INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, June 30 — Dennis R. Pierce, President, Teamsters Rail Conference announced today that the Teamsters Rail Conference, following a unanimous vote by its Policy Committee, has joined the U.S. High Speed Rail Coalition Executive Committee. The Committee is comprised of passenger and high-speed rail stakeholders, proponents and supporters from all corners of the Nation.
The Committee’s Campaign will focus on educating elected officials at all levels of government, as well as the public, of the benefits of federal investment in expanding high speed rail service. Among the key goals of the Campaign are:
• a minimum of $205 billion for true high-speed rail;
• the establishment of a Rail Trust Fund;
• the formation of a High Speed Rail Development Agency within USDOT; and
• maintaining the robust labor standards outlined in the American High Speed Rail Act.
The Teamsters Rail Conference is comprised of two Divisions, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division (BLET). As such, the Teamsters Rail Conference Policy Committee is comprised equally of BMWED and BLET voting members. As part of its approval to join the High Speed Rail Coalition Executive Committee, the Policy Committee also agreed that both Divisions and their respective Crafts would be equally represented on the Executive Committee. BLET Vice President and National Legislative Representative Vince Verna and BMWED Director of Government Affairs Jeff Joines will serve as the joint representatives and spokesmen for the Teamsters Rail Conference.
BLET Vice President Verna said, “I am very happy that BLET and BMWED can lead the Teamsters Rail Conference as part of a high speed rail coalition. This is to ensure that the HSR coalition includes labor rights as a main priority. We are happy Congress is seeking the funding for high speed rail while also protecting funding for Amtrak and other intercity and passenger rail systems. Our members who move today’s passengers are essential and we are eager to represent rail workers who will work on high speed rail systems in the future.”
BMWED Director Joines said, “The BMWED is excited to be a part of the High Speed Rail Coalition along with the BLET. HSR will transform our communities and the way we travel in the 21st century, along with providing good paying union railroad jobs well into the future. We call on Congress to meet the long-needed increased funding for high-speed rail around the country.”
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The Teamsters Rail Conference represents more than 70,000 rail employees in the United States who work as locomotive engineers, trainmen and maintenance of way workers on the major freight railroads, Amtrak, and the country’s numerous commuter rail systems and short line railroads. The Conference was formed in early 2004 after the merger of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and added to in 2005 when the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees also merged with the Teamsters.