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6/5/2003



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

UTU shares transportation-issue concerns with top federal officials


This week, United Transportation Union officials have been meeting with top federal transportation officials — including U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and Federal Railroad Administrator Allan Rutter — to discuss a variety of transportation safety and security issues, according to a news item on UTU's Web site.


Union officials asked Mineta to "head off" U.S. Department of Homeland Security's and the Justice Department's initiative that would require extensive background checks of all rail employees involved in hazardous-materials transportation. The checks could affect the employment of long-time rail workers who "might have committed a youthful prank even though they are no threat to national security," UTU officials said.


Union officials also urged Rutter to reconsider FRA's support of railroads' plans to prohibit rail workers from riding on the sides of rail cars engaged in locomotive remote-control (LRC) operations.


"The risk from slips, trips and falls while walking alongside cars in mud, ice and snow is far greater than a chance of injury while being in a four-point or three-point stance on the side of a rail car," said UTU International President Byron Boyd Jr.


Union Pacific Railroad is equipping LRC crews with miner-type lanterns built into hard hats and clip-on microphones to enable remote-control operators to free both hands, UTU officials said, adding that there are fewer radio communications during LRC operations.


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