Congressmen Join TCU in Opposing Union Pacific
10-15-04 – Congressman James Oberstar (D-MN) along with 22 of his colleagues has joined TCU in opposing the Union Pacific’s efforts to outsource our Carmen’s jobs in Laredo, Texas.
Union Pacific is seeking a waiver from the FRA that would permit the railroad to have crucial train-safety inspections on northbound cross-border rail traffic performed in Mexico by employees of Transportacion Ferroviaria Mexicana (TFM). Such tests would affect locomotive and freight car safety appliances, including brake systems, initial terminal inspection, end of train device testing, pre-departure inspection and daily inspection.
Union Pacific’s desire to export these jobs related to train-safety inspections would result in the loss of many of the jobs of our skilled Carmen members and could expand to other border areas between Mexico and the United States.
By exporting these crucial safety inspections to Mexico, Union Pacific said it could save five-to-seven hours in transit time on cross-border rail traffic moving north through Laredo, Texas. As many as 16 UP northbound freight trains daily would be affected.
Were Union Pacific permitted by the FRA to export these safety-sensitive jobs to Mexico, UP trains originating in Mexico would be traveling up to 1,000 miles into the U.S. before highly skilled, U.S.-trained inspectors would have an opportunity to check crucial safety systems.
Carmen Division General President Rich Johnson testified in opposition to the UP’s request for this waiver at an FRA hearing stating, “Under UP’s application, up to 10% of the cars inspected by TFM . . .would be permitted to travel up to 1000 miles into the interior of the United States. . . .the UP waiver application is strangely silent on how it intends to comply with CFR 174.9, the Hazmat regulations.” Johnson further testified, “cars undergoing less than rigorous hazmat inspections should not be permitted to travel up to 1000 miles into the interior of the United States.” (click here to read entire statement)
In a letter to the FRA twenty-three (23) Congressmen agree with TCU that the safety of rail workers and the public would be jeopardized by allowing these inspections to be conducted by TFM employees. Employees who do not have the training and skill that our Carmen members have. The Congressmen state in their letter, “we do not believe that inspections by TFM would be adequate to assure railroad safety and security, and we therefore urge the FRA to deny the wavier request.” (click here to read entire letter)
TCU will continue to work to defeat this waiver request by the UP.