The Coordinating Council of the Sunflower Alliance has endorsed two resolutions that support the safety of railroad workers. The first resolution addresses the issue of train crew fatigue. The second resolution states opposition to the dangerous practice of single employee train crews.
Resolution on Crew Fatigue
Whereas, all too many railroaders in North America work long, irregular hours and all too often are chronically sleep deprived; and
Whereas, most North American railroad workers have no schedule whatsoever, and are generally called to work at all hours of the day, seven days a week, with just two hours’ notice of work; and
Whereas, these long hours without enough sleep have been the cause of countless wrecks, injuries and fatalities over the years, both on and off the job; and
Whereas, this chronic fatigue contributes greatly to all sorts of problems on and off the job – physical, mental, emotional, marital, family, etc.; and
Whereas, excessive work hours means less time for other aspects of life – hobbies, interests, family, friends, community and union work, etc.; and
Whereas, the rail carriers compound the problem when they implement draconian “availability policies”, making it nearly impossible for some railroaders to take the necessary time off work; and
Whereas, countless studies have proven that fatigue — having a very similar effect upon the brain as excessive alcohol consumption — has been a major contributor to disastrous railroad accidents in recent years: and
Whereas, despite study after study, meeting after meeting, the unions and the carriers have more often than not been unable to reach agreement on ways and means to provide adequate and proper rest for train and engine crews;
Therefore, Be it Resolved, that the Sunflower Alliance recognizes that excessive work hours and the resultant crew fatigue are major issues in the rail industry that can no longer be ignored; and
Be it Further Resolved that the Sunflower Alliance supports a nationwide campaign to combat the chronic fatigue and excessive work hours that North American railroad workers are subject to.
Be it Finally Resolved that the Sunflower Alliance calls on community organizations, civic groups, environmental organizations and labor unions to join with us in this important fight against train crew fatigue.
Resolution in Opposition to Single Employee Train Crews
Whereas, the major rail carriers have made it clear in their words and actions that they wish to conduct operations to the extent possible, “conductor only” in remote control (RCO) yard operations, and “engineer only” on road trains; and
Whereas, the major U.S. rail carriers have long stated their intentions to operate road trains with a single employee, when more than decade ago they made their intentions known to both unions of the operating crafts through a “Section 6” notice addressed to the unions dated 11/1/04; and
Whereas, in the words of a Joint Petition filed with Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in June 2009 by both unions of the operating crafts, “No conditions exist where one-person operations are safe;” and
Whereas, both unions of the operating crafts support a bill before Congress known as “The Safe Freight Act” (HR #3040), that would outlaw single employee train operations in the U.S.; and
Whereas, the FRA itself proclaimed on 4/9/14 that “safety is enhanced with the use of a multiple person crew — safety dictates that you never allow a single point of failure.”
Whereas, the implementation of single employee operations will invariably result in a serious degrading of worker safety, security, and quality of work life;
Whereas, these unsafe working conditions referenced above would pose a danger to shippers, pedestrians, motorists, trackside communities, the environment and the general public;
Therefore, Be it Resolved, that the Sunflower Alliance opposes any current use, and any further expansion of, single employee operations anywhere in North America, in the yard or on the road; and
Be in Further Resolved that the Sunflower Alliance is committed to support the efforts of railroad workers and their organizations to ensure a two employee minimum on every train crew; and
Be it Finally Resolved that the Sunflower Alliance calls on other community organizations, civic groups, environmental organizations and labor unions to join with us in this crucial fight against single employee operation of trains.