SEATAC, Wash. -- A tentative agreement between BNSF and the union SMART-TD will allow for engineers to operate freight trains alone with only remote support.
Protestors arrived Wednesday evening to the Red Lion near SeaTac Airport and held signs outside a SMART-TD meeting, where union leaders are discussing an agreement that would allow one-person crews. One-person crews would mean an engineer would operate the train alone with remote support from a master conductor.
Opponents say this move to one-person crews wouldn't only cost jobs but fear they it would be a safety concern for workers and anyone near the train while its operating.
By taking that conductor off there you are increasing safety risks not just to our railroaders, and not just to our railroad families but to your community, said Shawneen Falck, whose husband works as a conductor for BNSF and would be affected by the changes.
Supporters of two-person crews say even with advanced technology, it helps to have an extra set of eyes on a train and an person for support to create a safer environment.
You don t have someone physically there to talk to you through a situation--it s horrible, said Curtis Rookaird, a former BNSFconductor, who has a pending OSHAwhistleblowing case after raising concerns about safety.
BNSF said the agreement would not apply to trains carrying crude oil, ethanol or other large amounts of hazardous materials.