WASHINGTON — Greg Regan and Shari Semelsberger, President and Secretary-Treasurer of the Transportation Trades Department (TTD) of the AFL-CIO, issued this statement in recognition of Rail Safety Week 2023:
“As America’s largest transportation labor federation, we are proud to represent the totality of freight rail labor unions and their members. For years, the rail labor movement has advocated for increased rail safety measures and protections for workers. As our industry partners recognize Rail Safety Week and tout their efforts to stop track tragedies involving the public, we urge them to also commit to improving safety for workers and reverse the worsening rail safety record.
“Every year, thousands of lives are claimed in rail crossing and trespassing incidents across the country. While we strive to get this number down to zero, we must also commit to the same safety goals for rail workers who are severely or fatally injured while on the job. Days ago, a CSX Carman and member of the TCU/BRC was fatally injured on the job. Earlier this year, two CSX conductor trainees and SMART-TD union members were fatally injured in a span of weeks. Before that, a Norfolk Southern conductor and BLET member was killed on the job. These are but a few examples of many preventable worker deaths.
“Rail unions have been outspoken about safety shortcomings, warning of the destruction that can follow accidents or derailments. The nation saw first-hand the effects of these shortcomings during Norfolk Southern’s catastrophic derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, earlier this year and the dozens of major derailments that followed. Prioritization of profits by freight rail companies and the tens of thousands of jobs they have eliminated has put safety on the backburner and poses a danger to rail workers, customers, and communities.
“No one knows better than front-line workers the risks of working on freight trains and on the tracks. Two-person crews, proper protection of track workers working in the rail right of way, robust train car and locomotive inspections, and more thorough training requirements are bare-minimum standards that could help to fortify safety and decrease incidents. We will not stop fighting to raise the bar for rail safety on behalf of workers and the communities they serve.”