We focused like a laser on the need to counter the toxic agenda of political extremists—who gave us brilliant ideas like sequestration and the government shutdown—as a threat to our nation and irresponsible scapegoating of federal workers.
The plan we rolled out, embodied in 10 policy actions by our Executive Committee, comprehensively addresses issues across all modes of transportation—in aviation, passenger and freight rail, public transit, highways, and port and maritime industries.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx appeared before us for the first time. Among the issues we discussed, from finding a long-term fix to the broken surface transportation and aviation funding mechanisms, to dealing with the continuing threat to the Maritime Security Program and port investment initiatives, to the need to give Amtrak the resources it needs, to several international aviation challenges, the conversation unearthed many common views and interests.
Foxx told us Tuesday:
“I am thrilled to sit down with so many transportation labor leaders today, during my first meeting with the Transportation Trades Department Executive Committee as Secretary of Transportation. You know firsthand the difference that good transportation projects can make, and I look forward to continuing to work with you to support efforts like our Buy America program, which has helped ensure that American projects are made by American workers using American materials. Together, we can provide the country with transportation systems that increase safety, strengthen the economy, improve mobility and increase everyone’s quality of life.”
We hosted two other special guests – Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) and Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV).
Rep. LoBiondo, chair of the House aviation subcommittee, believes America can’t stand still and stop investing in our transportation system. His philosophy has been a breath of fresh air throughout his 18 years in office as he has voted with working people and for middle-class principles—whether his party leaders agreed with him or not.
And finally, I cannot say enough about Rep. Rahall, the ranking Democrat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, who has been a champion over the years for the working men and women in transportation. As usual, we had a free flowing discussion about rebuilding and expanding America’s transportation system and promoting policies that create middle-class jobs.
Transportation unions came together this week demonstrating what we’ve always believed: there is nothing more dizzying to politicians than transportation unions in all sectors—private and public—coming together to forge a common agenda. That principle was on display Tuesday and here is what we agreed to:
End sequestration and replace it with serious budget policies focused on economic expansion and job creation.
Reject the Norwegian Air Shuttle (NAS) operating scheme, a plan expressly baked to “forum shop for cheap labor” and evade collective bargaining obligations.
Federally mandate two-person crews on freights trains, to safeguard workers and the public from the dangers associated with forcing a single crew member to handle all duties during normal operations and emergencies.
Support a global solution to aviation emissions rather than the unilateral approach attempted by the European Union.
Fully fund the Maritime Security Program to maintain a system that is critical to our nation’s military and economic security.
Reform harbor maintenance spending and pass the Water Resources Development Act, to make America more competitive and create thousands of jobs.
Reform the airport contract screening program by establishing a balanced process for evaluating private screening companies—and treating the current federal screener workforce fairly.
Close the overtime protection loophole in our law that denies intercity bus drivers the same protections enjoyed by 85 percent of Americans.
Combat the epidemic of assaults against bus drivers and provide sufficient time and facilities for driver bathroom breaks.
Join the Jobs to Move America Coalition, led by LAANE, to pursue rail car and bus procurement policies that reward good employers, boost American manufacturing jobs and connect veterans and people in disadvantaged communities to middle class jobs.
Stay tuned as we roll out these initiatives.