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Federal Comments

TTD Supports Drug & Alcohol Testing Standards For Foreign Air Repair Station Workers

By Admin

April 5, 2024   The Honorable Michael Whitaker Administrator Federal Aviation Administration 800 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, DC  20591       RE:   Drug and Alcohol Testing of Certificated Repair Station Employees Located Outside of the United States                 Docket No. FAA-2012-1058 Dear Administrator Whitaker: On behalf of […]

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TTD Urges FRA To Consider Labor’s Concerns When Evaluating Autonomous Railcar Testing

By Admin

April 1, 2024 Mr. Karl Alexy Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety & Chief Safety Officer Federal Railroad Administration 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE Washington DC, 20590      RE:     Petition for Waiver of Compliance, Georgia Central Railway, L.P. and Heart of Georgia Railroad, Inc.      Docket No. FRA-2023-0066 Dear Mr. Alexy: On behalf of […]

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Reject BNSF’s Request for Permanent Waiver from Safety Measures

By Admin

On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), I am pleased to respond to the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) notice regarding BNSF Railway Company’s petition to make permanent its existing waiver from certain provisions of the Federal railroad safety regulations contained at 49 CFR parts 232 (Brake System Safety Standards for Freight and Other Non-Passenger Trains and Equipment; End-Of-Train Devices), and 229 (Railroad Locomotive Safety Standards). Canadian National Railway Company (CN) and Union Pacific Railroad (UP) are also requesting relief under the existing waiver. TTD consists of 37 affiliated unions representing the totality of rail labor, including freight rail employees.[1] For the reasons outlined below, we ask that the FRA deny this petition. In addition, we endorse the comments filed in this docket by our affiliates, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART-TD).

The existing waiver allows BNSF, CPKC, and CSX to test extending the air flow method (AFM) test intervals from 92 days to 184 days on locomotives equipped with the New York Air Brake (NYAB) CCB–II and Fastbrake air brake systems. The most recent petition requests that the relief granted under the existing waiver be extended to CN and UP. In addition, BNSF is requesting that this relief be made permanent.

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Workers Must Be Front and Center in Clean Energy Transition

By Admin

On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), I am pleased to respond to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) request for information (RFI) on the progression to net-zero emission propulsion technologies for the rail sector. TTD consists of 37 affiliated unions representing the totality of rail labor, including both passenger and freight rail workers.[1] We therefore have a vested interest in this RFI and encourage the DOE to take our input into consideration.

Our affiliate unions represent the vast majority of railroad industry workers engaged in train operations, train dispatching, signal, maintenance of way and mechanical maintenance, inspection, testing, and repair on passenger and freight railroads throughout the United States. Each of these crafts will be impacted in some way by the transition to net-zero rail propulsion technology. Workers in the mechanical crafts, who are responsible for the maintenance, inspection, testing, and repair of locomotives and rail cars, will likely experience the most significant changes to their day-to-day jobs as the rail sector begins to transition to net-zero technology and the technology used in locomotives changes from the current diesel based setup.

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FTA Must Empower Workers to Make Decisions About Fatigue

By Admin

On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), I am pleased to respond to the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) regarding potential standards for hours of service and fatigue risk management programs for transit workers. TTD consists of 37 affiliated unions, including those representing the majority of public transportation workers in the United States, whose safety and livelihoods will be impacted by potential regulations governing hours of service and fatigue risk management for transit employees.[1] In addition, we endorse the comments submitted by our affiliates, the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU) and the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU).

Background

Prior to responding to the substance of this ANPRM, we’d like to first express our strong disapproval of the FTA’s handling of this proceeding. From the beginning of this rulemaking process, the FTA’s noticeable partiality toward the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has been an affront to our members. The FTA has made feeble attempts to engage with the labor organizations whose members will be directly affected by the establishment of hours of service requirements, all the while holding listening sessions that have served as sounding boards for anti-worker and anti-union sentiments. The FTA must consider the perspectives and expertise of those directly involved in providing this essential service to our communities. We urge the FTA to work with labor stakeholders in an open and meaningful way going forward.

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TTD Urges FRA to Consider Labor’s Input for Brightline West “Buy America” Waiver

By Admin

On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), I am pleased to respond to the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) request for comments on a proposed non-availability waiver of Buy America requirements for certain components necessary to complete a high-speed passenger train project between Las Vegas, NV and Rancho Cucamonga, CA. TTD consists of 37 affiliated unions, including those representing the totality of rail labor and workers in construction and manufacturing who will be directly impacted by this potential waiver.[1] We therefore respectfully request that the FRA take our input on this matter into serious consideration.

At the request of the Nevada Department of Transportation (NVDOT) and Brightline West, the FRA seeks to waive its Buy America requirements for the domestic production of the trainset, signal systems, high-speed rail turnout and fire alarm systems required for the high-speed passenger rail project between Las Vegas and Rancho Cucamonga. According to the FRA’s notice, two potential suppliers, Siemens and Alstom, represented they could provide the necessary high-speed rail components that meet Brightline West’s specifications and the applicable FRA safety requirements but could not domestically produce certain components that would be required to meet the specifications.

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Railroads Must Be Prepared for Routine Winter Weather

By Admin

On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), I am pleased to respond to the Association of American Railroads (AAR)’s request to the Federal Railroad Administration to open an emergency docket under 49 CFR 211.45 to provide relief from its waiver from certain provisions contained in 49 CFR 229 and 49 CFR 232.15 for upwards of 14 days. TTD consists of 37 affiliated unions representing the totality of rail labor, including employees on all the Class I railroads covered by the AAR’s request. For the reasons outlined below, we ask that the FRA deny the AAR’s request.

Current weather conditions do not rise to the level of an “emergency event” or “emergency situation” as required under 49 CFR 211.45. Unsurprisingly, in the middle of January, several parts of the country are experiencing very low temperatures and snow. Such conditions occur regularly and railroads should be prepared. Furthermore, this ongoing winter weather event is not as severe as other winter storms that have occurred  in just the last five years.

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TTD Warns Against Increased Distances for Extended-Haul Trains

By Admin

On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), I am pleased to respond to the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) notice regarding Union Pacific Railroad Company’s (UP) petition to extend its waiver from certain provisions contained in 49 CFR 232.213. The current waiver allows UP to operate designated extended-haul trains for distances of up to 1,680 miles, beyond the limit of 1,500 miles stipulated in the regulation. TTD consists of 37 affiliated unions, representing the totality of rail labor, including UP employees.[1] For the reasons outlined below, we ask that the FRA deny Union Pacific’s petition to extend its waiver.

In support of its request, UP states that it reviews with the FRA “the list of trains associated with this waiver at a frequency of no less than once per quarter” and “adjustments are made accordingly.” UP further explains that “over a 56-month period, the incident rate has been no more than .055%, [which were] four events comprised of wheelset, axle, and journal bearing defects.” Per the federal statute governing the Secretary’s ability to grant safety waivers, the Secretary may grant waivers only “if such waiver or suspension is in the public interest and consistent with railroad safety.”[2] UP acknowledges in its waiver extension request that the trains covered by the existing waiver had a higher incident rate, .055%, than extended-haul trains that undergo inspections of 1,500 miles. These trains had a lower incident rate of .036%. While UP claims the difference is “negligible,” it is unwise to claim that additional accidents are negligible, as evident by the East Palestine, Ohio derailment. Delaying required mechanical testing and inspection unequivocally exposes workers and the communities along UP’s rail lines to unnecessary risk and lacks consistency with railroad safety.

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Unions Urge Unified Safety Standards for Transit Sector

By Admin

On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), I am pleased to respond to the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) notice of availability of proposed updates to its National Public Transportation Safety Plan. TTD consists of 37 affiliated unions, including those representing the majority of public transportation workers in the United States, who have a significant interest in ensuring the Public Transportation Safety Certification Training Program (PTSCTP) adequately addresses safety training needs.[1] Additionally, we endorse the comments filed by our affiliates, the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU) and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART-TD).

As the FTA explains, this NPRM proposes to amend the PTSCTP regulation at 49 CFR part 672. Specifically, the proposed rule adds administrative requirements for recipients that are subject to the requirements of the rule, in addition to maintaining the existing minimum training requirements for State Safety Oversight Agency (SSOA) employees and contractors who conduct reviews, inspections, examinations, and other safety oversight activities of public transportation systems, and employees and contractors who are directly responsible for the safety oversight of a rail fixed guideway public transportation system.

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TTD Supports Safer Hazardous Material Transportation Requirements

By Admin

On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), I am pleased to respond to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on the modernization of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR). TTD consists of 37 affiliated unions, representing the totality of rail labor and first responders who are vital to the safe transportation of hazardous materials.[1] We therefore have a vested interest in this matter. Additionally, TTD endorses the comments of our affiliates, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART-TD). We respectfully request that the PHMSA take our feedback into consideration.

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