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December 2008

Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

President-Elect Obama Could Champion Crucial Rail Industry Causes, Labor Unions and Associations Say


While railroads and rail labor unions extolled Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) victory in the presidential election last month, they also contemplated his Administration’s impact on rail issues.

Speaking on behalf of the industry, Association of American Railroads (AAR) officials congratulated Obama on his election win.

“Throughout the campaign, President-Elect Obama has emphasized the importance of rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure,” they said in a prepared statement. “Expansion of the freight-rail network and development of additional passenger-rail capacity will provide an environmentally sound means to accomplish that goal.”

Obama has been an ardent supporter of Amtrak and U.S. passenger-rail service in America, has long recognized the need to fully invest in the nation’s transportation infrastructure and has supported public- private partnerships as a means to finance rail projects, AAR officials said.

“We look forward to working with the new Administration and Congress to ensure that the rail industry is well positioned to help America achieve its true economic potential,” they said.

Standing By

American Public Transportation Association (APTA) officials also “stand ready” to work with Obama’s Administration on revitalizing the economy, creating jobs, reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil and combating climate change.

“Coming from Chicago, a city with a large public transportation system, President-Elect Obama has seen firsthand the crucial role that public transportation has in creating jobs and economic development,” said APTA President William Millar.

The United Transportation Union (UTU) plans to work closely with Obama & Co., too. He is the first presidential candidate to promise in writing that he stands behind the union’s objectives, said UTU International President Mike Futhey.

In a letter to the UTU dated July 5, Obama wrote that the nation’s transportation system must be protected by proper labor standards, trains should be adequately staffed and rail workers must be protected from fatigue.

“My administration will preserve and promote policies that recognize the value of transportation workers. I will preserve the sanctity of Railroad Retirement and Federal Employers’ Liability Act,” he wrote. “My administration [also] will push for Amtrak, commuter-rail and public-transit system funding, and ensuring strong employment levels well into the future.”

“We have every reason to believe he will fulfill [his] commitment,” said Futhey.

‘Real Work Starts Now’

The Teamsters — parent organization to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, and Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division — also look forward to working closely with the new Administration.

“Let’s get this country unified and working for regular, middle-class Americans again,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “We elected a great man, but we can’t stop here because our real work starts now.”

Meanwhile, officials at the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department (TTD) believe the new Administration can rebuild the nation’s middle class by empowering workers to organize new unions and bargain collectively. Obama also can address investments in the nation’s aging transportation infrastructure and advance long-overdue safety and security reforms, according to TTD, which represents 32 unions in several industries, including the rail industry.

“President-Elect Obama and Vice President-Elect Biden give our members hope that our government will once again fight for them,” said TTD President Edward Wytkind. “They are the right leaders at a crucial moment in our history to bring about the lasting change that millions of working people fought for in this election.”


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