Leaders from the IAM Rail Division (including TCU Carmen Division and IAM District 19) participated in a three-day technology seminar organized by the leadership of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), May 9th through 11th. There were various presentations and discussions ranging from regulatory processes to technology testing, data handling, FOIA / redaction regs, the new infrastructure law, new Tier 3 braking systems, HazMat, greenhouse gas emissions technology, and others.
“We’re glad to see the FRA finally reach out to the rail labor community to better understand our concerns,” said Josh Hartford, Special Assistant to the IP, IAM Rail Division. “Biden’s FRA Administrator Amit Bose has done a great job turning the FRA’s focus toward rail workers, and this meeting is just the most recent example of his efforts.”
FRA officials have heard directly from labor representatives on a variety of issues, including: FRA’s rubber-stamping of railroad waivers, allowing railroads to replace carmen inspections with various wayside scanners, locomotive inspections issues, new locomotive and car technologies, and many more. others.
Rail Division leaders pressed on the FRA to test and inspect brakes as well as FRA data quality and public access. Rail labor has repeatedly expressed concerns over the accuracy of FRA data, since it is all self-reported from the railroads. Nevertheless, the FRA is planning to improve data accuracy and access so that labor representatives can more easily hold railroads accountable on data discrepancies.
TCU Carmen Division President Rich Johnson pressed on the FRA on their suggested waiver parameters on the new Tier 3 highspeed trainsets. “It’s incredibly unsafe to have defective brakes on the trainsets going out the door. The suggested 5-day window for fixing these power and brake assemblies is unacceptable to the Carmen Division as well as the general public. ” The FRA noted that these were draft proposals.
The 3-day meeting was a great opportunity for FRA career staff to directly train rail workers’ representatives on their real-world impact of their work, and we hope these and future meetings will be better informed agency officials in the months and years ahead.
Photo (from left to right): Carl Lakin (TCU / BRC), Rich Johnson (TCU / BRC), Chris Browning (IBB), Josh Hartford (IAM Rail Div.), Mike Miller (TCU / ARASA), Kyle Loos ( IAM District 19), Don Grissom (TCU / BRC)