Teamsters: Proposed Rail Security Rules Ignore Employees’ Safety Role

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff: Dec. 12, 2006, Press Conference

WASHINGTON – Proposed rules by the Transportation Security Administration ignore necessary employee training and protections against employer retaliation, Teamsters say.

However, the Teamsters Union is still reviewing the rules, but so far has determined that the proposals are inadequate, according to the union.

“The White House has failed again to recognize that the true eyes and ears of the rail system are its employees,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President. “Our members are working on the rails night and day. They know about the security lapses on the rails, yet the railroads refuse to provide quality training for them in preparation for emergencies.”

Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to “vastly strengthen the security of the nation’s rail systems in the highest threat urban areas,” the agency said.

The proposed rule is part of a package of new security measures that will require freight rail carriers to ensure 100 percent positive hand-off of Toxic Inhalation Hazard (TIH) materials, establish security protocols for custody transfers of TIH rail cars in the high threat urban areas, and appoint a rail security coordinator to share information with the federal government, as well as formalizing the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) freight and passenger rail inspection authority.

However, this is nothing in the proposed rule that would compel a rail corporation to provide effective emergency situation training for employees, Teamsters claim. The thousands of miles of tracks throughout the country are wide open for a terrorist attack or act of sabotage, and the security of the public and rail employees is at risk, Teamsters say.

“We call on the Bush administration and its TSA to mandate emergency situation training for the thousands of rail employees on the job every day,” said John Murphy, Director of the Teamsters Rail Conference. “And we call on them to create adequate employee protections so that those employees reporting safety and security breakdowns will not face retaliation.”

The Teamsters Rail Conference represents more than 70,000 rail workers employed as locomotive engineers, trainmen and maintenance of way workers across the United States as members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees.

– PRNewswire-U.S. Newswire