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Unions: ‘Wrongheaded’ policies threaten transportation system

Transportation unions pressed their case, Wytkind said, to Deputy Secretary Mendez that a “bipartisan legislative truce is needed to end the gridlock on long-term transportation investment programs that is stalling our economic recovery.” (The Trucker file photo)

The Trucker News Services

2/17/2014

HOUSTON—Transportation unions are pushing back against what they call “wrongheaded policies and business models that threaten the quality and safety of the nation’s transportation system and middle-class jobs.”

“We are taking aim at changes in our industries–and failed public policies–that are leading to the steady decline of the world’s largest transportation system and erosion of bargaining rights,” said Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), following the conclusion of TTD’s winter Executive Committee meeting. “Business as usual won’t cut it.

“The agenda we rolled out focuses on strategies to revive the role of transportation as an engine of job creation and economic expansion, and to stop trends and policies that threaten to Walmart the transportation workforce.”

The Executive Committee hosted Rich Trumka, the president of the 12 million-member AFL-CIO, and Victor Mendez, Acting Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

"In his State of the Union address, President Obama laid out a bold vision for increasing opportunity for all Americans–and transportation plays an important role in that vision," said Mendez. "The Department of Transportation looks forward to working closely with transportation labor leaders to ensure Americans can access safe and efficient transportation systems to connect with jobs, schools and health care.”

Transportation unions pressed their case, Wytkind said, to Deputy Secretary Mendez that a “bipartisan legislative truce is needed to end the gridlock on long-term transportation investment programs that is stalling our economic recovery.”

TTD affiliates also approved several policy initiatives including the condemnation of a pending application before the U.S. Department of Transportation by Norwegian Air International, which seeks to expand long-haul service into U.S. markets.

“Transportation unions joined together today to call on the Obama Administration to reject Norwegian’s application for authority to launch a flag of convenience airline,” Wytkind said. “This business model is an affront to middle-class airline jobs and a violation of our laws and rules governing U.S.-European Union aviation trade. Our government must say no.”

During the meeting, TTD member unions resolved to re-double their efforts to meet the challenges of chronically under-funded transportation systems and operations, and to reverse the decline of the U.S. Merchant Marine.

The leaders of TTD’s 32 member unions also endorsed:

           New measures to raise the bar on school bus transportation safety and safeguard against shoddy contracting practices and unfair treatment of workers in a sector that transports 25 million children a day.

           Basic workplace protections for federal Transportation Security Officers that are denied access to the Merit Systems Protection Board, an independent body that adjudicates adverse personnel actions for nearly all federal employees.

           Common sense reform of Hours of Service laws to combat chronic and poorly managed fatigue among freight rail operating crew and signal workers.

           Joining the campaign against hostile postal reform legislation that will hollow out the U.S. Postal Service and put 80,000 middle-class jobs at risk.

 The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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