TD leaders meet with DeFazio about carriers’ and agencies’ lax COVID-19 response

Published: April 24, 2020

Last updated on September 14th, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy R. Ferguson and National Legislative Director Gregory Hynes met with U.S. Rep. and Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) earlier this week, alerting him to carriers’ inadequate efforts to protect essential transportation workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

DeFazio

President Ferguson told the chairman about field reports from SMART-TD members that some bus, transit carriers and freight railroads are failing to provide adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as CDC-approved cleaning supplies and cleaning protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Federal agencies also have not taken substantial regulatory action to protect our members who are deemed essential workers through this national emergency, they told DeFazio.

Ferguson made particular note to the chairman about the freight rail industry, where the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) activated an emergency docket pushed by Class I carriers and the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) that cuts corners on inspections and safety measures in reaction to the pandemic.

Ferguson informed DeFazio that these measures are intended to be enacted in the event there is a workforce shortage caused directly by COVID-19. However, worker furloughs are “at the highest level ever,” and none of those emergency provisions should take effect until all furloughed workers are activated, our leadership said.

Chairman DeFazio was “attentive to our requests and is acutely aware of transportation workers’ needs” through the pandemic, NLD Hynes said.

“He’s fully aware of the shortcomings of the carriers’ and federal agencies’, especially FRA’s and FTA’s failed response to our COVID-19 requests for action through our Emergency Order petition,” Hynes said.