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RWU Special Bulletin: DOT Final Rule on Train Crew Staffing is Lacking

While Railroad Workers United (RWU) has long supported a federal regulation that would require all trains to have a minimum of a two-person crew, we have severe reservations about the Final Rule that was just released last week by the Department of Transportation (DOT). We continue to wade through the 223 Page document.

Our concerns include – but are not limited to – the fact that this FINAL Rule appears to do the following:

1. Preempts (nullifies) all state and local laws/rules requiring 2-person crews, many if not most of which have more stringent language without the loopholes and exemptions.

2. Allows for “Exemptions” whereby rail carriers of any size may petition to allow 1-person operations in the future, claiming “new circumstances.”

3. Allows that safety data collected by the rail carriers on the question of 2-person vs 1-person crews may be kept secret from the public and the workforce, yet be used to justify future “exemptions” allowing 1-person operation without challenge for inaccuracies, failing to provide for independent auditing of “safety” claims or statistics.

4. Enables/encourages Class One Carriers to sell off local/regional assets to Class 2 (generally non-union) carriers in order to more easily facilitate 1-person operations.

RWU hopes to issue a formal statement on this Final Rule at some point in the coming weeks after further consultation with RWU members and other working railroaders. Meantime, please see our official statement expressing RWU’s concerns to the Federal Railroad Administration during the comment period in September 2022

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