HB 1841 – Establishing Minimum Crew Size on Certain Trains / Signed into Law

Brothers and sisters,

At 2:30pm Friday, March 27, 2020, Governor Jay Inslee signed into law HB 1841 – Establishing Minimum Crew Size on Certain Trains, which sets into place long overdue crew size minimums for freight and passenger trains. This is a huge win for us all; it recognizes what we see in our work every day, that worker safety and public safety go hand in hand, and that we need strong laws to guarantee both. After seven long years of work, BLET and SMART-TD are proud to have secured the strongest crew size law in the country!

We did not need the coronavirus to tell us what we already know: railroad workers are essential, and so is our safety. The new crew size law makes sure that worker safety is not optional, and the Washington State Legislative Board will continue to fight, through this public health crisis and after, to make sure working men and women are safe and healthy, on the job and off. We continue to work with the Governor’s Office, state agencies, the Washington State Labor Council and others in the enforcement and to bring about awareness of state statute(s) concerning Railroad Companies – Sanitation, in your behalf.

In the 480-66 WAC’s the overall theme of the statutes listed is clean & sanitary conditions, in good repair, free of rodents, and vermin. In efforts of taking necessary precautions of not allowing the spread and therefore the infection of personnel using these area’s in question by COVID-19. I am asking for it to be determined as reasonable for the application of these WAC’s, in the argument against the minimal or non-existent methods of properly addressing this pandemic by the Class I rail carriers in our state; assisting in the efforts of the General Committee. (More information to be forthcoming)
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HB 1841

To all members:

HB 1841 – Establishing Minimum Crews on Certain Trains, as of Tuesday, March 10, 2020, has passed out of the Washington State House on a Concurrence Vote, 64 yea – 33 nay. It was then signed by Madam Speaker, Laurie Jinkins on March 11, 2020, for its finalization in the House, with the additional signature of Lt. Governor / President Cyrus Habib in the Senate, on March 12, 2020, in its final review.

Currently, this legislation is at the desk of Washington State Governor, Jay Inslee for signing. With his signature, the bill will become what is known as Session Law.

However, even at this endpoint, the railroad lobbyists continue to make attempts to stifle the progress of this much-needed safety legislation. Despite this fact, we are taking countermeasures to ensure once and for all, this bill makes it across the finish line on the behalf of our membership.  As the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen – Washington State Legislative Board, Chairman I remain resolute and resolved in the successful outcome of our 2-Person Crew bill.

I would like to thank all of the members within our great fraternal organization, that have been supportive in our boards’ efforts in establishing this legislation through its journey, which we have been in pursuit of for the last seven (7) years.

There will be more information forthcoming upon the bill’s final passage into law.

Thank you.

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Minimum crew size bill awaits vote in Washington State Senate



INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, April 16 – The BLET Washington State Legislative Board, in conjunction with the SMART-TD Washington Legislative Board, has been lobbying the Washington State Legislature in support of legislation that would require two qualified crew members on trains operating in the state of Washington. Recently, this legislation (HB 1841) passed the State Assembly and will soon be voted on by the State Senate.

Public safety in regards to hazardous material trains is a driving force behind support of the legislation. Since 2009, Washington State has seen a dramatic increase in hazardous material trains (e.g., highly flammable crude oil and compressed gases). U.S. oil production is expected to increase 25 percent by 2025, and it is expected that much of this oil will be transported by trains. This legislation gives Washington State the capability to require more than two crew members for these types of trains, if it is determined by the state’s Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) that doing so would mitigate the risk to public safety when in route to the state’s oil refineries.
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