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TTD Calls for A Pro-Worker, Pro-Safety Regulatory Agenda

U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC  20590

RE: DOT-OST-2021-0036

On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), I am pleased to respond to the Department of Transportation’s request for comment on its notice entitled Notification of Regulatory Review. TTD consists of 33 affiliate unions representing workers in all modes of transportation. We therefore have a vested interest in this policy.[1]

The notice announces DOT’s intention to review its existing regulations and other agency actions to align with recent executive actions regarding public health, climate change, and regulatory processes. As noted, Executive Order 13990 sets a national “…commitment to empower our workers and communities, promote and protect our public health and the environment … and the creation of the well-paying union jobs necessary to deliver on these goals.” This order directed all executive departments and agencies to conduct a review of regulations to ensure that regulatory policies align with these priorities. Executive Order 13992 further directed executive departments to rescind any orders, rules, regulations, guidelines, or policies implementing or enforcing revoked executive orders, stating that “executive departments and agencies … must be equipped with the flexibility to use robust regulatory action to address national priorities.”

TTD welcomes and applauds President Biden’s clear executive orders. We concur that robust regulations and policies are needed to promote well-paying union jobs and the safety and dignity of workers. Transportation workers are vital for the health, security, and success of our country. This past year has shown us exactly how much we rely on our transportation system to deliver critical cargo, enforce health guidelines, and ensure the continuous operation of essential functions. Workers represented by TTD affiliated unions have gone into work facing uncertainty and personal risk to ensure that our transportation system is there when we need it. Their sacrifices underscore the need for a strong regulatory agenda that puts their needs at the forefront.

During the previous administration, DOT has neglected to properly wield its authority and has made minimal to no progress to improve safety for working people. There have been numerous issues that have posed direct threats to transportation workers and system safety where the previous administration has failed to provide decisive leadership and has instead abdicated its authority to the industry itself, even in the face of issues which posed direct threats to transportation workers and system safety.[2] Trump’s DOT also failed to make progress on a number of key congressional mandates that would protect workers and create jobs, and instead focused on working with industry to find ways to eliminate worker protections. At the same time, some modal agencies directed focus towards rubberstamping nearly every request from corporations to cease compliance with long held standards.

DOT now has the opportunity to assert its leadership to support transportation workers by proactively ensuring that their work environments are safe and minimizing risks. The transportation industry is continually adapting to evolving conditions, and DOT has a duty to examine the realities of today’s industry. It is critical that the Department understands where existing regulations are no longer keeping up with emergent needs such as new operational models or technologies. DOT has a responsibility to ensure that new technologies and practices are properly regulated before inviting unneeded risks such as fatigue, unfair treatment, and unsafe conditions into our transportation networks. Our transportation workers need a vigilant and active DOT because safety only comes through diligent effort.

DOT also has the ability to craft and defend regulatory frameworks that ensure the transportation industry provides good middle-class jobs and can expand economic opportunity. Existing regulations that preserve the rights and jobs of workers, guarantee living wages, and ensure that federal spending benefits U.S. workers and companies are key tenets of a pro-worker regulatory regime. Regulations and other policies that promote domestic industries and job growth must be prioritized, implemented, and fully enforced.

We believe the best way for DOT to achieve a pro-safety, pro-worker, pro-union agenda is to include frontline workers and their unions in every aspect of the regulatory process and oversight of the industry. Workers are the undisputed experts in implementing transportation safety and operations—because they quite literally do it every day for a living. Their insight is indispensable, and we call on DOT to ensure their voices are heard in the review, crafting, and enforcement of regulations. This is particularly salient as the transportation sector continues to innovate rapidly, and we look to generational efforts to build transportation infrastructure projects that will have transformative effects for the nation’s economy and workforce. Transportation labor must continue to be a key partner in these developments.

Finally, while not an exhaustive list, please find attached a number of regulatory priorities TTD has previously submitted to the administration.[3] We appreciate the opportunity to comment on DOT’s regulatory review and look forward to working with the Department going forward.

Sincerely,

Greg Regan
President

PDF Version

[1] Attached is a list of TTD’s 33 affiliated unions.

[2] https://ttd.org/news-and-media/fta-fails-to-protect-transit-workers-from-violent-assaults/

[3] https://ttd.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Transportation-FINAL.pdf

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