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.
The United States is in the midst of an opioid epidemic, affecting hundreds of thousands of Americans across race, gender and socio-economic status, and the devastation to our communities has been profound. Transportation workers are not immune from drug and alcohol abuse and are rightfully held to higher standards through federal testing requirements because of […]
Driver fatigue presents one of the greatest safety threats to commercial bus and truck drivers, their passengers, and the people with whom they share the roads. This problem will not go away without further action by the federal government and the rethinking of the current deregulatory approach. In fact, the number of people killed in […]
The United States Postal Service (USPS) and its hundreds of thousands of hard working employees provide an integral and irreplaceable service, delivering mail via almost every mode of transportation to every community in the nation, and helping to keep our economy running. It does so without the use of taxpayer funding, and despite Washington’s unceasing […]
Automation is certain to impact every sector of transportation and its workforce. From automated vehicles on the ground and ships at sea, to unmanned aerial vehicles and the myriad applications of robotics, the pace and complexity of new technologies under development are significant.
The needs of working people must take center stage in COVID-19 policy debatesRead More