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Nevada governor vetoes two-person crew bill

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, June 16 — On June 8, 2017, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval vetoed a railroad safety bill that would have mandated a minimum crew size for freight trains operating in the state.

The measure (S.B. 427) would have restored to Nevada law a provision for minimum freight train crew size, insuring that no freight trains in the state would be operated by a crew of less than two persons. Nevada law previously specified a minimum crew size for freight trains, but the crew size requirement in that law was repealed in 1985.

Matt Parker, the BLET’s Nevada State Legislative Board Chairman, said the bill came in response to interest expressed by freight railroad operators nationwide to reduce the current crew size for most cross-country freight trains from two persons to a single operator. Parker said such a move would represent a giant step backwards for the safety of train crews and the general public.

“Railroad workers oppose such action, citing what they see as a compromise in safety with regard to further crew size reductions,” Brother Parker said. “The desire to pursue single-person operation of freight trains clearly represents placing cost reduction and profits ahead of responsibility for ensuring that movement of freight by rail through the communities of Nevada takes place in the safest possible manner.”

S.B. 427 passed through the State House and Senate on party-line votes, with Democrats supporting it. In vetoing the measure, Governor Sandoval, a Republican, wrote that the “... intent behind the bill is laudable...” but that “... S.B. 427 does not appear to be necessary.” He noted that representatives from both the Union Pacific Railroad and the BNSF Railway opposed S.B. 427.

Brother Parker worked with Jason Doering, Chairman of the Nevada State Legislative Board of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers Transportation Division (SMART-TD), to lobby on behalf of the bill. The two men, along with representatives of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in Nevada and many individual BLET and SMART-TD members, spent months lobbying for passage of the measure, which was first introduced in the Nevada Senate on March 23, 2017.

BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce thanked Brother Parker for his hard work and diligence in shepherding the bill through the Nevada legislature.

“You overcame many obstacles in placing this measure before the Governor, and our Nevada membership can take great pride in your work,” President Pierce said.

Friday, June 16, 2017
bentley@ble-t.org

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