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My railroad story began 43 years ago. My first exposure to the railroad industry was through work on a maintenance gang for the former Burlington Northern Railroad headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota. Since then, I’ve worn many different hats and covered a lot of track.
Every mile in my journey has been valuable. Each stop along the way has helped shape and build my appreciation for the work we do. And I’ve seen enough to understand that a strong economy goes hand in hand with a strong railroad industry.
I’ve been an advocate for the industry my entire career. With practice, I’ve gotten better about understanding the implications of my story and sharing it with elected officials. It’s clear that the ebbs and flows in our industry (and our nation) are tied directly to the level of legislative and regulatory support in Washington and at the state and local levels.
Develop Your Story — Everyone in our industry has a story. It starts with where you started and what you’ve experienced and learned along the way. It wraps up with what you need from your elected officials for your business to continue and thrive. Here are some considerations:
• What role does your company play in the industry? What is the impact of your employees, locations and type of work? • Is there anything the government is doing that is keeping you from operating safely and efficiently? • How has your business been impacted by regulations, such as the PTC mandate, FRA Part 243 Minimum Training Standards and FRA Part 219 Drug & Alcohol Testing? • Have you been or could you be impacted by transportation funding, such as the Short Line Railroad Tax Credit, BUILD grants and other infrastructure investments? • What type of legislation and regulatory environment does your company need to keep people working safety in a competitive marketplace?
Share Your Story — Your story is compelling to elected officials because it connects a face to the issues confronting our industry. Elected officials want to know what it takes to keep people working in good-paying jobs that contribute to the safe and efficient movement of goods and people. You are a firsthand witness who can provide expert testimony. It’s time to start verbalizing your story to employees, others in the industry and, most importantly, to elected officials.
Join Us for Railroad Day on the Hill — Every spring, annual Railroad Day gives everyone a chance to share their railroad story with elected officials and their staff in Washington. Go. Listen. Learn. Connect with others in the industry and share your story. It is an exhilarating and worthwhile experience.
Contact Your Elected Officials — If it’s not practical for you to come to Washington, please reach out to your elected representatives with a call, email or letter. Tell them your story and the issues important to your business. Check out the NRC website for a sample email/letter and key issues facing our industry: www.nrcma.org/advocacy.
Host a Grassroots Event — The NRC established its grassroots program in 2012 to give members of Congress firsthand exposure to and knowledge of rail industry operations. Since then, elected officials have met with employees at dozens of grassroots events at NRC member facilities and construction project sites. Contact the NRC to schedule an event.
Get Involved with the NRC — Please consider joining the NRC to help stay up to date on issues facing our industry. In the process, you will personally benefit from networking opportunities as well as education, safety and events to advance your career.
The NRC recently established a Policy & Legislative Committee to enhance our advocacy efforts. This development is a sign of the importance of advancing our legislative and regularly priorities. When specific legislation is being considered, we will ask our members to contact their elected officials.
Your story matters. I will be tweeting my Railroad Story (#RailroadStory) to support our industry. I hope you will too.
"Building a Safer and Stronger Railway Construction Industry Together!”
— Jim Hansen, NRC Chairman