SMART Transportation Division Washington State Legislative Director Herb Krohn reports that, despite a last-ditch effort by Senate Minority Leader Mark Schoesler to quash it, the two-person freight crew legislation bill passed through the state Senate by a 34-15 vote.
“Schoesler attempted to shut down the Washington State Senate rather than allow our crewing bill to come to the floor for consideration and a vote,” Krohn said. “It’s an example of just how far the rail carriers and their allies are willing to go to kill off our safe train crewing bill as well as any other railroad safety legislation they oppose!”
Five Republicans and a Democrat who caucuses with them voted with every Senate Democrat in favor of the bill. The 15 senators who voted against H.B. 1841 were all Republican.
Krohn and the Washington State Legislative Board have been working for seven years to get the two-person crew legislation passed. Krohn has affectionately referred to H.B. 1841 as a “zombie” bill — it has been buried and put on hold numerous times by legislators but keeps coming back. It now enters the reconciliation phase because of differences in language involving short-line carriers between the Senate and House versions of the bill.
Krohn said the state House will consider amendments adopted by the Senate, and if representative do not agree upon the Senate amendments, a conference committee of two Democrats and one Republican from each chamber of the Legislature will be assigned to attempt to work out differences between the versions of this bill.
The deadline for the process is midnight March 12 — the last day of the 2020 legislative session. Once the reconciliation process is completed, the bill will be sent to the desk of Gov. Jay Inslee.
“We may need to mobilize again to generate high levels of constituent contacts with state legislators to get this bill across the finish line,” Krohn said.
He urged members to be on the lookout for email blasts — contact him at email@example.com — to add your name and stay up-to-date.
He thanked all TD members, their families and friends and all who helped for their persistence in advocating for the legislation and getting it closer to the governor’s desk.
“We wouldn’t be here without your support and willingness to take action to help push our train crewing bill forward,” Krohn said.
SEATTLE — SMART Transportation Division’s Washington State Legislative Board, represented by Legislative Director Herb Krohn, gave awards to a number of state legislators supportive of the union’s safety efforts at July’s regional meeting.
Receiving Golden Spike Awards for “exemplary leadership in advocating for legislation to protect the safety of both railroad workers and the general public” were state Sens. Steve Conway (D – Dist. 29) and Patty Kuderer (D – Dist. 48).
Washington state Sen. John Conway accepts his Golden Spike award from Washington State Legislative Director Herb Krohn, left, and SMART TD President John Previsich, center, at the Seattle Regional Meeting.
When receiving his award, Conway talked about the need for multiple-person crews on trains and the vital support crewmembers provide to first responders when a rail accident happens.
“We’re going to get that bill,” Conway said. “We’re going to get it passed.”
Kuderer, an attorney who worked on a number of railroad-related cases, is a “magnificent advocate” for rail safety, Krohn said, and had a hand in the state hearings regarding the aftermaths of both the 1993 Kelso accident and the 2015 Stampede Pass incident in which a train came apart during a blizzard.
In her speech accepting the award, Kuderer talked about how her grandfather, a union railroader, and later her grandmother could stay in their home after retirement thanks to a pension that unions fought for and protected.
However, the recent Janus v. AFSCME decision places those things in jeopardy.
Washington State Legislative Director Herb Krohn, left, looks on as Transportation Division President John Previsich congratulates Washington state Sen. Patty Kuderer on receiving a Golden Spike award at the Seattle Regional Meeting.
“There’s direct evidence that unions work and they’re not the problem,” Kuderer said. “I think what we need to do is to fight fire with fire. The Freedom Foundation is not going to give up. The Koch brothers aren’t going to give up. Big money interests, they’re not going to give up. But we have something more than they have – we have numbers, we have people, and we need to communicate the message of the unions more effectively to people to make them understand why it’s important to be a part of it.
“Just know that here in Washington, we’re going to do what we can to continue to protect unions and working families,” she said.
State Sen. Steve Hobbs (D – Dist. 44) received the Washington State Legislative Board’s 2018 Senator of the Year award for support of rail labor and working to lead the state’s Transportation Committee.
Washington state Sen. Steve Hobbs, right, thanks Washington State Legislative Director Herb Krohn after Hobbs received a Golden Lantern award at the Seattle Regional Meeting.
“If you don’t remember about the people – the people that drive the buses, the people that are on the rail cars, the people that fly the planes – then you’ve missed the point about transportation,” Hobbs said. “Because transportation is not just about getting people from Point A to Point B or getting your product from Point A to Point B, it’s about connecting people, building relationships.”
State Rep. Mike Sells (D – Dist. 38) was given a Golden Lantern award as the 2018 Representative of the Year. Sells leads the Washington State House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee and has sponsored or co-sponsored “every piece of legislation that we’ve introduced on rail safety,” Krohn said.
Washington state Rep. Mike Sells, left, accepts a Golden Lantern award from Washington State Legislative Director Herb Krohn at the Seattle Regional Meeting as Transportation Division Vice President John England, right, looks on.
Three state senators also were recognized for their advocacy and full support of TD legislation.
State Sens. Marilyn Chase (D – Dist. 32), Mark Miloscia (R – Dist. 30) and Hans Zeiger (D – Dist. 25) all were given awards for voting for 100 percent of TD safety legislation and for their 100% sponsorship or co-sponsorship records for all TD-supported legislation over the past six years.
Washington state Reps. Marilyn Chase and Mark Miloscia show off the awards they received from the Washington State Legislative Board at the Seattle Regional Meeting.
In addition to Krohn, Assistant State Legislative Director Steve Mazulo of Local 855 and Darren Volland, legislative representative of Local 426, served as the host local committee for the meeting at the Westin hotel in Seattle.
Former SMART TD (UTU Local 1348) Washington State Legislative Director Thomas R. Retterath died Monday, November 2, 2015 at the Hospice Care Center following a battle with cancer.
Retterath was drafted and served in the U.S. Army from 1964 to 1966. In 1971 he began his railroad career with Burlington Northern Railroad where he worked as a switchman at Longview Switching. In 1984 he was elected as the Washington State Legislative Director for the UTU and he served in that capacity until he retired in 2006. He is remembered as a devoted husband, father, grandfather and friend.
SMART TD Washington State Legislative Director Herb Krohn said, “Tom Retterath was an extremely popular and respected leader of SMART TD/United Transportation Union. He could be described as a ‘gentle giant.’ From 1984 through 2006 he guided our Washington State Legislative Board as our state director. He led the successful effort to obtain adoption of regulations establishing railroad walkway safety standards in our state.”
A celebration of his life was held at 2:00 p.m. on November 14 at Evangel Christian Fellowship, 1335 11th Avenue, Longview, WA, 98632.
Donations may be made in Retterath’s honor to the Community Home Health and Hospice, Three Rivers International House of Prayer or Mountain Ministries.