SMART - TD Local 306

Sioux City, Mason City & Eagle Grove on UPRR Former C&NW Lines


SMART supports Senate two-person crew provision - 9/11/2014

SMART supports Senate two-person crew provision

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced railroad safety legislation Sept. 10 that continues dialogue on the nation’s rail safety laws.

S. 2784, the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2014, contains language that requires freight trains be crewed with at least one federally certified conductor and one federally certified engineer. The Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers fully supports that requirement.

The issue of single-person train operations has gained national prominence recently when BNSF Railway proposed a contract to some of their operating employees that would remove conductors from trains, a proposal that was voted down this week by the affected employees. BNSF had a substantial train accident in Casselton, N.D., involving a crude oil train Dec. 30 where two-person crews played a vital role in working with first responders to protect the public.

SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich has cautioned that one-person train operations are unsafe. “No one would permit an airliner to fly with just one pilot, even though they can fly themselves. Trains, which cannot operate themselves, should be no different,” he said.

Legislation requiring a minimum of two persons on trains, H.R. 3040, is pending in the House of Representatives. This bill was introduced by U.S. Reps. Michael Michaud (D-Maine) and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) last year and has 80 co-sponsors.

“We thank Sen. Blumenthal for including this provision which maintains current practices. While America’s railroads generally operate with a minimum of one conductor and one engineer, there are a handful of rough operators who are operating unsafe, single-person trains. This legislation will put an end to that unsafe practice,” Previsich said.

The legislation also requires Class I and passenger railroads to install audio and image recording devices in locomotive cabs. “We plan to work with the Senate to try to get this unwarranted proposal removed from the bill,” Previsich said.

An overview of S. 2784 can be found here.

To read the complete text of the bill, click here.

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Senators propose Rail Safety Improvement Act, 2014 - 9/11/2014

Senators propose Rail Safety Improvement Act, 2014

U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) Sept. announced a comprehensive overhaul of rail safety laws and protocols to enforce and enhance safety and reliability following a series of high profile rail catastrophes in New York, Connecticut and nationwide that has undermined public trust in rail infrastructure, safety protocols, management and oversight. This legislation, the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2014, will impact Long Island Railroad, Metro-North, New Jersey Transit, Amtrak and other passenger railroads across the country.

Accidents, derailments and severe service disruptions, including the deadly December 2013 Spuyten Duyvil derailment, the preventable death of Metro-North worker Robert Luden in West Haven, Connecticut in May 2013, the May 2013 derailment of a Metro-North train near Bridgeport that injured many and caused extensive service disruptions and delays, and the numerous catastrophic derailments and explosions of trains transporting crude oil, and other high profile rail catastrophes nationwide have exposed a glaring need for comprehensive reform of the nation’s rail safety laws and protocols.

Schumer and Blumenthal’s bill puts into law many of the recommendations found in the Federal Railroad Administration’s “Operation Deep Dive” report assessing the safety and training plans and practices by Metro-North, as well as the findings of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s own blue-ribbon panel study released last week.

“The deadly Metro North crash, plus so many others across the country, have exposed time-and-again that our passenger and freight railroads must do more to promote a ‘culture of safety’, above all other priorities,” said Sen. Schumer. “That is why Sen. Blumenthal and I have worked to develop a comprehensive rail safety bill that will take the lessons of this tragic crash, plus the expert recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board and others, and make them into tough requirements for our railroads, including a mandate for inward and outward facing cameras on all trains, new requirements for increased rail inspections, a significant boost in fines for safety violations, and more. For too long, railroads have failed to completely heed the lessons of fatal train crashes and this legislation will change that.”

“This major, comprehensive measure will help American railroads move toward 21st century safety and reliability,” said Sen. Blumenthal. “Rigorous public oversight and scrutiny are critical, and that’s where this bill begins. We must assure that safety and reliability standards receive real enforcement, not mere lip service. The watchdog agencies must bite, not just bark, and whistleblowers must be protected. We need a national rail strategy to stop the cascading catastrophes, derailments, spectacular crashes, senseless worker injuries and deaths, and needless mundane delays that all undermine public trust and confidence. This measure seeks to restore public trust and confidence and assure that railroads reflect what commuters and communities demand – safety and reliability, and on time performance, as complementary not conflicting goals. The bill also lays the groundwork for investments in important technology like positive train control (PTC) and other upgrades that are proven to save lives and enhance service. They must be followed by other investments that hopefully will gain bipartisan support, because they benefit our economy and all Americans.”

The bill will:

  • Bolster the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) oversight of our country’s rail systems by authorizing an increase in funding for FRA’s safety and operations work.
  • Require greater FRA accountability for unmet statutory mandates and open NTSB recommendations through regular quarterly reports to Congress.
  • Require the installation and implementation of technology like inward- and outward-facing cameras, alerters and redundant signal protection.
  • Strengthen FRA’s enforcement powers by increasing civil penalties for those who engage in unsafe activity. Civil penalties would be at least $13,000 and up to $500,000 for any safety sensitive violations, and a minimum of $1 million for grossly negligent violations or repeated violations that cause death or injury.
  • Improve railroad operating practices by requiring enhanced inspection practices by commuter railroads.
  • Require greater use of modern inspection technology and stepped up enforcement of speed restrictions.
  • Provide resources for passenger and commuter railroads so they can implement critical technology like Positive Train Control (PTC) by December 2015 deadline.
  • Require coordination between DOT and the FCC to ensure passenger and commuter railroads have access to necessary spectrum to make PTC operate effectively.
  • Require expedited FRA action on the development of rules governing fatigue management plans for railroads.
  • Require safer operating practices for the transportation of crude oil and flammable liquids.
  • Require the national roll out of a confidential close call reporting initiative and the participation by freight, passenger and commuter railroads in the program.
  • Ensure the openness and transparency of railroad safety information.
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Members defeat BNSF proposal to cut train crew size - 9/11/2014

Members defeat BNSF proposal to cut train crew size

A tentative agreement to reduce train crew size on one of the nation’s largest rail carriers has failed, according to the labor union whose members voted on it this week.

The pact would have eliminated on-board conductors on 60 percent of BNSF Railway, which spans the western two-thirds of the country.

Read the complete story at McClatchy D.C. News Service.

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FRA issues proposal on unintended train movement - 9/9/2014

FRA issues proposal on unintended train movement

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that will help protect communities from crude oil and hazardous materials incidents by strengthening requirements for securing unattended freight trains. The proposed rule codifies many of the requirements included in Emergency Order 28, which the FRA issued in August 2013 following the Lac-Megantic accident and strengthens existing regulations for railroad cars containing certain hazardous materials.

“Safety is our top priority,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Today’s action is only the latest in more than two dozen steps we have taken in the last year to further safeguard communities along train routes that carry crude oil and other flammable liquids.

The new measures proposed in the NPRM would require railroads to:

Prevent trains or vehicles transporting specified hazardous materials from being left unattended on a mainline track or side track outside a yard, unless specific securement requirements are followed.Develop a plan identifying such locations or circumstances.Verify securement by qualified persons; and ensure that locks on locomotive cab are secure. Include securement requirements in job briefings.Perform additional inspections by qualified persons when emergency responders have been on equipment.Install locking mechanisms on locomotive doors and repair them in a timely manner.

The rule covers equipment containing poisonous by inhalation (PIH) materials and those defined as Division 2.1 (flammable gas), Class 3 (flammable or combustible liquid), Class 1.1 or 1.2 (explosive) materials, or a hazardous substance listed in 49 CFR 173.31(f)(2). This includes most crude oil moved in the United States.

“While our existing securement regulations have been largely successful, it’s important in light of events over the past year that we take additional steps to mitigate risk here in the United States,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “This rulemaking will solidify our existing securement regulations and provide additional safeguards against the rolling of unattended freight trains, especially those carrying hazardous materials.”

The NPRM is the result of collaborative effort between the industry and other stakeholders who formed a working group to review securement rules, practices and operating procedures over the last year. The working group, convened through the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee in August 2013, submitted its final recommendations for a proposed rule to the FRA in April 2014. The Department has also continued to collaborate with Canada.

The Department of Transportation, the FRA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) have taken more than two dozen actions as part of a comprehensive approach to ensure that the safe transport of hazardous materials by rail is preserved and enhanced. Over the last year, they have issued emergency orders and safety advisories, conducted special inspections such as Operation Classification, and brought together railroad companies and the oil industry to reach an agreement on a series of immediate actions they can take to improve safety including reducing speeds, increasing inspections, using new brake technology, developing improved sampling and testing plans, and investing in first responder training. Additionally, they have issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for a comprehensive rulemaking package regarding the safe transportation of crude oil and plan to announce a proposed rule to address train crew size.

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Union seeks proposals for Section 6 notices - 6/25/2014

Union seeks proposals for Section 6 notices

The SMART Transportation Division is beginning the process of formulating Section 6 notices to be served on rail carriers negotiating under the umbrella of the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC), which will include proposals to increase wages, benefits and improve working conditions.

As mandated by the Railway Labor Act and the current national agreement, these Section 6 notices will be served on most of the nation’s rail carriers on or about Nov. 3, 2014, to become effective no earlier than Jan. 1, 2015.

The serving of the Section 6 notices is the first step in reaching a new national agreement with railroads represented by the NCCC.

The carriers represented by the NCCC also have been working on their own wage and rule notices that they will serve at or about the same time the SMART TD notices are served.

All officers and members are invited to submit proposals for the Section 6 notices to the SMART TD headquarters.

The proposals submitted by members will be catalogued during the months of August and September.

A committee of general chairpersons from the Association of General Chairpersons, District No. 1, will review the proposals submitted and begin to fine-tune those suggestions into the notices to be served on the carriers.

The full Association of General Chairpersons, District No. 1, will then be convened to review and finalize the union’s Section 6 notices.

Soon thereafter, the Section 6 notices will be reproduced and mailed to all U.S. general chairpersons for serving on the affected railroads on or about Nov. 3.

“All affected members will be kept informed regarding the Section 6 notices and developments in negotiations, when possible, through the SMART Transportation Division News and the SMART TD website,” Transportation Division President John Previsich said.

Under the Railway Labor Act, the current national agreement between the SMART TD (UTU) and NCCC will remain in effect until a new agreement is reached.

As specified in the current national agreement, a three-percent general wage increase will be paid on Jan. 1, 2015.

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SMART UTU Local 306

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YOUR Union Meetings are:

Eagle Grove - 2nd Wednesday of each Month; Godfather's Pizza at 8:00 pm

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