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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Transit unions seek worker protections against automation impacts


The Transportation Trades Department (TTD) of the AFL-CIO is asking Congress and the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to prepare for the impact that automation is likely to have on the public transportation workforce.

As Congress and the Trump administration sets policies and regulations to facilitate the further deployment of automation, it's imperative that "workforce impacts and mitigation strategies are considered and addressed in these debates," TTD officials stated in a recent policy paper.

How and to what extent technologies such as automated vehicles will affect public transit remains to be seen, TTD officials wrote. However, they noted that automated shuttles and micro-transit pilot projects already are taking hold in some U.S. cities.

TTD officials asked federal lawmakers and government officials to consider several policies. Among them:
• Transit agencies must provide employees with advance notice of automated vehicle technologies and the impact on the current workforce;
• Transit agencies' use of automated technologies must be done through the negotiation of implementing agreements with affected employees and the preservation of current collective bargaining rights;
• USDOT must continue to set safety standards for transit vehicles and ensure the qualifications of those responsible for those vehicles; and
• Legislation or regulations designed to facilitate the deployment of automated vehicle technologies must mandate that a human operator remain onboard and available to take over operations in the event of an emergency.

"As transportation automation advances, transportation labor is committed to ensuring that we use technology to enhance safety, security, service and efficiency, and does not become a strategy to crush wages and jettison millions of middle class jobs," the policy paper stated.