WASHINGTON — In a letter to the leadership of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), together with member unions and coalition partners, is urging lawmakers to follow established protocol for developing federal drug testing procedures and exclude provisions for hair specimen testing from any House surface transportation bill.

Historically, experts at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have determined how and when new drug testing procedures should be administered. Those guidelines are then used by the Department of Transportation (DOT) to create federal drug testing standards for bus and truck drivers, and other transportation employees.

HHS has not determined whether hair is a valid and reliable specimen for use in federal drug tests and has not issued technical guidelines permitting its use. Despite this, a provision in the Senate’s version of the surface transportation bill would circumvent HHS and allow bus and truck companies to use hair samples to comply with DOT drug testing.

“The Senate has undermined the expertise of scientists and potentially jeopardized the jobs of thousands of bus and truck drivers with this unproven testing method,” said TTD President Edward Wytkind. “We urge the House to reject the Senate’s hair testing provision and ensure that federal drug tests are backed by scientific and forensically sound evidence. Nothing less should be acceptable.”

Studies show that hair testing may have an inherent racial bias. Darker and more porous hair retains some drugs at greater rates than lighter hair. Hair specimen can also cause individuals to test positive for drugs they never ingested, as drugs from the environment can absorb into hair and cause positive results.

“The science behind hair testing is questionable and the drug test results it produces may be discriminatory and could produce false positives,” Wytkind warned.

The following organizations joined TTD on the letter:

American Civil Liberties Union
Association of Flight Attendants-CWA
Air Line Pilots Association
American Medical Review Officers, LLC
American Train Dispatchers Association
Amalgamated Transit Union
Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice
National Air Traffic Controllers Association
National Workrights Institute
Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers-Transportation Division
Sailors’ Union of the Pacific
Transport Workers Union of America
United Steelworkers

Washington, DC — Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issued this statement on the Comprehensive Transportation and Consumer Protection Act of 2015, introduced by Sen. John Thune (R – S.D.):



“At a time when our country’s transportation infrastructure is failing and disenfranchised Americans are desperate for work, bipartisan support is crucial to fund our nation’s highway and transit systems, and boost job creation.

“Instead of following a bipartisan model — as Senators James Inhofe (R-OK) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) of the EPW Committee demonstrated last month — Commerce Committee Republicans are unwisely using their section of the surface transportation reauthorization bill to advance a partisan agenda that harms workers.

“The Thune bill includes a poorly veiled measure designed to blame workers and their unions for all port delays during a bargaining dispute. It also prematurely allows the use of hair specimens for drug testing of bus and truck drivers. These provisions have no place in any portion of the surface transportation reauthorization bill.

“Sen. Thune’s bill also fails to require rail carriers to provide emergency responders with information about the amount and type of hazardous materials moving through their localities — a commonsense measure that is critical to the efforts of first responders to save lives.

“The highway/transit reauthorization bill is one of the most important initiatives Congress will consider this year. Senate Commerce Committee Republicans must stop playing partisan politics with this already long-delayed transportation investment bill, and reject proposals that undermine the rights of employees and fail to support our transportation system.”



Washington, DC — Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issues this statement on the consideration of the Amtrak Reauthorization bill:

“We applaud Senators Roger Wicker and Cory Booker for working in a bipartisan fashion to craft a sensible Amtrak Reauthorization bill that will be considered by the Commerce Committee today. The bill proposed by Wicker and Booker provides Amtrak with higher funding levels than the bill passed by the House, and includes reforms to the rail financing program that meet pressing needs to replace 100-year-old rail tunnels and other major infrastructure projects.

“While we strongly support these provisions, we remain concerned that the Wicker-Booker bill allows entities other than Amtrak to bid on service without full assurances that these rail operators will be covered by the same rail labor laws Amtrak follows today. If entities other than Amtrak are going to compete for business in the intercity passenger rail sector, then they should be required to comply with the same rail labor statutes and not be permitted to gain a competitive advantage at the expense of rail employees.

“While we are pleased that the bill contains provisions to bolster rail safety, we believe this legislation misses the chance to advance a number of common sense reforms that will make rail transportation safer. We also reject efforts to use this bill to mandate inward-facing cameras without basic privacy and anti-harassment protections for workers who spend up to 70 hours a week in locomotive cabs.

“We look forward to working with Senators Wicker and Booker to address these shortcomings and to craft a final bill that ensures our nation’s passenger rail system receives the funding and support needed to make it an engine for good jobs, mobility and strong economic growth.”

Transportation union leaders vowed to “redouble their efforts” to push for bipartisan solutions to the growing transportation infrastructure investment crisis that is undermining the economy and idling millions of jobs, said AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department President Edward Wytkind following the 2014 Fall TTD Executive Committee meeting Nov. 13.

“We had an important conversation today about how the midterm elections will impact our members in 2015,” Wytkind said. “We focused on how we can change the tone and content of the senseless debates in Washington about the bread and butter economic issues that have gone unaddressed for too long. We also vowed to stop current and newly elected members of Congress who think they’re being sent to Washington to eviscerate workers’ rights and abdicate the federal government’s responsibility as the chief steward of our transportation system.”

SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich and SMART Transportation Division National Legislative Director John Risch were in attendance.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) joined the meeting to collaborate with transportation unions on strategies to end the gridlock on vital transportation funding legislation. Specifically, Carper emphasized the need to stop “kicking the can” on a long-term fix to the insolvency faced by the Highway Trust Fund, which is the centerpiece of transit, highway, and bridge investments.

“I am committed to working with TTD affiliates, as well as a broad coalition of businesses, labor, truckers, motorists, transit riders, and elected officials, to ensure Congress does its job to pass and fund a long-term transportation bill. Without long-term funding certainty, our cities and states have put projects on hold that would repair our aging infrastructure and grow our economy,” Carper told transportation union leaders.

“Passing a fully-funded surface transportation bill is my top priority in the lame duck session, but Congress also must not lose sight of other critical infrastructure responsibilities in the rail, aviation, and port-maritime sectors. I believe that the chorus of voices supporting this initiative will be heard and Congress will do the right thing.”

Two senior officials of the Obama administration also joined the meeting to discuss the president’s goal to boost investments in and modernize our transportation system.

Byron Auguste, deputy director of the National Economic Council, and Peter Rogoff, undersecretary of transportation for policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation, joined the Executive Committee to discuss strategies to unify Democrats, Republicans, and Independents around a bipartisan solution to our severe infrastructure investment deficit and to emphasize the importance of such a solution to the administration in 2015.