WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on Wednesday asked oil-by-rail leaders to create a tank car fit to carry the kinds of fuel involved in recent fiery derailments even as he dodged lawmaker questions about when such a plan would be ready.
Rail shipments of oil have been on the rise in regions that lack sufficient pipelines such as North Dakota’s Bakken energy patch, where production is nearing 1 million barrels per day and roughly 72 percent of that fuel moves on the tracks.
The Rail Workers Hazardous Materials Training Program announces three HazMat/Chemical Emergency Response Training Programs will be held this spring in Houston, Texas.
These programs address U.S. Department of Transportation and the Occupational Health and safety Administration required training in addition to procedures, levels of response and worker protection in a hazardous materials emergency or release, weapons of mass destruction awareness and the incident command system. The training also provides completion of the OSHA 10-Hour General Industry Outreach requirements.
The programs are delivered using interactive classroom instruction, small group activities, hands-on drills and a simulated hazmat response in full safety gear.
The Rail Workers Hazardous Materials Training Program is funded to provide this training by a federal grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).
These five-day hazmat training courses will provide rail workers the essential knowledge, skills, and response actions in the case of an unintentional release. These tools will allow rail workers to protect themselves, their co-workers and their communities.
The funding provides the following student expenses: air travel, lodging and meals. In addition, an incentive of $600 per week is available to all training participants of these programs, except those who are able to secure regular pay through their employer, or are paid union officers.
Training will be conducted at the Houston Fire Department’s Val Jahnke Training Facility, 8030 Braniff St. Houston, TX 77061. Programs begin Sunday evenings at 7 p.m. and conclude Fridays at 1 p.m.
Students may be asked to travel on Saturdays to meet program start times or where substantial reductions in airfare warrant.
Register now by completing the attached application form and emailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org, or send by U.S. mail to: Henry Jajuga, Director, RWHMTP, 17530 Bering Bridge Lane Humble, TX 77346, Please make sure to select one of the following dates: April 27-May 2, 2014, June 1-6, 2014, or June 8-13, 2014.
For additional information, please contact Henry Jajuga via email. For telephone inquiries, please call (281) 812-6436, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. central standard time.
The High-Speed & Intercity Passenger Rail program (HSIPR) doesn’t just mean faster trains and improved transportation choices for travelers across the country – it’s also strengthening the economy and creating jobs for people who may have never been on a train. So far, the U.S. Department of Transportation has invested $808 million in multi-state procurements of next-generation rail equipment.
What have we got in return?
Across the country, our Buy America program, which requires 100 percent of all rail equipment to be American made, is spurring economic growth and laying a foundation for a passenger rail network that is safer, faster, more reliable, and offers more service.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Former Charlotte mayor Anthony Foxx is expected to be sworn-in as the U.S. Secretary of Transportation on Tuesday after he officially resigned his position with the city on Monday afternoon.
Foxx resigned as Charlotte’s mayor during a special meeting with city council on Monday afternoon.
Read the complete article at television station WBTV.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Charlotte mayor Anthony Foxx has cleared a major hurdle in his bid for Secretary of Transportation. His nomination cleared a Senate committee on June 10.
According to committee chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved the nominations of Mayor Anthony Foxx, to be Secretary of Transportation, and Ms. Penny Pritzker, to be Secretary of Commerce.
Increasing the contributions of the SMART Transportation Division’s input in shaping public transportation policy, SMART Transportation Division General Secretary & Treasurer John Previsich May 30 was named to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Freight Advisory Committee by DOT Secretary Ray LaHood.
The committee is a diverse group of professionals that will provide advice and recommendations aimed at improving the national freight transportation system.
LaHood said a strong freight transportation system is critical to the nation’s economy and is essential for helping meet President Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015.
“The strength of our economy and the strength of our national freight system go hand in hand,” LaHood said. “The members of this committee understand firsthand the critical importance of freight movement, and their valuable insight will help ensure that our system is more secure and better connected.”
Previsich was nominated for the panel by SMART Transportation Division President Mike Futhey.
“This appointment will permit the concerns of our members in the rail, airline and bus transportation industries to be placed squarely on the table for consideration and inclusion in the talks leading to the establishment of a ‘national freight plan’ for the 21st century,” Previsich said.
“The inclusion of labor representatives at the highest level of such discussions is an opportunity for input into the decision making process that will benefit our members, and all of labor, for years to come.
“The Obama administration deserves credit for ensuring that the interests of working people are a part of the nation’s long term transportation planning.”
Members of the committee provide various perspectives on freight transportation and represent various modes of transportation, geographic regions, and policy areas. Freight customers and providers, labor representatives, safety experts and government entities are all represented.
By engaging members representing diverse interests, the committee will provide recommendations to the secretary of transportation on how DOT can improve its freight transportation policies and programs.
The DOT solicited nominations in February and LaHood selected members with input from the MAP-21 Freight Implementation Team, as well as the Freight Policy Council, an internal body of DOT leadership created to facilitate cross-modal implementation of freight provisions in the recently signed surface transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP-21. MAP-21 established a national freight policy and called for the creation of a National Freight Strategic Plan.
Over the last four years, the Obama Administration has made considerable investments in our national freight network. Through four rounds of the TIGER Grant program, DOT has directed $1 billion toward projects that primarily address freight. This includes more than $650 million to projects that strengthen freight rail infrastructure, reduce freight bottlenecks and alleviate congestion issues.
Members will serve two-year terms and meet at least three times per year. The first NFAC meeting is scheduled for June 25, 2013, at the Department of Transportation and will include an overview of MAP-21 freight provisions and preliminary identification of NFAC activities.
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold a confirmation hearing on transportation secretary nominee Anthony Foxx May 22, according to Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.).
President Obama announced April 29 Anthony Foxx as his nominee for the next Secretary of Transportation.
Foxx is currently the mayor of Charlotte, N.C, which he helped turn around since taking office in 2009. Both the city and country were going through a “bruising economic crisis,” President Obama said.
“The economy is growing. There are more jobs, more opportunity,” he said. “And if you ask Anthony how that happened, he’ll tell you that one of the reasons is that Charlotte made one of the largest investments in transportation in the city’s history.
“Since Anthony took office, they’ve broken ground on a new streetcar project that’s going to bring modern electric tram service to the downtown area. They’ve expanded the international airport. And they’re extending the city’s light rail system. All of that has not only helped create new jobs, it’s helped Charlotte become more attractive to business.”
The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) bus operation is manned by SMART Transportation Division operators and mechanics.
President Obama said that one of the best ways we can grow our economy and rebuild opportunity for the middle class is by putting more Americans back to work by investing in rebuilding our infrastructure.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama proposed a “Fix-It-First” program to put more people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs.
“We need to modernize the infrastructure that powers our economy. We need more high-speed rail, and Internet, and high-tech schools, and self-healing power grids, and bridges, and tunnels, and ports that help us ship products all around the world stamped with three proud words: Made in America. That’s how we’re going to attract more businesses. That’s how we’re going to create more jobs. That’s how we’re going to stay competitive in this global economy.”
President Obama also thanked current Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood for his hard work and dedication to public service.
“Over the past four years, thanks to Ray’s leadership, we’ve built or improved more than 350,000 miles of road — enough to circle the world more than 14 times. We’ve upgraded more than 6,000 miles of rail — enough to go coast to coast and back. We’ve repaired or replaced more than 20,000 bridges, and helped put tens of thousands of construction workers back on the job.
“He is a good man, and has been an outstanding public servant and a model for the kind of bipartisan approach to governance that I think we need so badly in this town,” President Obama said.
Foxx’s transportation credentials include his push for expanding the city’s LYNX streetcar to UNC-Charlotte, creating the Charlotte Regional Intermodal Facility that transfers cargo between trucks and trains, and building a new runway at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport.
Foxx was born on April 30, 1971, in Charlotte. He was first elected to the Charlotte City Council in 2005, and was elected mayor on November 3, 2009, winning 51.5 percentof the vote and defeating his City Council colleague, Republican John Lassiter. He won a second term on November 8, 2011, winning more than two-thirds of the vote against Republican Scott Stone.
Heroism has no timetable, no expectation, no formula. It is displayed instantaneously and accompanied only by rare courage. Enter, center stage, two UTU heroes – Amtrak conductors Richard d’Alessandro and Loxie Sanders – a couple of regular rails, represented by the UTU and seemingly little different than neighbors down the street.
Their time of extreme selfless bravery came the night of June 24, when a tractor-trailer, traveling at high-speed, plowed directly into Amtrak’s westbound California Zephyr near Lovelock, Nev. The crunch of steel meeting steel at a highway-rail grade crossing is gut wrenching; the derailing of rail passenger cars, unnerving; the sudden and rapid spread of all-consuming fire, deadly; and the presence of thick smoke, terrifying. It was at that moment that d’Alessandro and Sanders became heroes. Nobody nominated them. Nobody asked them. Nobody expected it of them. Such is heroism. With passengers disoriented, injured and frightened — many seemingly hopelessly trapped in two burning passenger cars – d’Alessandro and Sanders demonstrated why highly trained passenger-train conductors are essential for passenger and train safety. d’Alessandro, initially knocked unconscious by the horrendous collision, awoke to find he was lying outside his passenger car on the ground, an arm broken and finger missing. In complete disregard for his own life, and ignoring his painful injuries, d’Alessandro climbed back into the flaming cars in search of disoriented and injured passengers. First one, then another, and still another, he led and assisted them to safety through emergency exit windows and into waiting arms on the ground. Only when the two no longer could hear voices or find additional passengers did they take leave of the burning passenger cars.
Then Sanders, suffering smoke inhalation and a severely burned hand, remembered conductor Laurette Lee. Where was she? Once again, he climbed back into the mouth of burning and smoke-filled hell. Finding her dead beneath a metal door, Sanders lifted her body and carried it outside and away from the inferno. Among the first to visit d’Alessandro and Sanders in the hospital following the accident was Amtrak President Joseph Boardman, who had taken the first available flight from Washington, D.C., to be at the scene of this horrific accident that claimed six lives and would have claimed many more had it not been for the selfless actions of d’Alessandro and Sanders. On Nov. 3, d’Alessandro (UTU Local 166, Salt Lake City) and Sanders (UTU Local 1525, Carbondale, Ill.) were formally recognized in Washington, D.C., by the U.S. Department of Transportation for heroism. In presenting the awards, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood cited both for saving lives “that went above and beyond the call of duty.” And what did these two still humble heroes have to say after receiving the awards? They credited their classroom training, exercises and structured debriefings required under 49 CFR Part 238 as giving them the knowledge and tools. Heroism, of course, can’t be legislated or regulated. Heroism comes from the heart and soul, and will long be remembered by dozens alive today only because when tragedy struck, well-trained and dedicated Amtrak conductors d’Alessandro and Sanders were present.
By Calvin Studivant Alternate vice president, Bus Department
Newly manufactured motorcoaches would be required to have lap-shoulder seat belts – and older motorcoaches might be required to add them – under proposals from the U.S. DOT that are open for public comment.
The federal proposals do not include city or school buses. Only a handful of states require seat belts on school buses.
The DOT said that, between 1999 and 2008, there were 54 fatal motorcoach crashes resulting in 186 fatalities, most of them passengers ejected from buses. The majority of motorcoach trips – 65 percent – are made by children and senior citizens.
Wearing lap-shoulder belts on motorcoaches could reduce the risk for passengers of being killed in a rollover crash by 77 percent, says the DOT.
Separately, the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department (TTD), of which the UTU is a member, has added bus issues to its Washington lobbying responsibilities. Alternate Vice President Bonnie Morr and I are working with the TTD and other AFL-CIO transportation unions to advance a successful agenda before Congress and regulatory agencies.
At our initial meeting we discussed:
The growing privatization of school bus transportation.
The increasing number of school bus drivers considered part-time or seasonal and ineligible for health care insurance, sick leave, paid vacations and retirement plans.
A need for improved driver training to handle challenges of students with physical and mental disabilities.
A need for on-board monitors, uniform disciplinary procedures and driver training to control to control unruly students.
A need for training in the dangers of distracted driving that affect situational awareness, and providing medical-benefit assistance to diagnose and treat sleep apnea.
A need for more uniform background checks and equitable standards for disqualifying drivers.
The drafting of a modal labor agreement for school bus districts.
If you have suggestions for other agenda topics, please contact me.
Kudos to Alternate Bus Vice President-East Calvin Studivant and Alternate Bus Vice President-West Bonnie Morr for being chosen as delegates to the AFL-CIO convention in Pittsburgh, where a highlight was President Obama’s speech that may be viewed on the UTU Web site at www.utu.org.
Calvin reports that he shook the president’s hand!
Congratulations also to UTU International President Mike Futhey on his election as an AFL-CIO vice president and his appointment to the federation’s Executive Council.
Several bus locals have been involved in contract negotiations, and the trend is towards shorter agreements in the hope that the economy will improve in the near future.
If that becomes reality, we will be able to negotiate wages and benefits from a far stronger position than in the current recession.
General Chairperson James Williams (Local 1564, Los Angeles) reports his members have ratified a new one-year agreement with the LACMTA after hard work and patience of all the committee members.
General Chairperson Nelson Manzano (Local 710, Elizabeth, N.J.; One Bus) praised the work done by Vice General Chairpersons James Powell and Jose Rivera in reaching a one-year agreement with Coach USA, holding the cost-sharing for health care.
Local 1558 in Westwood, N.J., (Rockland Coaches) reached a similar accord under the direction of General Chairperson Keith Mack, assisted by Mike Byrne, Helaine Parsons, Ed Pollard, Bob Panarotti and Abe Tsay.
Calvin Studivant’s Local 759 in Paramus, N.J., (Community Transit) won an important arbitration, which resulted in an employee being restored to work status with full back pay and benefits.
Also, General Chairperson Bill Koehn (Local 1670, Laredo, Texas; Laredo Metro) is keeping a watchful eye on bus inspections at the Mexican border.
The U.S. DOT has significantly reduced the number of buses inspected, leading to worries about safety, operator fatigue and equipment maintenance on these bus lines that operate far into the U.S. American companies cannot compete effectively when confronted by cheap labor, shoddy maintenance and falsified driver logs.