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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

BLET voices opposition to rail antitrust act


Railroads and the Association of American Railroads have gained an ally in their opposition to the Railroad Antitrust Enforcement Act of 2009 (S. 146/H.R. 233): the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET).

The union’s top officials recently sent letters to the Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee, Senate Judiciary Committee, House Judiciary Committee, and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee stating that the BLET opposes the bills because they “would put railroads under the same antitrust laws that apply to most types of business instead of sending rail mergers and customer-carrier
disputes to the Surface Transportation Board (STB),” according to a prepared statement.

Introduced earlier this year by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), S. 146 and H.R. 233 would repeal railroads’ antitrust exemption; permit the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission to review mergers under antitrust law; ensure STB rulings and regulations conform to antitrust laws; and enable state attorneys general and private parties to sue for treble damages and pursue court orders to halt “anti-competitive rail conduct.”

"While carriers, labor and shippers have not been uniformly satisfied with all processes and decisions of the STB, we believe that this oversight has served its public purpose well, as evidenced by the industry's renaissance over the past decade," wrote BLET National President Ed Rodzwicz.

Instead of enacting the legislation, BLET officials encourage increased cooperation between rail labor, government, shippers and carriers.

"A short-term gain for some shippers could result in crippling the industry just as the nation's dependence on railroads becomes critical," Rodzwicz said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/3/2009