WHAT HAS CHANGED
There have been many opinions voiced by railroaders to us at union meetings regarding Conductor Certification. Some railroad workers think nothing has changed. Some believe it’s the end of the world. Still others see the rule as a way for the railroads to get yet another weapon in their arsenal to shoot railroaders. So, who’s right? You decide:
THE BAD, THE GOOD AND THE UGLY
As with most times the federal government issues new regulations in the rail industry, there is the bad with the good.
The bad with Conductor Certification is that now, like your brother engineers, you have a license to lose. Moreover, you have more ways in which to lose it. Since I’m a conductor, I’d like to think that six more ways to get de-certified should end the age old argument of who is in charge of the train. Let’s face it, though, the argument has being going on for a hundred years and will probably go on for a hundred more. In reality, however, any conductor or engineer knows that when an incident occurs the railroad holds the conductor and engineer equally responsible, and will hang them together.
What is also “bad” about Conductor Certification is that current conductors have been grandfathered. On the surface that might sound good, but what it really means is that you have been given no additional training or tests, only more responsibilities. If an incident occurs, it won’t matter that the railroad did not adequately train you – that will NOT relieve you of your responsibilities. It is now up to YOU to stay on top of your craft, know the rules and understand the new regulations.
So, what is ‘good’ about the Conductor Certification rule?
In your railroad career, how often have you been pressured by railroad officials (managers who could not switch a boxcar of manure out of a train full of perfume) to run your train without proper air tests or papers, or to just perform stupid, dangerous railroading?
Through Conductor Certification, however, the Federal Railroad Administration (“FRA”) regulations have finally given you the written proof of what you have known for years - conductors and engineers are the ones who are responsible for the safe and efficient movement of passengers and equipment. You are the professionals! The FRA regulations didn’t license the CEO’s, general managers, superintendents, trainmasters, dispatchers or yard masters. The regulations only licensed the operating crafts.
So, the next time an unqualified, unknowledgeable and unlicensed railroad official tells you to do something unsafe and de-certifiable, remember, you have a license and a responsibility to conduct a job briefing, and a whistleblower law which protects railroad employees. Conductors AND engineers, without being insubordinate, not only have the right, but an obligation to protect the public, the equipment, and their own livelihoods.
And the ugly truth that scares the railroads about Conductor Certification? You not only have a license to lose, you have a license to use!
Please read the FRA Summary of Certification of Conductor Regulation. If you have any questions concerning railroad conductor certification regulations, please contact Hoey & Farina at 888-425-1212.
For the complete regulations, go to www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-11-09/pdf/2011-28175.pdf