The New Corporate Strategy at Harrison's CSXT?
It had been my privilege to represent railroad employees for the last quarter-century. During that time, numerous safety improvements have been made almost universally across the railroad industry. I feel strongly that the Federal Employers Liability Act has been the driving force behind those changes. The recent tragedy involving two young CSXT conductors struck and killed by an Amtrak train outside Washington, DC illustrates that railroading is still an incredibly dangerous occupation. However, mandating three-step protection, prohibiting employees from getting on and off moving railroad equipment and mandating the use of a brake stick for tying down and knocking off hand brakes has saved railroad employees from countless injuries. At CSXT, Hunter Harrison has now turned back the hands of time and has eliminated these common sense safety precautions.
Three-Step Protection Vanishes
The result? Railroad employees will no longer be utilizing three-step protection, likely resulting in more serious and even life threatening injuries. Employees will also be required to get on and off moving equipment, most often onto dangerously unstable and debris covered ballast, clearly placing themselves at risk for serious injury. Lastly, the elimination of the brake stick will require conductors to climb railroad cars to tie down and knock off hand brakes, exposing themselves to slip and fall injuries, especially in severe weather.
Profits Over People
Why are these changes being made? Profits. The faster movement of freight will result in higher profits and an increase in stock price – all due to the fact that CSXT employees will be placing themselves at greater risk of injury. How do railroad employees counter this obvious lack of concern by CSXT for its employees’ safety? Quite simply, by utilizing the Federal Employers Liability Act, the the most effective law in the railroad industry that promotes safety, to show that these unsafe railroad practices will cost more in the long run.
Unfortunately, our brothers and sisters in the railroad industry will suffer. Please remember, however, that any injury caused by the failure to utilize three-step protection, getting on and off equipment and climbing railroad cars to tie down or knock off hand brakes may impose liability under the Federal Employers Liability Act on CSXT. I encourage all of my union brothers and sisters to complain to CSXT about the lack of safety precautions and to contact Designated Legal Counsel regarding any injury on the railroad. Please continue work as safely as possible but in the event of an injury, you must know your rights.