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Location: Middleburg (Jacksonville), Florida, United States

Published in Trains magazine, Railfan & Railroad, Passenger Train Journal

Friday, September 29, 2006

Labor tells House mandatory training is needed

The lack of any comprehensive, mandatory security training for rail and transit workers five years after September 11, 2001 is “difficult to believe,” a transportation labor leader told the House Subcommittee on Homeland Security yesterday.

Ed Wytkind, President of the Transportation Trades Dept., AFL-CIO, said “Despite multiple attacks on transit and rail systems around the world, the federal government still has not stepped in to provide the necessary funding, oversight, and guidance to ensure that railroad and transit systems address their immediate security needs.”

He complained, “Hundreds of thousands of employees work on our nation’s transit and rail systems, and the fact that they have not been prepared to respond in the event of a terrorist threat or attack is unconscionable,” said.

Wytkind added, “It is common sense that training workers is a highly effective way to secure and safeguard our transit and rail networks.”

The labor leader focused his testimony on the need for mandatory training.

“The problem is that if rail and transit systems are not required to provide security training, it will not be universally implemented by systems across the country.”

Rail and transit workers remain poorly trained.

“A recent survey of transit workers conducted by the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) found that even five years after 9-11, approximately 60 percent of ATU members working for U.S. transit systems remain untrained,” Wytkind pointed out.

He said rail workers have not been given access to the resources they need to be in a better position to recognize irregularities or discover suspicious activities. “The training materials are not tailored to any specific job responsibilities and are not designed to impart any specific skills – they simply tell works to be vigilant.”

Wytkind noted that proposals to require security training for rail and transit workers are being considered in negotiations on the pending port security bill. He urged these provisions be included in the final bill sent to the President. “Training is too important to ignore or delay another day and Congress has the opportunity to address this problem. Congress must act now.”

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