San Antonio, TX – Transportation labor leaders laid out an aggressive strategy yesterday focused on shaping the President’s $1 trillion transportation infrastructure package and tackling unprecedented challenges faced by frontline transportation workers. Some of those challenges include the looming transportation automation wave, risks to jobs and safety, and reckless political forces taking aim at workers’ rights to bargain collectively for good wages and benefits.
“We committed to rally behind a $1 trillion infrastructure package that doesn’t rely mostly on tax incentives but instead includes an infusion of billions in new federal funding and embraces high labor standards,” said Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD). “We cannot toll our way to modernizing and expanding our transportation system and creating millions of new jobs.”
TTD hosted Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) for a discussion on the pressing issues affecting America’s transportation workers, including the need to advance a robust infrastructure package. Denham is a senior member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and chairman of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.
“Our nation’s transportation system, and the men and women who build, operate and maintain it, play a crucial role in keeping our economy strong,” Denham said. “I look forward to working with transportation labor leaders to advance strategic infrastructure investments that will rebuild our vast transportation network and, in the process, drive middle-class job creation in California and throughout the nation.”
Transportation labor leaders laid out key issues for 2017 and beyond, including:
- Automated technologies will drastically change the nature of work in transportation industries, will put millions of jobs at risk and pose new safety and security threats requiring rigorous federal regulations.
- Any transportation infrastructure plan advanced by the President and Congress must include a significant infusion of new federal funds and embrace strong worker protections, labor standards and Buy America requirements.
- Transportation labor will engage in an aggressive effort to stop national right-to-work legislation, which is part of an orchestrated, deliberate attempt by extremists to crush the wages and benefits of working Americans.
- Too many airline customer service agents are verbally or physically assaulted on the job. Federal legislation must mitigate the problem by providing clear protocols for violent situations, preventing violent travelers from boarding planes and subjecting those who assault customer service agents to arrest and prosecution.
- Billions in new transportation investments must be used to not only grow the economy, but to maximize middle-class job creation through vigorous and strongly enforced Buy America policies.
- Transportation unions are committed to policies that strengthen and expand freight rail and will oppose reforms that would weaken the freight rail sector’s ability to expand business, invest in its network and workforce, and support middle-class job creation.
- The Trump Administration and Congress must uphold cargo preference laws that ensure a viable U.S. merchant marine, strengthen our national defense and support mariner jobs.
- Transportation unions will mobilize against the Official Time Reform Act, which is a thinly veiled attack on public sector unions and federal employees.
The Executive Committee heard a presentation from Wytkind, who was appointed to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s federal advisory committee on transportation automation, on the safety and security challenges as well as massive job impacts from emerging automation technologies.
“Every sector of the transportation industry faces massive change and significant job loss from the development and deployment of automated technologies,” said Wytkind. “Our priority going forward is to ensure that these technologies are tools for frontline workers to enhance safety, security and service, rather than enablers of massive job and wage destruction.”