On March 4, 2019, in Salem, Oregon I had the pleasure of attending the Joint Committee on Transportation public hearing of HB 2970 or as it is commonly known as the Two-Person Crew Bill with Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) Oregon State Legislative Chairman Brother Scott Palmer, BLET Members, SMART-TD (Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation - Transportation Division) Members from all over Oregon in addition to several members of the BLET Auxiliary who were also in attendance.
This bill is extremely important to everyone from railroaders to the general public. We need to get a law passed in this state to mandate that there will be at least two people on every train for everyone's safety. Now is not the time to allow the railroads to put profits above safety, which is exactly what will happen if we cannot get this bill out of the committee and to the floor for a vote.
As you watch the video it is clear that the Railroads are looking to a future with nobody on the train. They will spend whatever it takes to fight laws like this that are starting to pop up all over the country. The Railroads are using such tactics as saying that crew size should be left for contractual bargaining between the parties and should not be forced by the state. Safety is non-negotiable we need to stand united and fight for laws that mandate a minimum crew size for everyone's safety not only in Oregon but all over the country.
We had people speak in support of the bill expressing their concerns about the need for having the second person on the train for the safety of not only the employee on the train but the communities that our trains operate through. Several people gave testimony about situations that happened and they were thankful that there was a second person on the train at a time of crisis.
There are derailments all over this country that could have been much worse had there not been that second or third crew member on board to investigate what happened and were able to relay the information to local police, fire, and rescue. We are the first responders when something bad happens. We need to make sure that we are there in the future to protect our communities and each other.
One such example would be the derailment that happened in Mosier, Oregon where oil cars derailed and caught fire. Had there only been one person on that train there would have been no one to perform the initial investigation into what happened and nobody to relay information about the cars that were derailed or to clear up any crossings so that the emergency responders could get across the railroad tracks.
Please get the information out that we not only need support from all railroaders, but we need it from our friends our families our local communities. We need to keep at least two people on all trains.
Please follow the progress of this bill by clicking here.
To view the status of the bill and exhibits that have been entered click here
(If you want to go directly to hearing on HB2970 in the video go to 51:29)