The Transportation Trades Department (TTD) of the AFL-CIO has urged the CEOs of six major freight railroads operating in the United States to formally join the federal Confidential Close Call Reporting System.
The system enables rail workers to confidentially report “close call” safety incidents to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) without fear of retaliation by their employers.
To date Amtrak, many commuter-rail and short-line companies are part of the program, but Class Is have yet to participate. The union wrote to the CEOs of Norfolk Southern Railway, BNSF Railway Co., CSX, CN, Canadian Pacific Kansas City and Union Pacific Railroad.
A rail union group wants to know why the Class I railroads haven’t yet adopted a federal program in which railroad employees may anonymously report safety-related incidents.
The Transportation Trades Department (TTD) with the AFL-CIO sent letters to each of the six Class I railroads asking why they haven’t yet signed on to the Federal Railroad Administration’s confidential close call reporting system (C3RS). The railroads’ trade group, the Association of American Railroads (AAR), said in March that the railroads were committed to joining the program.
“It has been nearly six months since AAR made that public commitment and none of the Class I railroads have voluntarily joined the program. We appreciate the ongoing discussions between industry and labor regarding revisions to the current program but must caution against these negotiations becoming a delay tactic,” TTD President Greg Regan wrote in letters dated Wednesday.
The Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO has written letters to all six Class I railroads (download below) urging them to join the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) voluntary Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS), which the railroads, through the Association of American Railroads (AAR), committed to doing in March but are still working with FRA to make program adjustments they feel are necessary.
AAR President and CEO Ian Jefferies explained the railroads’ commitment in a March 2 letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who in Feb. 27 letters to the individual railroads (seven at the time, as Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern had not yet merged) requested that they join C3RS, following the Norfolk Southern (NS) train derailment and release of hazardous materials in East Palestine, Ohio.
“The industry absolutely shares your commitment to establishing effective mechanisms to help prevent future accidents like the derailment in East Palestine,” wrote Jefferies. “You will hear from each of the railroads individually in response to your letter as well. I write to provide important history and context regarding railroad use of close call reporting, hopefully to pave the way for working with you, FRA, and our employees to develop an even better system.
The Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO today urged all six Class I railroads to join the Federal Railroad Administration’s Confidential Close Call Reporting System.
The Association of American Railroads on March 2 said the Class I freight railroads would join the program, which allows railroaders to report “close call” safety incidents without fear of discipline or reprisal.
But the railroads have yet to officially join the program, partly due to regulatory red tape.
“We appreciate the ongoing discussions between industry and labor regarding revisions to the current program but must caution against these negotiations becoming a delay tactic,” TTD President Greg Regan wrote in a letter to the CEOs.
Improving communication and training as well as fostering trust between the company and its workers are some of the areas where Norfolk Southern could do better, according to a Wednesday report from the Federal Railroad Administration assessing the eastern U.S. Class I railroad’s safety culture.
FRA’s report comes on the heels of an unrelated announcement Wednesday from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration describing a settlement among OSHA, NS and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way – Employes Division (BMWED) over alleged safety violations that occurred at the site where an NS train derailed on Feb. 3 in East Palestine, Ohio. Several days following the derailment, NS and state and local officials had decided to vent a tank car carrying vinyl chloride over concern that the car was in danger of exploding.
On Friday, NS said it would be providing $500,000 as part of a grant to foster economic development in East Palestine. This would be on top of other significant funding to support the community.
Norfolk Southern’s commitment to safety has improved since the disastrous Feb. 3 hazardous materials derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, the Federal Railroad Administration said in a report released today.
But the FRA’s 143-page supplemental safety culture assessment also found that NS often focuses on meeting minimum safety standards, has inadequate communications procedures, inconsistent safety training, and distrust between labor and management that has an impact on safety efforts.
“FRA recognizes that NS has taken steps to be responsive to FRA recommendations and by implementing proactive safety measures,” the report says. “There are, however, areas where NS continues to use minimum standards set by regulations as a benchmark for efficacy. FRA encourages NS to work to advance its safety culture maturity by setting policies and procedures that incorporate proactive measures and continuous improvement goals.”
Six months after the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, not much has been done to prevent another such disaster in terms of safety regulations.
Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress agree the railroad industry needs new safety regulations but so far, the situation remains deadlocked in Washington, D.C.
On Thursday, officials in New York reported a commuter train derailment that seriously injured two people and left another 11 hurt. The following day, officials say a freight train derailed in upstate New York, disrupting Amtrak services.
Six months after the Norfolk Southern freight derailment released a mushroom cloud of fumes over the small town of East Palestine, Ohio, the U.S. Senate is within one Republican vote of passing a bipartisan and comprehensive freight rail re-regulation bill, AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department President Greg Regan says.
The Senate’s 48 Democrats, three independents, and eight of the 49 Republicans apparently favor re-regulation. But the freight rail safety bill is not a money bill, so it needs 60 votes to pass—and now has 59. That means it needs another Senate Republican, and workers should lobby lawmakers for that last vote.
Six months after the Norfolk Southern (NS) train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, NS President and CEO Alan Shaw wrote an open letter reflecting on the Class I’s “ongoing progress, support and commitment to making things right.”
Railway Age reproduces the complete Aug. 3 letter below:
“How can we help? It’s a question my Norfolk Southern colleagues and I have been asking for the past six months.
“How can we help East Palestine?
“How can we help Darlington Township?
“How can we help the communities impacted by February’s train derailment?
Six months after a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying hazardous materials derailed and burned in East Palestine, Ohio, railroad workers on Thursday urged Congress to pass comprehensive safety legislation to stop their employers from “choosing Wall Street over Main Street.”
“On this somber occasion, rail labor unions once again renew our calls for safety reforms,” the Transportation Trades Department (TTD) of the AFL-CIO, which represents 37 unions, said in a statement. “For years, workers have sounded the alarm about deadly safety conditions in the freight rail industry. The industry’s safety failures contribute to more than 1,000 freight train derailments a year.”