ATLANTA, GA—The Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) and its 32 affiliated unions waded into every major transportation policy debate in Washington and focused on expanding transportation investments, reforming safety policy, protecting workers’ rights, and rejecting job-killing trade policies.
“2015 must be the year when we break the stalemate on funding our badly deteriorated transportation system and put millions to work,” said TTD President Edward Wytkind. “Transportation unions have rolled out an agenda that is focused on creating and protecting private and public sector jobs as vital transportation laws are written this year.”
The Executive Committee approved 11 policy statements, which are summarized below:
Eight Principles for Surface Transportation Reauthorization: In just a few months, the Highway Trust Fund will become insolvent unless Congress acts to implement a long-term surface transportation reauthorization bill. Transportation labor calls for a reauthorization bill that: expands highway and transit funding utilizing a gas tax increase or similarly reliable funding source; embraces financing tools that do not harm private and public sector jobs; rejects devolution proposals; restores federal neutrality on transit privatization; advances transit safety and health reforms; permits limited authority to flex federal bus capital funds to transit operations; provides resources for a national freight investment policy; and protects and enhances Buy America policies.
Priorities for FAA Reauthorization: With the FAA reauthorization due to expire at the end of this fiscal year, TTD’s Executive Committee calls on Congress to pass a multi-year bill that makes critical investments in aviation technology and infrastructure, provides stable funding, and advances policies that address workforce issues and make air transportation safer for passengers and employees. Moreover, it is vital that lawmakers and the President stop the debilitating budget cuts of sequestration that undermine important aviation advancements and safety improvements.
Multi-Year Plan for Amtrak Reauthorization: The proposed Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015 (PRRIA) provides a critical reauthorization of Amtrak’s funding for the next four years, but funding levels are inadequate. TTD’s Executive Committee calls for legislation that secures long-term funding, rejects contracting out and privatization mandates, and safeguards the rights, jobs, and wages of rail and construction workers.
Rail Transportation Safety Reform Agenda: Congress must move forward on an expired rail safety reauthorization bill that finally improves railroad operating practices that currently expose workers and communities to avoidable safety risks. Rail safety reforms must target chronic employee fatigue, bar the use of one-person freight train crews, and implement safety-related technology.
Safe Hazardous Materials Transportation: With an increase in the shipment of hazardous materials across the country – particularly on freight trains – it is vital that firefighters receive adequate training to respond to emergencies. Congress must pass a reauthorization bill that commits adequate funding for hazmat training programs. TTD’s Executive Committee also supports provisions of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) proposed crude-by-rail regulations, which would require an increase in the information available to emergency responders about the movement of such shipments, and calls on PHMSA to issue stronger regulations regarding the transport of lithium batteries in our nation’s skies.
Ground NAI’s Flag of Convenience Airline: For the past year, transportation labor has waged an aggressive effort to stop an attempt by Norwegian Air International (NAI) to obtain U.S. government approval to launch new transatlantic air service based on a flag of convenience business plan. TTD’s Executive Committee reaffirms its calls for rejection of NAI’s application on the basis that NAI’s business plan is a clear violation of Article 17 bis of the U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement.
Safety Rules Needed Before FAA Permits Widespread Use of Drones: To ensure safe integration into the National Airspace System, the widespread commercial application of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS/”drones”) must not be permitted until the U.S. government establishes clear and enforceable operating standards. Transportation labor calls on the FAA to set rules requiring that drone operations meet all of the standards imposed on those who currently use the airspace, including operator training and certification, and safety restrictions on airspace access. If properly regulated with strong safety standards in effect, the safe integration of commercial drones is possible.
Workers’ Rights and National Security: Fairness for Military Sealift Command Employees: TTD’s Executive Committee rejects the Military Sealift Command’s (MSC) baseless attempts to use the pretense of national security concerns to deny workers the right to join a union. It is inaccurate and untrue to claim that the goals of national security are incompatible with collective bargaining and union representation, and Executive Order 12171, which concerns workers engaged in national security, must not be interpreted to cover MSC employees or other civil service mariners.
Reject Fast Track: Transportation labor calls on Congress to reject Trade Promotion Authority, or “Fast Track,” and develop a new plan that works for our nation’s transportation workers and enhances our collective competitiveness. Our nation’s trade goals should be to strengthen American industries, put workers in a position to succeed, and promote strong labor, safety, and human rights laws in this country and with our trading partners. We need to end Fast Track and create a trade policy that works for transportation workers.
Time to Raise Motorcoach Market Entry Standards: Over the past several decades, the diminishment of “entry” standards imposed on intercity bus carriers has severely limited the ability to ensure that only companies willing and able to uphold federal safety requirements are granted operating authority. TTD’s Executive Committee encourages the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to begin raising market entry standards by increasing the existing minimum insurance requirements.
U.S. Postal Service Reforms that Protect Quality Service, Good Jobs: TTD’s Executive Committee continues its support for a strong, financially sound Postal Service. Reforms to ensure the agency’s long-term financial solvency should not come at the expense of employees or customers. TTD and its member unions will continue to work with elected leaders to stabilize the USPS and give it a chance to modernize and grow its service.