Members urged to call their member of Congress after BLET
lobbies for two-person crew bill
CLEVELAND, November 22 — The BLET, working jointly with SMART-Transportation Division (formerly the United Transportation Union), made nearly 150 visits to members of the U.S. House of Representatives this week in support of H.R. 3040, the Safe Freight Act. The bill would mandate by federal law that two qualified individuals are in the cab of each freight train operating in the United States.
BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce and Vice President & National Legislative Representative John Tolman led the team of BLET lobbyists, which also included: Texas State Legislative Board Chairman Terry Briggs; Ohio State Legislative Board Chairman Tim Hanely; District of Columbia State Legislative Board Chairman Herbert Harris; Pennsylvania State Legislative Board Chairman Ken Kertesz; Illinois State Legislative Board Chairman Paul Piekarski; Director of Regulatory Affairs Vince Verna; and Director of Bylaws Administration John Fink.
President Pierce thanked all officers and members of both unions who took the time to walk the hill and get the unions’ message to the members of congress. “Although I too met with members of Congress to make our case, it was the National Vice Presidents, State Chairmen, State Directors and Staff members of both unions who did the heavy lifting on the hill. It is events like this that show the true depth and strength of our legislative department and I am proud to have been there with them”
The legislation requires that “no freight train or light engine used in connection with the movement of freight may be operated unless it has a crew consisting of at least 2 individuals, one of whom is certified under regulations promulgated by the Federal Railroad Administration as a locomotive engineer pursuant to section 20135, and the other of whom is certified under regulations promulgated by the Federal Railroad Administration as a conductor pursuant to section 20163.”
Representatives Michael Michaud (D-ME) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME) introduced the legislation on August 2 in the aftermath of the tragic accident in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, which heightened awareness of the risks of single person operations.
The BLET, along with SMART-TD, has been working to gain co-sponsors for this bill since its introduction. The organizations recently sent a joint letter to all offices of the House of Representatives refuting memos sent to the Hill by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and the American Shortline & Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) for the purpose of dissuading possible support of the legislation.
In the joint letter sent by BLET and SMART-TD, the unions noted that “[t]wo-person crews are the norm in both the U.S. and Canada. This bill will prevent a handful of rogue operators from endangering their employees and the communities through which they pass …
“The railroad industry has become a safer place to work than ever before, in large part because of the professionals who run the trains across America. And the folks who run our nation’s trains agree that the safest way to operate a train is with at least two certified crew members. Our industry is reducing the number of fender bender accidents, but fatalities continue to be in the teens for on-duty railroad employees. H.R. 3040 — the Safe Freight Act, is a bipartisan bill that will ensure that trains are operated safely everywhere in America.”
To follow up on the lobbying effort, President Pierce is now asking BLET members, retirees, the BLET Auxiliary, and all concerned family members to contact their members of Congress to continue the effort to increase the number of co-sponsors.
“I urge all BLET members to contact their members of the U.S. House of Representatives and ask them to sign on to this vital piece of legislation,” President Pierce said. “As the railroads noted in their letters to Congress, the issue is also going through the regulatory process as a result of Federal Railroad Administration Emergency Order 28, but that process isn’t an exact science. A Congressional mandate will be the best way to ensure the safest manner of operations possible, and we believe that means having two qualified people on each freight train in this country.”
To find your member of the U.S. House, go to www.house.gov and enter your Zip Code.
Friday, November 22, 2013 firstname.lastname@example.org
© 1997-2013 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen http://www.ble-t.org
Both numbers, part of the Current Employment Statistics program, were revealed Thursday by the state Department of Workforce Development and put into a national perspective on Friday by the federal government.
September and October figures were announced together because the schedule was disrupted by the federal government shutdown last month.
Wisconsin continues to trail its neighboring states in job growth since Gov. Scott Walker took office in January 2011 after a campaign in which he promised to add 250,000 new jobs in his first four-year term.
Under Walker, the state has added 88,000 jobs through October, according to the Current Employment Statistics.
In October, 6,000 of the jobs added came from the manufacturing sector and 5,000 were in the trade, transportation and utilities area.
The Current Employment Statistics figures are from a sample of a small percentage of Wisconsin employers. A more complete jobs picture comes from the federal Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, which covers about 95 percent of Wisconsin employers but is released about six months after the time covered.
Here’s our monthly update of the graphic that shows Wisconsin’s jobs growth compared to that of its neighbors:
Here are explanations of the industry sectors included:
Sum of 11 industry sectors. Jobs in the farming industry can fluctuate and therefore are excluded.
All nonfarm jobs except those in government.
Mining and Logging
Jobs in agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting, mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction.
Jobs in the construction of buildings or engineering products, including highways and utility systems.
Jobs in the mechanical, physical or chemical transformation of materials, substances or components into new products.
Manufacturing » Durable Goods
A subsector of Manufacturing, jobs that produce goods expected to last more than three years such as cars, furniture and construction materials.
Manufacturing » Non-Durable Goods
A subsector of Manufacturing, jobs that produce goods expected to last three years or less such as food and clothing.
Trade, Transportation and Utilities
Jobs involving the sale of merchandise, transportation of passengers and cargo and utilities service.
Trade, Transportation and Utilities » Wholesale Trade
A subsector of Trade, Transportation and Utilities, jobs that are involved in the intermediate step of the distribution of merchandise, selling to other businesses.
Trade, Transportation and Utilities » Retail Trade
A subsector of Trade, Transportation and Utilities, jobs that are involved in the final step of the distribution of merchandise, selling in small quantities to the general public.
Trade, Transportation and Utilities » Transportation and Utilities
A subsector of Trade, Transportation and Utilities, jobs that are involved in transportation of passengers and cargo or jobs in electric power, natural gas, steam supply, water supply and sewage removal.
Jobs in producing and distributing information and cultural products, providing the means to transmit or distribute these products as well as data or communications, and processing data.
Jobs involved in financial transactions or the sale, rent or lease of property.
Financial Activities » Real Estate and Rental and Leasing
A subsector of Financial Activities, jobs involved in the sale, rent or lease of real estate or other property.
Professional and Business Services
Jobs that provide services to clients.
Professional and Business Services » Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
A subsector of Professional and Business Services, jobs that specialize in performing professional, scientific or technical services for others.
Professional and Business Services » Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services
A subsector of Professional and Business Services, jobs that support the day-to-day activities of other organizations.
Education and Health Services
Jobs in establishments that provide instruction and training or health care and social assistance.
Education and Health Services » Educational Services
A subsector of Education and Health Services, jobs in establishments that provide instruction and training, either public or private.
Education and Health Services » Health Care and Social Assistance
A subsector of Education and Health Services, jobs in establishments that provide health care and social assistance for individuals.
Leisure and Hospitality
Jobs in providing services to meet cultural, entertainment and recreational interests, lodging or food and beverage for immediate consumption.
Leisure and Hospitality » Arts, Entertainment and Recreation
A subsector of Leisure and Hospitality, jobs in providing services to meet cultural, entertainment and recreational interests.
Leisure and Hospitality » Accommodation and Food Services
A subsector of Leisure and Hospitality, jobs in establishments that provide lodging or food-and-beverage service for immediate consumption.
Jobs in areas not covered by other sectors and not in public administration.
Jobs in establishments of federal, state and local governments that manage public programs and have ruling authority.
Government » Federal Government
A subsector of Government, jobs in the executive branch of the federal government.
Government » State Government
A subsector of Government, jobs in state governments, not including schools and hospitals.
Government » Local Government
A subsector of Government, jobs in local governments, not including schools and hospitals.
Obamacare’s opening fumbles may have united Congressional Republicans in a strategy to highlight the health care overhaul flaws, but among the dozens of Republican governors who made the decision on whether to accept the law’s offer of expanded Medicaid funding to their states, the reaction is far more diverse.
While Gov. Scott Walker is holding up his decision to reject Medicaid funding as evidence he foresaw the incompetence that has so far defined the Obamacare rollout, other governors who accepted the money are insisting it was the right decision.
“It’s going to save lives,” Ohio Gov. John Kasich defiantly told the New York Times. “It’s going to help people, and you tell me what’s more important than that.”
That statement could easily have come from the mouth of a Wisconsin Democrat, as could the comment made by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who pointed out that accepting the Medicaid expansion would prevent his state from spending hundreds of millions of dollars from its own treasury.
“What’s less expensive: Going to a primary-care physician and getting a physical and getting ongoing treatment, or relying on a crisis environment in an ER,” he told the Wall Street Journal.
Walker’s response to such points in the past is that he is not leaving the people who would receive Medicaid coverage uninsured, he’s just telling them to get insurance through the Obamacare exchange.
The problem with this approach is that some of the people Walker is shifting from Medicaid to the exchanges may still not be able to afford the insurance policies in the exchange.
Secondly, Walker’s decision to reject the Medicaid expansion, which has not caused significant problems in any states, results in an even greater reliance on the disastrous federal insurance exchange. His recent announcement that he would delay shifting thousands of people off Medicaid is a tacit admission that it may have been a mistake to rely so heavily on one aspect of Obamacare. Ironically, Walker, by rejecting an expansion of Medicaid — a program that has existed for decades — Walker chose to rely on the most radical change to the health care system provided by the Affordable Care Act.
Thus argues Politico’s Kyle Cheney:
“Scott Walker hates Obamacare. But Scott Walker also needs Obamacare.”
It remains unclear, however, which approach to the Affordable Care Act will be rewarded by Republican primary voters in 2014. The New York Times suggests that so far, although Walker and most other GOP governors did not accept the federal funds, they have not blasted those who did, indicating perhaps that Kasich, Snyder and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie may not have crossed a sacred ideological line in the sand.
Editor’s note: This article at first reported that some people who were being shifted off of Medicaid would make too much money to qualify for subsidies on the federal health insurance exchange. Instead, the reality is that many of them may not be able to afford the subsidized insurance policies offered on the exchange.
Coaches in every sport have raised the tactic to something of an art form. Get in the ear of the referees or umpires and keep chirping about every call that goes against your team. Give them a good chewing out on the small stuff. Wave your arms, jump up and down, and howl in protest over the big calls that don’t go your way. All in hopes of getting them to swallow their whistle later in the game or maybe even give you a make-up call, one that really shouldn’t go your way but does.
Works like a charm.
That fact has never gone unnoticed in the political world. Operatives mimic the coaches’ behavior, doing their best impersonations of basketball coach Bobby Knight, seeking to bully everyone from news reporters and political opponents to regulators and law enforcement officials into submission.
We’re seeing this kind of conduct on more prominent display more than ever in Wisconsin politics. Whenever journalists write or say something that doesn’t please the political types, they scream “MEDIA BIAS!” When regulators or law enforcement authorities look into apparent wrongdoing or, even worse, take steps to rein in misbehavior, the political players go into hyperdrive to smear the actions as politically motivated and the actors as witch hunters.
Take the John Doe investigation looking into possible lawbreaking by an expansive web of shadowy front groups, some based in Wisconsin and some from out of state, that sought to influence the 2011 and 2012 recall elections. The Bobby Knights of Wisconsin politics are screaming bloody murder that it’s nothing but a carefully scripted charade started oh-so-close to the approaching election year, timed to affect the outcome of the 2014 elections. Never mind that the probe evidently started in February 2012. The political Knights didn’t start whining about it until just now, in hopes of duping enough people into believing that the investigators launched the whole thing yesterday.
The Knights are claiming the investigators are partisans and smearing their probe as a political hatchet job that is targeting only Republican groups. Never mind that the John Doe inquiry is being led by a career federal prosecutor who once was on George W. Bush’s short list for an appointment as U.S. attorney for Milwaukee. Or that the Doe probe is being overseen by a distinguished retired appeals court judge.
The Knights are trying to do to the John Doe investigation what they earlier did to efforts by the Internal Revenue Service to more rigorously enforce federal law governing tax-exempt nonprofit groups that are supposed to exclusively work to promote social welfare, not just shill for politicians. Carefully following the script, they smeared the IRS effort as a partisan witch hunt targeting only tea party groups. Never mind that the agency also was singling out liberal groups for heightened scrutiny. The Knights never let facts or truth get in the way of good bullying opportunities. The result? The IRS is swallowing its whistle. It is neglecting to enforce either the letter or the spirit of federal tax law as it relates to nonprofit groups.
It is no coincidence either that the governor now is playing games with nominations to the state Government Accountability Board. Or that legislators are proposing to take retired judges off the elections and ethics board and replace them with political appointees. Or that the GAB is being audited.
They are working the refs. They are assuming it will work wonders. They are assuming the refs will swallow their whistles.
If they are successful, what we will be left with is a lawless environment. A political landscape where anything goes. Where political actors cannot be held accountable for crooked dealings, and where lawbreaking is not prosecuted.
Mike McCabe is executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. This column was first published on the group’s Big Money Blog.
While Gov. Scott Walker spent the past week promoting his new book and raising his national stature, Wisconsin’s other non-announced presidential hopeful, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, was generating his own news.
In this Washington Post story from Tuesday, reporter Lori Montgomery takes a look at the former vice presidential candidate’s efforts to address poverty, which might put some distance between himself and former running mate Mitt Romney’s infamous comments writing off 47 percent of the country as people “dependent on government” “who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them.”
According to Montgomery, aides said Ryan was “mortified” by the comment.
Since the Romney-Ryan boat sank, Ryan has been searching for a way to address the poverty issue, touring blighted inner-city neighborhoods and having staff talk to think tanks and intellectuals about ways to replace Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, which he blames for propagating a culture of dependence.
“Next year, for the 50th anniversary of that crusade, Ryan hopes to roll out an anti-poverty plan to rival his budgetary Roadmap for America’s Future in scope and ambition,” Montgomery writes. “He is also writing a book about what’s next for the GOP, recalling the 1979 tome that detailed (Jack) Kemp’s vision under the subtitle, ‘The Brilliant Young Congressman’s Plan for a Return to Prosperity.’”
So what’s his plan?
According to Montgomery, “His idea of a war on poverty so far relies heavily on promoting volunteerism and encouraging work through existing federal programs, including the tax code.”
In light of Ryan’s entitlement-slashing budget proposal earlier this year, his poverty-fighting overtures are being taken with a copious amount of skepticism by those on the left.
“Meet the new Paul Ryan agenda; it’s the same as the old Paul Ryan agenda,” writes MSNBC’s Steve Benen. “Indeed, let’s not forget that this is the same congressman whose budget plan is brutal towards families in poverty, the same congressman who supports deep cuts to food stamps, and the same congressman who wants to scrap Social Security and Medicare.”
Alex Pareene of Salon writes a column dripping with sarcasm.
“Wow, is it ‘Paul Ryan is a serious, brilliant, policy-focused wonk with a dynamic and inclusive vision for the future of the Republican Party’ season again already?”
Benen points out that Montgomery’s story “quotes exactly one person” who’s skeptical of Ryan’s anti-poverty plan, and that person was a Republican. And he paints Ryan as a clueless wonk.
“For a while, conservatives seemed to understand that the main problem poor people face is that they don’t have enough money, and not that they lack the desire or incentive to make more money,” Pareene writes. “Ryan, though, is an adherent of more modern conservative thinking on the subject, which says that poor people are the victims of government programs that help them buy food to feed themselves and their families.”
And about Ryan’s being “mortified” at the 47 percent comment? Simon Maloy of Media Matters points out that Ryan had his own similar take a couple of years before Romney uttered those widely despised words.
“Right now about 60 percent of the American people get more benefits in dollar value from the federal government than they pay back in taxes,” Ryan said in a 2011 interview. “So we’re going to a majority of takers versus makers in America.”
Jose and his wife Trinidad joined port drivers from three companies in a historic strike to defend the rights of their family, and bravely told the story of why they are fighting back in a recent op ed article in La Opinión.
Now, readers are wondering, “why did Jose’s employer refuse to allow him to be with his wife when she was having a miscarriage?”
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HOH’s One-Minute Recess
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OUR WalMart says there will be 1500 Black Friday strikes and protests at Wal-Mart stores nationwide demanding higher wages and the right to form a union without retaliation.
“There’s a new surge of young, vivacious, bold energetic power of young people on the job. And I think it’s redefining the labor movement.” – Rev. CJ Hawking
BLET supports creation of coal export facility in Washington state
CLEVELAND, November 19 — The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) is supporting the building of a job-creating coal export facility in Washington state.
BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce made the announcement in a November 15 letter. He said the union is supporting the Millennium Bulk Terminal in Longview, Wash., because it is expected to create many well-paying union jobs.
“The terminal will create more than 1,000 jobs during its construction and more than 100 permanent jobs after its completion, jobs that are sorely needed at this time of continuing high unemployment,” President Pierce wrote.
The project is also expected to create new rail jobs, another key reason for the BLET’s endorsement.
“Eight trains per day will deliver coal to the terminal from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming, which is among the cleanest coal produced anywhere in the world, creating jobs for our members throughout the western United States,” he wrote. “These well-paying, union jobs are the types of jobs our economy needs and the American people want, and the creation of this facility will provide them.”
Pierce expressed confidence that the coal will be transported by rail in the safest manner possible.
“The safety record of these rail professionals who will transport this commodity is second to none,” President Pierce wrote. “The transportation of coal by freight rail is safe, clean and reliable.”
Situated along the Columbia River in Longview, Wash., the facility is expected to begin operations in 2015 and would export coal to emerging markets in Asia and beyond. According to media reports, Millennium officials expect to export about 44 million tons of coal annually from the proposed facility.
The BLET comments were submitted as part of the facility’s public review and input process. A copy of the BLET’s letter supporting the Millennium Bulk Terminal-Longview is available here.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013 email@example.com
© 1997-2013 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen http://www.ble.org
Welcome to Roger Simmermaker’s “Buy American Mention of the Week” created specifically for consumer patriots who want to Buy American and contribute to a more-prosperous America. Please feel free to forward this article to family and friends, who may join this email list by clicking here http://www.howtobuyamerican.com/content/form-ba-contact.shtml. Thank you for subscribing and for passing this important information along!
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Buy American Mention of the Week
How to bolster pro-Buy American legislation
By Roger Simmermaker
November 23, 2013
Many Americans have been quick to realize that in today’s economy, the best way to bolster prosperity is by buying American products wherever and whenever possible, but have you wondered if our elected officials in Washington has come to the same obvious realization?
To help make sure Washington gets the message about the powerful and positive impact that Buying American has on our economy, a non-profit, appropriately named the Buy American Project, has been founded to encourage our legislators to support common-sense, pro-Buy American legislation.
The Buy American Project does not make, give, or offer donations to political parties, candidates, or legislators. But that hasn’t stopped this non-profit from being effective.
We (I say “we” because I am the founder) have already been instrumental in expanding the ranks of the Congressional Buy American Caucus by signing up U.S. House and Senate members. If you’ve never heard of the Congressional Buy American caucus before, you’re not alone. We’ve found that many members of Congress have never heard of it either (there are literally hundreds of caucuses out there that legislators can join).
And, once we identify a congressman or congresswoman who has a history of supporting pro-Buy American legislation (and there are more than you might expect), we make it a point to meet with them face-to-face, tell them about the Buy American Project, the Congressional Buy American Caucus, and convince them to join that caucus to make more of a difference.
What are the potential positives of a stronger Congressional Buy American Caucus? When pro-Buy American legislation is proposed, it can be much easier to pass it through Congress if everyone knows there are a number of legislators united and already on board to support it as evident by their membership in the Congressional Buy American Caucus.
What else? When bad legislation is proposed that threatens to take U.S. jobs overseas, a strong congressional membership in the Congressional Buy American Caucus can stand ready to make a stand against it and defeat it. The more legislators that join the Congressional Buy American Caucus, the more potential “no” votes there will be to counter anti-Buy American legislation.
It’s easy to join the Buy American Project non-profit, and in doing so, you’ll get American-made “rewards” in return with your one-year membership.
- For just $35.00, you’ll get a copy of My Company ‘Tis of Thee: 50 Patriotic American Companies American Consumers Should Know About.
- For just $50.00, you’ll get a 3′x5′ American-made American flag from American Aisle.
- For just $75.00, you’ll get a free pair of American-made Reno Navaro sunglasses from How Americans Can Buy American.
- For just $100.00, you’ll get a free pair of American-made jeans from the All American Clothing Company.
- And for only $250.00, you’ll get all four American-made rewards sent directly to your home or work address.
You can also join at a smaller amount at the $25.00 level if you don’t wish to receive any rewards in return for joining. But what better way is there than by joining the Buy American Project to support a great cause and get authentic American-made merchandise in return?
We’ve found that it is easier than you might think to get members of Congress to join the Congressional Buy American Caucus. If their constituents (often as few as 15 people who reside in a particular congressional district) contact their legislators and urge them to join the Congressional Buy American Caucus, they often feel compelled to join the caucus. The Buy American Project stands ready to work with you in getting those you already know and associate with to reach out to your congressman or congresswoman.
By joining the Buy American Project non-profit, you can become an important part in bolstering the Congressional Buy American Caucus, and help make it an influential force in getting pro-Buy American legislation through congress and signed into law. Right now the caucus is made up of a small group of republicans and democrats who support the Buy American cause. We want to make that group even bigger and therefore more influential on proposed legislation that affect Buy American in any way.
We need your help and support at the Buy American Project to support more pro-Buy American legislation and counter ant-Buy American legislation. Meeting face-to-face with legislators to make a strong impression takes funding, and if you’re a Buy American supporter, we’re counting on you to help us make an even bigger difference.
Joining the Congressional Buy American Caucus should be a no-brainer for most legislators. Which member of congress would pass up a chance to give a speech, hold a press conference, or put out a press release saying that they have brought American jobs home to or created American jobs in their districts through Buy American legislation. Keeping and creating jobs in America is still job one in the minds of the American people, and congress knows it!
We call it the Buy American Project because we’ve got work to do, but we need your help to get it done! The Buy American Project is the only non-profit focused like a laser on nothing else but pro-Buy American legislation, and making sure your representatives know to focus on it as well.
But we need help from “We the People” to get it done. So join the Buy American Project for as little as $25.00 a year, and help us bolster more Buy American legislation for a better, more-prosperous America today and in the future!
Roger Simmermaker is the author of How Americans Can Buy American and the award-winning My Company ‘Tis of Thee: 50 Patriotic American Companies American Consumers Should Know About (Axiom Business Book Awards), and writes ‘Buy American Mention of the Week’ articles for wnd.com and his website www.howtobuyamerican.com. Roger has a degree in Electronics Engineering Technology, is president of his local Machinists Union, has been a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC, and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New York Times, and Business Week among many other publications.