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NCFO NEWS RELEASE

NCFO logo

Ashland, KY

NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF FIREMEN & OILERS’ PRESIDENT DEAN DEVITA ISSUES A STATEMENT ABOUT THE TRAGIC EVENTS AT VALLEY TRANSPORTATION RAIL YARD

“The NCFO sends our condolences to the families, co-workers and friends of the men and women who lost their lives due to an act of violence at the Valley Transportation Rail Yard in San Jose, CA.

We send our solidarity to our labor partners, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) President John A. Costa as well as the ATU officers, staff and most of all the ATU members.

Every union wants their members to return to their family safe, happy and healthy after they complete their tour of duty. It is heartbreaking that these ATU members will no longer be able to be with their loved ones.

God Bless these brave men and women. God, please protect all workers.”

The NCFO is an affiliate of 32BJ SEIU, the Service Employees International Union, which has 2.1 million members dedicated to raising industry standards, making life better for working families and our communities, and building a fair economy.

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Precision Scheduled Railroading: Not Safe for Railroaders

Josh Funk, journalist for the Associated Press, published a story on how rail companies are defending staff cuts while extending freight train lengths and claiming that the railroads are safer, but our railroad members are overworked and don’t feel safe:

US rail industry defends safety record amid staffing cuts (apnews.com)

In this April 2, 2021, file photo train consists are formed at Norfolk and Southern Railroad’s Conway Yard in Conway, Pa. Even as railroads are operating longer and longer freight trains that can stretch for two miles or more, the companies have drastically reduced staffing levels, prompting unions to warn that moves meant to increase profits could endanger safety and even result in disasters. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

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NCFO NEWS RELEASE

NCFO logo

Washington, DC

The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division-IBT, the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers-Mechanical Division; and National Conference of Firemen and Oilers, 32BJ/SEIU have submitted comments to the Surface Transportation Board regarding the potential sale of Kansas City Southern Railway (KCS). Together, the four unions will be collectively referred to as the Allied Rail Unions (ARU). Those comments are summarized below.

The concern of the ARU is the non-productive, and potentially destructive, competition between Canadian National (“CN”) and Canadian Pacific (“CP”). After CP offered a premium to KCS shareholders for its proposed acquisition, CN upped the ante by 21 percent; it bid $5 billion over what CP was offering. Now CN has increased its offer by another $770 million. According to the Surface Transportation Board “CN intends to raise ‘approximately $19.3 billion of new debt’ to finance its proposed merger with KCS”; and CN’s most recent offer “represent[s] ‘an implied premium of 45% when compared to KCS’ unaffected closing stock price on March 19, 2021.” In response, CP may increase its offer. As CN and CP compete for KCS they may negate any potential transportation benefits of a consolidation with KCS, and there is a likelihood that innocent bystanders–– employees of CP, CN and KCS, and shippers which use those carriers—will pay a price for this exercise in one-upmanship.

A bidding war has consequences. By overpaying to keep the target out of the hands of its rival, the successful bidder would have less capital to invest in the ultimate railroad; every dollar spent wooing shareholders of the target is a dollar not invested in the railroad. The successful bidder, having spent more than what was anticipated would likely seek to recoup its excess expenditures by seeking so-called cost-cutting “efficiencies” from rail workers; and it would likely seek to reduce other costs, which, in turn, would diminish service.

When CSX tried to acquire control of Conrail, offering a premium to Conrail shareholders, NS offered to top CSX’s bid, which led to CSX upping its offer, then STB Chair Linda Morgan brokered a resolution– a division of Conrail between CSX and NS.  But some damage was done as a result of inflated payments to Conrail shareholders CSXT and NSR sought to reduce labor costs by implementing so-called efficiencies. However, unlike Conrail, there does not appear to be a reasonable way to divide KCS.

The Board should recognize it has a role to play to ensure that any acquisition of KCS is in the public interest. Under the Interstate Commerce Act, when presented with the merger or control of two Class I carriers, the Board “shall consider” the effect of the transaction on adequacy of transportation to the public”, “the total fixed charges that result from the transaction”, “the interest of carrier employees affected”, and whether the proposed transaction would have an adverse effect on competition. Ultimate approval of a transaction is dependent on a determination that the transaction is “consistent with the public interest”. The ARU contend that the successful bidder overpaying for KCS, depleting resources and taking on debt, and chasing “efficiencies” in order to recoup the overpayment are bad for rail transportation.

KCS’s current shareholders seek the highest price for their shares; the long-term health and vitality of the ultimate railroad is not their foremost concern. But they do not decide whether an acquisition is in the public interest; the Board must make that determination. The shareholders should be cautioned that, their efforts to maximize the bids for their shares may lead the Board to find that the bidding war has undermined the potential value of the transaction.

The Board should make it clear that its assessment of whether a proposed acquisition of KCS is in the public interest will turn in part on evaluation of the purchase price and any premium paid. The Board should also make it clear that just because the applicants have invested time and money in bringing forward an application, financial markets like the transaction, and they have lined-up supporters, that will not be sufficient to gain approval of the transaction. And the Board should declare that it will not approve plans for cost-cutting and so-called “rationalizations” that appear to be driven by a desire to recoup overpayment for control of KCS, and it will not approve a bid when the transportation value of the proposed transaction has been diminished by overpayment that has resulted from corporate one-upmanship to obtain advantage in a rivalry.

The NCFO is an affiliate of 32BJ SEIU, the Service Employees International Union, which has 2.1 million members dedicated to raising industry standards, making life better for working families and our communities, and building a fair economy.

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BEFORE THE SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD

Finance Docket No. 36514


CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAY COMPANY, GRAND TRUNK
CORPORATION, AND CN’S RAIL OPERATING SUBSIDIARIES
– CONTROL –
KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN, THE KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN
RAILWAY COMPANY, GATEWAY EASTERN RAILWAY COMPANY, AND
THE TEXAS MEXICAN RAILWAY COMPANY


ALLIED RAIL UNIONS’ PRELIMINARY COMMENTS

The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division/IBT; Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen; International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers-Mechanical Division; and National Conference of Firemen and Oilers, 32BJ/SEIU (referred to herein as the “Allied Rail Unions” or “ARU”)[1] respectfully submit these preliminary comments concerning the above-captioned potential transaction.     

          At this time, the ARU take no position regarding the merits of a proposed acquisition of Kansas City Southern (“KCS”). Nor do they express a preference for this proposed transaction or the competing proposed transaction in F.D. 36500. The present concern of the ARU is the non-productive, and potentially destructive, competition between Canadian National (“CN”) and Canadian Pacific (“CP”). After CP offered a premium to KCS shareholders for its proposed acquisition, CN upped the ante by 21%. Just several weeks after CP announced its proposed acquisition, CN announced that it would bid $5 billion over what CP was offering. Now CN has increased its offer by another $770million. According to the Board’s Decision No. 3 in this proceeding “CN intends to raise ‘approximately $19.3 billion of new debt’ to finance its proposed merger with KCS; CN’s original offer “represents “an implied premium of 45% when compared to KCS’ unaffected closing stock price on March 19, 2021”; and the most recent offer “represent[s] ‘an implied premium of 45% when compared to KCS’ unaffected closing stock price on March 19, 2021’”. And now there is talk of CP increasing its offer. As CN and CP compete for KCS, and offer KCS shareholders premium on top of premium, there is a very real possibility that they may negate any potential transportation benefits of a consolidation with KCS, and there is a likelihood that innocent bystanders–– employees of CP, CN and KCS, and shippers which use those carriers—will pay a price for this exercise in one-upmanship.

            A bidding war has consequences. The successful carrier would be spending far more than any rational calculation of the value of the target. By overpaying to keep the target out of the hands of its rival, the successful bidder would have less capital to invest in the ultimate railroad; every dollar spent wooing shareholders of the target is a dollar not invested in the railroad. Further, to support increasing bids, the successful contestant would be likely to take on unanticipated debt, beyond what otherwise would be appropriate, to acquire the target; or it would diminish existing resources. The successful bidder, having spent more than what was anticipated and what is reasonable would likely seek to recoup its excess expenditures by seeking so-called cost-cutting “efficiencies” from rail workers; and it would likely seek to reduce other costs, which, in turn, would diminish service.

            The ARU have seen this movie before. When CSX tried to acquire control of Conrail, offering a premium to Conrail shareholders, NS offered to top CSX’s bid, which led to CSX upping its offer. Conrail’s shareholders were the beneficiaries of a competition to pay them far beyond the intrinsic or even market value of their shares. Because of concerns about where the competition might lead, then STB Chair Linda Morgan stepped in and called a time out and brokered a resolution– CSXT would acquire the lines of the former New York Central Railroad, and NS would acquire the lines of the former Pennsylvania Railroad. The bleeding of resources was stopped but some damage was done as a result of inflated payments to Conrail shareholders, which ultimately reduced resources available to the surviving railroads. And in completing the acquisitions CSXT and NSR sought to reduce labor costs by implementing so-called efficiencies. One cannot know what reduction to labor costs would have been sought but for the bidding war, but the inflated share prices as a result of the bidding war certainly increased pressure to implement “efficiencies”.

            However, there is no obvious similar solution to a wasteful competition between CP and CN. Unlike in the case of Conrail, there does not appear to be a reasonable way to divide KCS between them. But that does not mean that the Board should be inert if the competition escalates. As was the case with Conrail, the Board should recognize it has a role to play to ensure that any acquisition of KCS is in the public interest. Under Section 11324, when presented with a transaction involving the merger or control of two Class I carriers, the Board “shall consider” the effect of the transaction on adequacy of transportation to the public”, “the total fixed charges that result from the transaction”, “the interest of carrier employees affected”, and whether the proposed transaction would have an adverse effect on competition. Ultimate approval of a transaction is dependent on a determination that the transaction is “consistent with the public interest”; and the Board may impose conditions on its approval of a transaction. CP and CN are each committed to acquiring KCS. On CN’s part, it is driven not only by what it presumably believes to be the benefits of a consolidation, but also to keep KCS out of the hands of its rival (after all, CN only moved after CP announced its plan). On CP’s part, it apparently believed in the benefit of a consolidation with KCS and offered a price it thought appropriate with some premium to induce acceptance, but now it has invested time and resources that it does not wish to lose, and it too is concerned about its rival acquiring KCS. While the ARU will not opine as to whether these are rational business decisions for CN and CP, the ARU do submit that the successful bidder overpaying for KCS, depleting resources and taking on debt, and chasing “efficiencies” in order to recoup the overpayment are bad for rail transportation.

            At this point, which bid is accepted by KCS and what the purchase price will be is in the hands of KCS shareholders. KCS’s current shareholders have an incentive to seek the highest price for their shares; the long-term health and vitality of the ultimate railroad is not their foremost concern. But they do not have the final say; they do not decide whether an acquisition is in the public interest; the Board must make that determination. And the shareholders should be cautioned that, notwithstanding their efforts to maximize the bids for their shares, it may all come to naught if the Board finds that the bidding war has undermined the potential value of the transaction. 

            Given those standards, the Board should make it clear that its assessment of whether a proposed acquisition of KCS is appropriate will be based on the considerations identified in Section 11324, and on whether it is ultimately in the public interest, and it will turn in part on evaluation of the purchase price and any premium paid. The Board should also make it clear that just because the applicants have invested time and money in bringing forward an application, financial markets like the transaction, and they have lined-up supporters (who don’t even know any details about this transaction) will not be sufficient to gain approval of the transaction. And the Board should declare that it will not approve plans for cost-cutting and so-called “rationalizations” that appear to be driven by a desire to recoup overpayment for control of KCS. Finally, the Board should also state that despite the plans of the successful bidder, despite the resources expended and debt assumed, despite the effects of any voting trust, it will not approve a bid when the transportation value of the proposed transaction has been diminished by overpayment that has resulted from corporate one-upmanship to obtain advantage in a rivalry.

Respectfully submitted,

/s/ Richard S. Edelman
Richard S. Edelman
Aaron S. Edelman
Mooney, Green, Saindon, Murphy & Welch, P.C.
1920 L Street NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 783-0010
Redelman@MooneyGreen.com
Aedelman@MooneyGreen.com


  1. There is no formal organization known as the “Allied Rail Unions”, rather that name has been adopted by these organizations for convenient collective reference in this proceeding; each organization is a separate participant in this proceeding.

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BEFORE THE SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD

Finance Docket No. 36500


CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY LIMITED, ET AL.
– CONTROL –
KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN, ET AL.


ALLIED RAIL UNIONS’ PRELIMINARY COMMENTS

The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division/IBT; Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen; International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers-Mechanical Division; and National Conference of Firemen and Oilers, 32BJ/SEIU (referred to herein as the “Allied Rail Unions” or “ARU”) respectfully submit these preliminary comments concerning the above-captioned potential transaction.

At this time, the ARU take no position regarding the merits of a proposed acquisition of Kansas City Southern (“KCS”). Nor do they express a preference for this proposed transaction or the competing proposed transaction in F.D. 36514. The present concern of the ARU is the non-productive, and potentially destructive, competition between Canadian National (“CN”) and Canadian Pacific (“CP”). After CP offered a premium to KCS shareholders for its proposed acquisition, CN upped the ante by 21%. Just several weeks after CP announced its proposed acquisition, CN announced that it would bid $5 billion over what CP was offering. Now CN has increased its offer by another $770million. According to the Board’s Decision No. 3 in F.D. 36514, “CN intends to raise ‘approximately $19.3 billion of new debt’ to finance its proposed merger with KCS; CN’s original offer “represents “an implied premium of 45% when compared to KCS’ unaffected closing stock price on March 19, 2021”; and the most recent offer “represent[s] ‘an implied premium of 45% when compared to KCS’ unaffected closing stock price on March 19, 2021’”. And now there is talk of CP increasing its offer. As CN and CP compete for KCS, and offer KCS shareholders premium on top of premium, there is a very real possibility that they may negate any potential transportation benefits of a consolidation with KCS, and there is a likelihood that innocent bystanders–– employees of CP, CN and KCS, and shippers which use those carriers—will pay a price for this exercise in one-upmanship.

A bidding war has consequences. The successful carrier would be spending far more than any rational calculation of the value of the target. By overpaying to keep the target out of the hands of its rival, the successful bidder would have less capital to invest in the ultimate railroad; every dollar spent wooing shareholders of the target is a dollar not invested in the railroad. Further, to support increasing bids, the successful contestant would be likely to take on unanticipated debt, beyond what otherwise would be appropriate, to acquire the target; or it would diminish existing resources. The successful bidder, having spent more than what was anticipated and what is reasonable would likely seek to recoup its excess expenditures by seeking so-called cost-cutting “efficiencies” from rail workers; and it would likely seek to reduce other costs, which, in turn, would diminish service.

The ARU have seen this movie before. When CSX tried to acquire control of Conrail, offering a premium to Conrail shareholders, NS offered to top CSX’s bid, which led to CSX upping its offer. Conrail’s shareholders were the beneficiaries of a competition to pay them far beyond the intrinsic or even market value of their shares. Because of concerns about where the competition might lead, then STB Chair Linda Morgan stepped in and called a time out and brokered a resolution– CSXT would acquire the lines of the former New York Central Railroad, and NS would acquire the lines of the former Pennsylvania Railroad. The bleeding of resources was stopped but some damage was done as a result of inflated payments to Conrail shareholders, which ultimately reduced resources available to the surviving railroads. And in completing the acquisitions CSXT and NSR sought to reduce labor costs by implementing so-called efficiencies. One cannot know what reduction to labor costs would have been sought but for the bidding war, but the inflated share prices as a result of the bidding war certainly increased pressure to implement “efficiencies”.

However, there is no obvious similar solution to a wasteful competition between CP and CN. Unlike in the case of Conrail, there does not appear to be a reasonable way to divide KCS between them. But that does not mean that the Board should be inert if the competition escalates. As was the case with Conrail, the Board should recognize it has a role to play to ensure that any acquisition of KCS is in the public interest. Under Section 11324, when presented with a transaction involving the merger or control of two Class I carriers, the Board “shall consider” the effect of the transaction on adequacy of transportation to the public”, “the total fixed charges that result from the transaction”, “the interest of carrier employees affected”, and whether the proposed transaction would have an adverse effect on competition. Ultimate approval of a transaction is dependent on a determination that the transaction is “consistent with the public interest”; and the Board may impose conditions on its approval of a transaction. CP and CN are each committed to acquiring KCS. On CN’s part, it is driven not only by what it presumably believes to be the benefits of a consolidation, but also to keep KCS out of the hands of its rival (after all, CN only moved after CP announced its plan). On CP’s part, it apparently believed in the benefit of a consolidation with KCS and offered a price it thought appropriate with some premium to induce acceptance, but now it has invested time and resources that it does not wish to lose, and it too is concerned about its rival acquiring KCS. While the ARU will not opine as to whether these are rational business decisions for CN and CP, the ARU do submit that the successful bidder overpaying for KCS, depleting resources and taking on debt, and chasing “efficiencies” in order to recoup the overpayment are bad for rail transportation.

At this point, which bid is accepted by KCS and what the purchase price will be is in the hands of KCS shareholders. KCS’s current shareholders have an incentive to seek the highest price for their shares; the long-term health and vitality of the ultimate railroad is not their foremost concern. But they do not have the final say; they do not decide whether an acquisition is in the public interest; the Board must make that determination. And the shareholders should be cautioned that, notwithstanding their efforts to maximize the bids for their shares, it may all come to naught if the Board finds that the bidding war has undermined the potential value of the transaction.

Given those standards, the Board should make it clear that its assessment of whether a proposed acquisition of KCS is appropriate will be based on the considerations identified in Section 11324, and on whether it is ultimately in the public interest, and it will turn in part on evaluation of the purchase price and any premium paid. The Board should also make it clear that just because the applicants have invested time and money in bringing forward an application, financial markets like the transaction, and they have lined-up supporters (who don’t even know any details about this transaction) will not be sufficient to gain approval of the transaction. And the Board should declare that it will not approve plans for cost-cutting and so-called “rationalizations” that appear to be driven by a desire to recoup overpayment for control of KCS. Finally, the Board should also state that despite the plans of the successful bidder, despite the resources expended and debt assumed, despite the effects of any voting trust, it will not approve a bid when the transportation value of the proposed transaction has been diminished by overpayment that has resulted from corporate one-upmanship to obtain advantage in a rivalry.


Respectfully submitted,

/s/ Richard S. Edelman
Richard S. Edelman
Aaron S. Edelman
Mooney, Green, Saindon, Murphy & Welch, P.C.
1920 L Street NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 783-0010
Redelman@MooneyGreen.com
Aedelman@MooneyGreen.com


  1. There is no formal organization known as the “Allied Rail Unions”, rather that name has been adopted by these organizations for convenient collective reference in this proceeding; each organization is a separate participant in this proceeding.

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“Promises and Perils: The Potential of Automobile Technologies”

WRITTEN STATEMENT OF GREG REGAN, PRESIDENT
TRANSPORTATION TRADES DEPARTMENT, AFL-CIO


BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON CONSUMER PROTECTION AND COMMERCE “PROMISES AND PERILS: THE POTENTIAL OF AUTOMOBILE TECHNOLOGIES


On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), and our 33 affiliated unions, I want to thank Chair Schakowsky and Ranking Member Bilirakis for inviting me to participate in today’s hearing. I also want to acknowledge that, while not an affiliate of TTD’s, we have worked closely with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters on automated vehicle (AV) policy, and my testimony fairly characterizes our shared positions on this topic. Hundreds of thousands of union members face a future of technology-enabled change and their voices must be a part of any debate over the deployment of AV and other transportation technologies.

At the outset, I would ask the Committee to allow me to submit joint labor principles that we believe must form the basis for any AV legislation put forth by Congress. My testimony today will be an expansion of the principles laid forth in that document.

The broad impacts of automated vehicles on America’s workers

Technological change in transportation is not new to transportation workers. They have lived through generations of new breakthroughs and have demonstrated their skill and adaptability as innovations accelerated and placed new demands on them while redefining our system of mobility. Meanwhile, their jobs and skills requirements have constantly evolved and Americans have benefited from their resiliency, precision, and know-how.

Since the introduction of the SELF DRIVE Act in this committee and the AV Start Act in the Senate four years ago, we have seen a rapid expansion of AV technology operating on American streets, from automated driving systems like Tesla’s Autopilot feature to Waymo’s driverless ride-hail operation to pilot projects in transit and commercial transportation. These AV experiments are just that—experiments. But unlike a standard experiment, these AV tests occur not in a laboratory but in real time on public roads shared with other vehicles, bicycles, scooters, and pedestrians including people with disabilities. These experiments have proven at least one thing: that AV vehicles crash frequently and remain an unproven technology with unsolved engineering challenges. In other words, this technology is not safe enough to operate without federal oversight. But thanks to the Trump administration’s refusal to lead, our government lacks a responsible regulatory regime on the books that ensures safety before AVs are allowed on our streets. The approach to regulation is shortsighted and irresponsible at best, and potentially catastrophic at worst. This simply cannot be the federal government’s approach to AVs moving forward.

Policy makers must balance the interests of a growing industry with transportation safety and American workers’ needs to care for their families and retire with dignity. This is not an all or nothing choice. But transportation labor steadfastly rejects the hands off, deregulatory approach to the radical disruptions that AV will bring to roadway safety and good American jobs. I urge you to tread carefully and consider both the opportunities and risks posed by this new technology. This is not the first time we have faced technological change and we should learn the lessons that history can teach us about the risks and opportunities AVs pose to workers, safety, American industry, and our economy at large.

We know that AVs threaten to drastically alter the provision of service and the nature of work, while placing millions of jobs at risk. Most authoritative research agrees that automation will threaten to eliminate and drastically alter millions of jobs. A recent study estimates that over the next 30 years, between 39 and 73 million American jobs stand to be automated.1 In the commercial driving sector alone, reports suggest that between 700,000 and 1.7 million workers may be displaced or have their jobs fundamentally changed by automation—with other estimates closer to 3 million.2 And with automated shuttle pilot projects already on the ground in a growing number of American cities, the transit workforce of 400,000 workers may find their jobs slowly phased out in favor of autonomous transit systems.

Proponents of automation suggest that the labor market is “well equipped to reabsorb displaced workers,” while touting the benefits of new jobs in the AV and technology industry. Yet those proponents gloss over a critical question: will displaced labor be “reabsorbed” into jobs with similar income and workplace protections? Negative shocks to the economy—like the one many would experience as a result of disruptive AI—can cause significant long-term damage to workers’ earning potential. One study suggests that workers’ earnings may be depressed by 10 percent or more, even more than 10 years after they are displaced.3

While this committee’s jurisdiction may not extend to crafting policies to mitigate these workforce impacts, I would suggest that you nonetheless have a responsibility to the American people to work with your colleagues across other committees to ensure any AV legislation takes full stock of its potential negative impacts and of policy solutions that may help the labor market better absorb the shock of automation and the workforce prepare for the transition.

Automated vehicles’ record of safety

News stories over the past four years clearly reveal the need for a strong federal framework for AV testing and deployment. Rather than providing exemptions and waivers, Congress should be focusing on empowering the US Department of Transportation (DOT), NHTSA, and other federal regulators to treat this technology with the seriousness it deserves. Consider the following, which represents a mere snapshot of incidents involving AVs:

  1. In a well-publicized 2018 incident, an Uber automated vehicle pilot test resulted in the death of a pedestrian. It was reported at the time that test vehicles were involved in 37 crashes over the prior 18 months leading up to the fatal crash.
  2. In 2019, a self-driving shuttle in Las Vegas crashed into a truck. While there was an operator on board, they did not have direct access to the manual override controls.
  3. In 2020, a self-driving shuttle in Ohio came to an abrupt stop, requiring a passenger who was thrown from their seat to receive medical attention for their injuries. This pilot project was a component of the 2015 Smart Cities challenge.
  4. In 2020, a self-driving shuttle in Utah sent a 76-year old man to the hospital after it came to an abrupt stop.
  5. NHTSA has opened investigations into 27 crashes involving Tesla vehicles. There have been at least 11 deaths in Tesla vehicles that involved their autopilot feature in the US alone.
  6. A 2020 report showed that Waymo’s driverless cars were involved in 18 accidents and 29 near-miss collisions over a 20-month period.

For too long, proponents of the AV lobby have pushed a rosy narrative that brushes aside safety, workforce, and equity issues to convince our government to prematurely get vehicles to market as quickly as possible. And they’ve managed to gain support from some of our elected officials, most notably in the Trump administration, which played the role of AV cheerleader instead of safety regulator. To ensure AVs meet the promise their proponents have touted for all Americans, the following principles must form the basis of any comprehensive automated vehicle legislation.

Labor principles for automated vehicle legislation

1) Workers must have a voice in the adoption of new technology

For more than 80 years, employees affected by technological changes in the transportation sector have benefited from comprehensive employee protections providing for job guarantees, training and retraining programs to learn and apply the new skills, and the continuation of their collective bargaining rights and terms and conditions of employment.

These protections have enabled the commercial driving and transit industries and their employees to successfully adopt and adapt to new technologies, including those requiring advanced computer and engineering skills. Federal legislation anticipating such changes must ensure that these protections apply and cover the workforce affected by the introduction of autonomous vehicles and other innovations.

Unfortunately, this standard was not met in any previous AV bill, in the DOT’s Smart City Challenge, in any current draft AV legislation I have seen from this committee, or in Senator Thune’s recent AV proposal in the Senate. And it certainly was not included in any of the Trump administration’s ill-advised AV policy proposals. Specifically, while AV bills considered by Congress have largely omitted commercial vehicles over 10,000 lbs.—a decision we strongly support for reasons detailed below—they failed to address how the federal government should more broadly respond to workforce issues caused by automation.

As detailed in our joint principles document, Congress should attack this issue from multiple fronts. With regard to public transportation, legislation should direct comprehensive regulations through the DOT and its Federal Transit Administration (FTA) that would require workforce impact assessments be conducted jointly by representatives of the frontline workforce and management at any agency utilizing AVs, and the application of transit-related AV labor standards. Moreover, legislation that allows the commercial application of AVs, which may negatively impact public transportation ridership, must also include provisions that create career ladder and apprenticeship programs for transit workers, ensure the manufacture and development of new technologies is done within the U.S., and that new jobs created come with union protections.

For private transportation, Congress should examine the impact smaller AVs will have in high-risk industries such as taxicab and rideshare operations, private shuttles, and food/package delivery operations. These reviews should be combined with aggressive policies aimed at mitigating both job losses and wage degradation via job retention, just transition, vehicle taxation regimes, allocation of retraining funds for displaced workers, wage supplements, and the restriction on the use of independent contractors throughout the industry. They should also be combined with robust manufacturing standards to ensure that vehicles, components, and engineering work is done in the United States. These rules should be put into place before any widespread deployment or approvals for AVs are granted.

2) Safety must be paramount

TTD urges this committee to incorporate the safety framework developed in the Joint AV Tenets introduced by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and endorsed by our organization. Bus operators, truck drivers, and thousands of other transportation workers will be sharing the road with AVs for years to come if widespread use is authorized. The performance of AVs will be of paramount importance to safety throughout our entire transportation network for both system users and our members, whether they operate on the roads and transit systems or work in other roles with AVs such as performing maintenance or loading the vehicles.

The Joint AV Tenets were developed by safety advocates and equity partners, as well as our unions. All workers deserve to know that an autonomous car or bot driving next to them is safe enough to be on the same road or in the worksite. Any legislation written by Congress or regulations promulgated by the DOT must strengthen the development of future Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) for AVs and mandate tests of key components (i.e., a vision test) on any system whose performance is inseparable from the safe deployment of that vehicle. Congress and the federal government must focus on strong safety regulation and enforcement rather than the hands-off policies sought out by the AV industry—those based on waivers and exemptions that clear the way for widespread piloting and deployment of unproven AVs. Too much is at risk for millions of motorists and transit system riders for AVs to be “left to the market” to sort out the solutions to myriad hazards and challenges.

3) Define the scope appropriately

We urge Congress to continue the carve-out for vehicles over 10,000 pounds. Heavy commercial motor vehicles offer a laundry list of unique operational challenges which will greatly complicate the introduction of AVs into that space. Frontline commercial vehicle operators do not just drive—they have unique training to react to adverse situations and an array of challenges that an AV is ill equipped to handle without a human on board. Professional drivers are trained to account for shifting loads, the higher center of gravity a fully loaded trailer may have, and the need to identify and engage in defensive driving when surrounded by distracted drivers in the lanes next to them. Small vehicles bear little resemblance to the design or operational realities of buses, trucks, or heavy-duty construction vehicles and should not be considered under the same regulatory framework as personal cars or fleets of small vehicles delivering individual packages. Small cars aren’t capable of killing dozens of people if the automated driving system malfunctions, but a fully loaded 80,000-pound tractor-trailer is. The enormous workforce concerns surrounding the use of these larger vehicles also necessitates their separate consideration. We applaud Congress for recognizing these challenges and excluding vehicles over 10,000 pounds in every AV bill that has been introduced to date.

Automated vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds that are providing passenger service must have a human driver. The operators of passenger service vehicles are critical to the safe and accessible delivery of transportation services, both for the passengers and for all other road users. Any legislation or regulations designed to facilitate the deployment of AV technologies must mandate an operator on board who is there to perform an array of critical tasks and is available to take over automated operations that we know from experience will fail or falter. The presence of an operator ensures that someone is there to respond to emergencies and summon first responders, facilitate and comply with ADA needs, prevent vehicles from becoming magnets for crime, and critically, to provide a backup in the case of technological failure. We do not allow passenger airplanes to operate without pilots or passenger rail to run without engineers, and we should use a similar approach with AVs that operate on our often-congested roadways and in complex transit networks.

Finally, Congress must consider alternative design vehicles such as delivery bots. Any vehicle that is under the 10,000-pound threshold that will travel on public roads must be properly regulated and not made exempt from the safety mandates embodied in any AV legislation. We have already seen these smaller AV vehicles receive special treatment (including waivers from safety requirements) from regulators simply because they are lighter and travel at lower speeds. TTD expressed strong criticism of the previous administration’s approach in granting such exemptions. These vehicles should also be subjected to proper federal scrutiny and safety requirements. This includes the creation of a new federal operating authority for bots and delivery vehicles. Any vehicle that is being used solely for commercial purposes must be required to carry a minimum level of insurance in the case of a crash and demonstrate a comprehensive maintenance plan that accounts for the heavy wear and tear it will undergo as a part of continuous commercial operations.

4) Federal policies must ensure that jobs in AV manufacturing are good jobs

Promoters of AV technology repeatedly make the claim that we are falling behind China and other countries in the development and deployment of automated driving system technologies. Without clear federal leadership, history tells us that American manufacturing workers will be guaranteed to fall behind and be the last to benefit from the economic gains that might be inspired by these technologies. Lawmakers must take clear steps to ensure broadly shared prosperity and that jobs created in AV manufacturing are good jobs here in America. U.S. government assistance for the development of AV technologies, federal procurements of AVs, or procurements by transit agencies or state and local governments through federal assistance must come with strong Buy American policies and a U.S. Employment Plan or similar procurement standards. These requirements will help to ensure that the development and use of AVs also produces broad community benefits and leads to good middle-class domestic manufacturing and supply chain jobs.

5) Ensure consumer rights, equity, and accessibility are key components of any
framework

The AV industry claims broad deployment of this technology stands to help improve access to
transportation for disadvantaged populations. But if wrongly implemented, they also risk
exacerbating long-standing inequities which have existed across racial, gender, and socioeconomic lines for generations. Professional driving has long been a solid path to the middle class, including for women and people of color. Nearly 40 percent of professional drivers are non-white, and men and women both work as bus operators across the country at about the same rate. Transportation jobs have higher unionization rates than many other professions, and as a result, they pay significantly better than most jobs the same individuals would be likely to find in non-driving occupations.4 Congress must keep these ladders to the middle class intact before and during the eventual introduction of AVs onto our roads or in our transit systems. Without specific safeguards, AVs are likely to undermine equity and worker rights while cementing longstanding social injustices.

Our unions also represent many workers who currently provide paratransit for older adults and individuals with disabilities. We know how much of a lifeline these services can be to many individuals and their families. If deployed, AVs must not degrade universal access to these services. Isolated and marginalized communities must share in the benefits of these mobility options. This will require adequate staffing levels to ensure the presence of well-credentialed safety monitors aboard AV-enabled paratransit operations, and assurance these types of services will remain accessible for all.

Conclusion

While ensuring a safe framework for the deployment of automated vehicles is a critical task before this committee, I would remind you that your work must be a part of a larger package that takes full stock of the disruptive nature of this technology. We have seen the impacts of automation on other sectors—manufacturing, health care, and retail, to name a few—and the consequences when public policy fails to protect the workers and users it impacts. I urge you to give our safety and workforce concerns the full weight they deserve, and to work closely with your colleagues across other committees in the development of comprehensive policy that protects our transportation system and country from the premature and irresponsible deployment of AV technology. Please reject the AV lobby’s poorly veiled attempt to sidestep all the tough questions surrounding AV deployment. Our broadly based set of principles and proposals take on the toughest questions and offer a responsible path forward.


  1. Manyika, James, et al. “Jobs Lost, Jobs Gained: What the Future of Work Will Mean for Jobs, Skills, and Wages.” McKinsey & Company, www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-organizations-and-work/Jobs-lost-jobsgained-what-the-future-of-work-will-mean-for-jobs-skills-and-wages; “Artificial Intelligence, Automation, And The Economy”. Whitehouse.Gov, 2018, https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2016/12/20/artificial-intelligenceautomation-and-economy.
  2. “America’s Workforce and the Self-Driving Future.” Securing America’s Future Energy, June 2018, avworkforce.secureenergy.org/.
  3. Steven J. Davis and Till Von Wachter, “Recessions and the Costs of Job Loss,” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, 43(2): 1-72, 2011, https://www.brookings.edu/wpcontent/uploads/2011/09/2011b_bpea_davis.pdf
  4. http://globalpolicysolutions.org/report/stick-shift-autonomous-vehicles-driving-jobs-and-the-future-of-work/

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NCFO NEWS RELEASE


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STATEMENT FROM NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF FIREMEN & OILERS’ PRESIDENT DEAN DEVITA CONCERNING HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEE CHAIRS’ REQUEST FOR INVESTIGATION OF RAILROADS’ NEW PSR BUSINESS MODEL.


Peter DeFazio, Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Donald Payne, Jr., Chair of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials have requested that U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) examine the impact that the implementation of precision scheduled railroading (PSR) by Class I railroads is having on workers, safety, freight shippers, passenger railroads, and long-term management of the nation’s railroads. In 2020, the rail unions advocated for inclusion of a directive for a GAO study of the PSR business model in the surface transportation reauthorization bill. When that bill did not pass in the last Congress, the rail
unions urged Chairmen DeFazio and Payne, Jr. to request a GAO study separate from any statutory mandate. Their request to GAO is for it to examine the effects of PSR on:

  1. Train size, including use of longer trains, and the corresponding safety and service effects;
  2. Safety impacts associated with reductions in workforce, including occupational injury rates, impacts to inspection frequencies, inspection adequacy, repair quality, and changes in workforce levels;
  3. The elimination or downsizing of yards, repair facilities, and other operational facilities;
  4. Increases in demurrage or accessorial charges or other costs to shippers;
  5. Capital expenditures for rail infrastructure;
  6. Changes to dispatching practices and locations of dispatching centers;
  7. Increases to the size of signal territories;8. The on-time performance of passenger trains;
  8. The quality, availability, and reliability of service to freight shippers within a range of industries, particularly shippers that are small and/or geographically remote; and
  9. Railroads’ ability to respond to changes in demand or market conditions, particularly in light of reductions in capital asset and workforce levels.

PSR and the new business model have had a devastating effect on rail workers and the safety and quality of freight rail service. The freight railroads reduced rail employment by about 20% in the four years prior to the pandemic. Among other things, the results have been:

• Operating employees pushed to work beyond the legal “Hours of Service Act” limits; 3-mile-long trains with mixed freight cars that block grade crossings, exceed capabilities for communications from the locomotive to the end of the train, and that cannot be braked as effectively as shorter trains, crew safety and train consist briefings eliminated or conducted on after trains start moving.
• Locomotives released for operation when required inspections have not been completed, locomotives not being cleaned for safe inspections before shop Mechanics begin their inspections; railroad Carmen being required to inspect cars in 60 seconds when they can’t even walk around a car in 60 seconds and to check brake hoses while cars are moving, craft Mechanics being required to do work of other crafts that they are not trained to do.
• Maintenance of Way and Signal employees having to inspect and maintain larger territories than they can properly inspect and maintain, and being pressed to ignore or delay addressing signal and track defects, maintenance of way safety positions has been eliminated, experienced Signalmen have retired because of the changes.
• Train Dispatchers being required to authorize train movements in yards based on remote observations from video cameras and to handle trains moving in opposite directions when sidings on which they can divert trains are too short for the trains operated under PSR

The effects for shippers have been delays in pickup and delivery of cars, having to change their own work schedules to match the railroads’ inflexible schedules, cars being delivered and picked up when it is convenient for the railroad, long and circuitous routings of their cars, receipt of defective cars, and system congestion due to long trains and inflexible schedules.


All of these problems prompted rail unions and rail shippers to urge that the GAO study this new operating model of the railroads.


The NCFO is an affiliate of 32BJ SEIU, the Service Employees International Union, which has 2.1 million members dedicated to raising industry standards, making life better for working families and our communities, and building a fair economy.


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NCFO REACHED TENTATIVE AGREEMENT WITH MTA METRO NORTH RAILROAD

New York, NY – The National Conference of Firemen & Oilers, SEIU 32BJ (NCFO), announced today a Tentative Agreement with the MTA- Metro North Railroad, has been reached.

Pursuant to Section 6 of the Railway Labor Act (RLA), the NCFO served formal notices for changes in current rates of pay, rules and working conditions.

NCFO President Dean Devita stated,This agreement, provides solid wage increases during a National Emergency Pandemic for the NCFO members and all Metro-North employees who have continued to provide professional service to Metro-North during this crisis.

Congratulations to Assistant to the President Mike Pistone and General Chairman Vincent Ruffolo for finalizing this agreement. The NCFO also congratulates our Union Partners for all their work in securing this agreement for their members.”

“Because of the pandemic, never in the history of Metro-North railroad have the NCFO members needed a wage increase more and this increase is well deserved. The NCFO members must be treated with dignity and respect for their action during this National Emergency.” added NCFO Assistant to the President Mike Pistone.

General Chairman Vincent Ruffolo stated, “During a pandemic when so many people are out of work, we are fortunate not only to avoid furloughs, but gain a well-deserved wage increase.”

We look forward to presenting the Tentative Agreement to the NCFO membership for their consideration.

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NCFO REACHED TENTATIVE AGREEMENT WITH MTA LIRR

New York, NY – The National Conference of Firemen & Oilers, SEIU 32BJ (NCFO), announced today a Tentative Agreement with the (MTA) – Long Island Railroad, has been reached.

On November 1, 2018, pursuant to Section 6 of the Railway Labor Act (RLA), the NCFO served formal notices for changes in current rates of pay, rules and working conditions.

NCFO President Dean Devita stated,This agreement, provides solid wage increases during a National Emergency Pandemic for the NCFO members and all LIRR employees who have continued to provide professional service to the LIRR during this crisis.

Congratulations to Assistant to the President Mike Pistone and General Chairman Vincent Ruffolo for finalizing this agreement. The NCFO also congratulates our Union Partners SMART TD General Chairman Anthony Simon, TCU National Representative Nick Peluso and SMART MD General Chairman John McCloskey for all their work in securing this agreement for their members.”

“Because of the pandemic, never in the history of the LIRR have the NCFO members needed a wage increase more and this increase is well deserved. The NCFO members must be treated with dignity and respect for their action during this National Emergency.” added NCFO Assistant to the President Mike Pistone.

We look forward to presenting the Tentative Agreement to the NCFO membership for their consideration.

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NCFO News Alert – American Rescue Plan

NCFO President Dean Devita issued the following statement on the House passage of the American Rescue Plan:

“The last year has been the worst health and economic crisis that our Nation has ever faced. This past year, NCFO members have sacrificed more than any other time in our history. Every single member of the NCFO has done their part during this national emergency, we are grateful for the sacrifice that each NCFO member has made.”

“NCFO along with our Union Partners are proud that we took part to make sure that the American Rescue Plan would benefit all working Americans. Throughout all of my career, the American Rescue Plan will do more for Union Workers, than any bill that has been passed.”

Highlights of The Bill:

*$30.5 billion in emergency relief for transit agencies and their frontline workers

*The bill is providing $1.7 billion for Amtrak, which will allow Amtrak to fully restore long distance service

* The bill is providing funding to Amtrak to start recalling approximately 1,200      furloughed employees

*$28 million for the Railroad Retirement Board

*This bill delivers aid for our restaurants

* States and Cities will finally receive aid to restart their economies

*Financial assistance to multi union employer pension plans

“The American Rescue Plan provides much-needed relief for working families. This package addresses many of the health, safety and economic security needs currently faced by workers and their families, and will go a long way toward crushing the virus.”

“After a year where over 500,000 people have died from COVID-19, this legislation finally delivers desperately needed help for the American workforce and the essential services they provide for our cities, towns, counties and states.”

“In the last year, poverty has increased more than any other time in history and more Americans go to sleep hungry than since the depression era. In the past, the United States has bailed out banks, corporations and provided tax cuts to the rich. Finally, this legislation will provide aid to Union Members.

“I want to thank President Joe “Amtrak Joe” Biden for his leadership. Finally, after decades, the United States is providing assistance to Union Workers. It has been a long time since Union Workers have seen a bill that provides strong legislation on behalf of Union Members

“I also want to thank all of our partners from all of the unions, the Transportation Trades Division (TTD) and SEIU, 32BJ for their support to make this bill a reality.”

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The NCFO is an affiliate of 32BJ SEIU, the Service Employees International Union, which has 2.1 million members dedicated to raising industry standards, making life better for working families and our communities, and building a fair economy.

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