.
Congress must also adopt a mandated minimum crew size for freight train operations. Last year’s accident in Lac-Megantic, caused by a train that was operated by a single crew member, is a tragic reminder of the dangers posed by risky one-person rail operations. A freight train is massive – up to 19,000 tons and a mile and a half long – that simply should not be operated by one individual, especially given the myriad operating rules and regulations that must be followed. And while two-person crews are the norm on U.S. freight lines, crew size is often an issue determined by collective bargaining rather than federal mandate. Safety should not be bartered at the negotiating table. And by the way, the public agrees with us on this, with a series of polls showing that up to 9 out of 10 Americans believe #2crewtrains should be a national standard.
Fortunately, some lawmakers are taking steps to address rail safety. Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Jim Himes (D-CT), Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) introduced legislation (H.R. 4576) earlier this year that mandates predictable and defined work and rest schedules and Congressman Michaud (D-ME) introduced a bill (H.R. 3040) requiring a minimum crew size for freight trains. We also applaud the Department of Transportation and its Federal Railroad Administration for moving on a new proposed rule on two-person train crew requirements. Strong federal action is needed because we know from experience that the rail lobby will dismiss and downplay these dangerous operating practices.
In addition, first responders require the necessary tools and training to effectively respond to rail accidents, particularly those involving hazardous materials. Domestic oil production has boomed and the amount of crude oil being shipped by rail has increased 70-fold in the last decade. Despite that fact, many firefighters receive an inadequate level of training that does little more than teach them to call for help in the case of a hazardous materials incident. Congress must direct adequate resources to states and localities for first responder training but also ensure that the level of training is sufficient.
This week’s anniversary of the tragedy in Lac-Megantic is a glaring reminder that it’s not just the workers on these trains that are endangered by unsafe rail industry practices. The neighborhoods and cities through which these trains travel should care just as much. Congress and the Administration must take strong, immediate action to close gaps in rail safety that expose too many to unnecessary risks.