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UTU's Boyd to freight roads: Support our legislative needs and we'll back yours

United Transportation Union might back a repeal of the 4.3-cents-per-gallon diesel fuel tax if freight railroads support efforts to preserve and expand a national intercity passenger-rail network, and legislation that would guarantee train crews adequate rest.
That's a back-scratching deal UTU International President Byron Boyd Jr. proposed during a June 14 speech before National Press Club in Washington, D.C., according to a June 17 news item on the union's Web site.
Boyd believes many freight railroads have failed to cancel "harsh" worker availability policies and are exhibiting lukewarm support for a national intercity passenger-rail network.
UTU is pressing lawmakers to pass legislation that would guarantee train and engine service employees adequate rest — scrapping policies that require operating crews be available for work 30 days a month.
"Railroad operating crews are responsible for trains carrying deadly chemicals through populated areas and the public is … at risk if train crews do not have adequate rest," said Boyd.
To prod railroads' support, UTU would help lobby to repeal the fuel tax, which Congress imposed in 1993 as a deficit-reduction measure.
Monies from a similar tax on airlines and truckers are placed in aviation and highway trust funds, but railroads' taxes are transferred into a general fund. Railroad officials believe the industry would save more than $170 million annually if Congress repeals the tax.

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More News from 6/17/2002