Transportation Safety

WHEREAS, the Teamsters Union represents hundreds of thousands of transportation workers who move cargo and people throughout the United States by land, sea and air; and

WHEREAS, these workers perform their duties in workplaces such as a truck, bus or locomotive cab, an airplane, along railroad tracks and highways, at airports and at seaports and deserve a safe and healthy work environment; and

WHEREAS, various corporate interests are pushing Congress to weaken worker safety protections including hours-of-service (HOS) regulations and state-mandated meal and rest breaks for truck drivers, to prevent HOS reforms that would provide minimum rest requirements for flight attendants and that put cargo pilots under the same science-based HOS regime as passenger pilots, and to afford locomotive engineers and trainmen with predictable work schedules; and

WHEREAS, 21 states have enacted laws or regulations that provide meal and/or rest breaks to their workers, including truck drivers, and legislation under consideration by Congress, at the behest of the trucking industry, would preempt these state mandated breaks, limit driver pay, and retroactively overturn lawsuits against employers for not paying the minimum wage and/or for all time worked; and

WHEREAS, the trucking industry is attempting to re-write HOS regulations through the legislative process, including eliminating mandatory rest periods and the use of a once-a-week restart, and increase the total on-duty time that a truck driver can work; and

WHEREAS, meal and rest breaks have been determined to be a necessary safeguard against fatigue in all modes of transportation and the current truck driver HOS regulations are based on sound science that is designed to prevent cumulative fatigue; and

WHEREAS, fatigue remains prevalent in all modes of transportation and recent accidents leading to worker fatalities on our highways, railways and  in aviation have reinforced the need for workers to receive proper rest and maintain predictable work schedules that do not result in cumulative fatigue; and

WHEREAS, the pursuit for cheap labor and less regulatory oversight have led to an expansion of foreign repair stations for commercial aircraft,  causing the loss of American jobs in the U.S. airline industry, and led to a lack of safety measures including insufficient criminal background checks or drug and alcohol testing for workers in these safety sensitive jobs at foreign repair stations; and

WHEREAS, these conditions have compromised the quality of repairs and ultimately the safety of aircraft that are repaired at foreign repair stations; and

WHEREAS, lithium batteries can self-ignite, burn violently and are very difficult to extinguish, and legislation currently before Congress requires full harmonization of U.S. regulations with international protocols and temporarily bans all lithium batteries on passenger aircraft until the development of appropriate shipping standards and places limits on lithium- ion batteries on all cargo flights; and

WHEREAS, the full regulation of lithium batteries would have a positive impact on the safety of airline passengers and the air cargo supply chain; and

WHEREAS, positive train control (PTC) technology, improved track  worker protection, the requirement of a two-person crew and the extension  of Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) coverage to railroad workers will improve the safe movement of passengers and cargo, especially hazardous materials, and reduce fatal injuries to our members on trains and along the railroad right-of-way; and

WHEREAS, the railroad industry strongly opposed the implementation of PTC technology and is attempting to delay the implementation of PTC, has lax safety protection for track workers, and opposes legislation that would mandate two-person crews and FMLA coverage; and

WHEREAS, railroads have been lax in initiating safety and security measures unless mandated by Congress and the Federal Railroad Administration.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED at this 29th International Convention that the Teamsters Union calls upon Congress to stand up for the safety of workers in all transportation modes, to ignore the special interests that want to shortcut necessary on-the-job protections, and to reexamine policies and regulations that jeopardize the safety of transportation workers and enact strong legislation to protect them; and

FINALLY, BE IT RESOLVED that the Teamsters Union will call upon its rank and file members, stewards, business agents and officers to redouble their efforts to promote safety in the transportation industry workplace.