On behalf of the Transportation Trade Department, AFL-CIO, I urge you to support H.R. 5119, the Safe Aircraft Maintenance Standards Act, when the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee considers it during tomorrow’s markup. This important, bipartisan legislation will help ensure one level of safety and security for all maintenance performed on U.S. aircraft, whether at home or abroad.
As this committee begins to consider Amtrak reauthorization, and the intercity passenger rail networks of the future, we are proud to present a unique perspective from the Amtrak workforce. In addition to the TTD affiliated unions also testifying today, our unions represent workers across nearly every position in the passenger rail network – these are the workers who operate trains, maintain and repair equipment, oversee safe operations along routes, provide high quality customer service both on and off-board, and construct facilities. They are the workers who ensure that the 32 million trips taken on Amtrak every year, across more than 20,000 miles of track, and in nearly every state in this country, are met with the highest level of service and safety possible.
On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), I am pleased to provide comments on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) concerning Flight Attendant Duty Period Limitations and Rest Requirements. By way of background, TTD consists of 33 affiliate unions, including unions representing flight attendants, and unions whose members work cooperatively with flight attendants to maintain safety aboard commercial aircraft. In responding to this notice, TTD strongly endorses the comments filed by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and the Transport Workers Union.
Proponents of “free trade” have long argued that the lowering of trade barriers between nations sparks economic growth by providing cheaper goods for consumers at home and opening new markets for U.S. products abroad. However, those of us in the labor movement have long understood that the realities of free trade rarely live up to the promise. The decks are too often stacked against U.S. workers, and free trade agreements too often allow multi-national corporations to exploit workers throughout the world—all in search of increased profits. Furthermore, the “protections” built into agreements are so rarely enforced as to render them meaningless.
Our nation’s early history and sustained economic growth are intertwined with the use of waterborne transportation to move goods and people to both key population centers and rural communities. Yet today, domestic maritime services are significantly underutilized even as our surface transportation network struggles to keep up with demand and as the U.S. maritime and shipbuilding industries seek out new commercial opportunities. By supporting the deployment of a short sea shipping industry—the use of commercial vessels for the carriage of commodities along American’s seacoasts and inland waterways—we can create good U.S. jobs, enhance sound environmental and energy policies and relieve congestion on existing highways. All with minimal cost to the federal taxpayers.
Since the first U.S. freight trains departed from Baltimore nearly 200 years ago, the freight rail industry has served as the backbone of domestic commerce, providing reliable, safe and responsive service and in the process creating and sustaining good union jobs. The success of the rail industry is premised on the fair treatment and utilization of its frontline workforce, balanced economic regulations and an expectation that railroads will meet their service obligations. Unfortunately, the introduction of an operating model known as Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) threatens to weaken these conditions and undermines our freight rail industry.
After more than ten years and a staggering 36 short-term extensions since the last multi-year surface transportation bill in 2006, then-President Obama signed into law the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act—a five-year reauthorization of our federal surface transportation program—in December 2015.
Whether operating in the dense Northeast Corridor, providing long-distance service that connects rural communities and urban hubs, or partnering with states on regional routes, our intercity passenger rail network is a vital transportation link for millions of people. The service Amtrak provides creates economic growth, reduces congestion on our roadways, and brings the nation closer together.
On February 12, 2009, Colgan Air flight 3407 crashed into a suburban neighborhood in Western NY, killing all 49 people on board and one person on the ground. An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) later revealed that pilot fatigue likely played an important role in inhibiting the pilots’ ability to respond to the adverse conditions that night. By government regulatory standards, the response to this disaster was swift. In 2010, Congress passed the Airline Safety and FAA Extension Act, and in 2011, the DOT and the FAA implemented new rules on airline pilot flight- and duty-time limitations and minimum rest requirements. These science-based rules marked a major step forward in making air travel safer by, among other things, increasing the minimum rest hours required for pilots before flights and setting flight duty limits based on time of day, as well as the number of takeoffs and landings performed by a pilot during each duty period. These reforms helped address the chronic fatigue that plagues our nation’s pilots.
As policymakers and stakeholders continue to negotiate the terms of the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA), we, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers – Transportation Division (SMART-TD), and the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), write to bring your attention to a thus unresolved issue concerning freight rail service between the United States and Mexico and the disparate treatment of rail workers under current law. 
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