Teamsters Will Fight Proposed Rule Weakening Regulation Of Toxic Chemicals


Washington, DC - The Teamsters Rail Conference pledged to fight a new Labor Department rule proposed by the Bush administration that would make it much harder for the government to regulate toxic substances and hazardous chemicals that workers get exposed to on the job.


The proposed rule is supported by rail corporations and would further delay the development of workplace safety standards designed to protect workers' health. President-elect Barack Obama opposes the rule.


"All workers deserve safe work places," said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President. "It's not surprising that the Bush administration would try to push through this new rule as a gift to big business before leaving office. The Teamsters will work with the new Congress and the Obama administration to overturn this outrageous rule if it gets issued."


Rail workers are increasingly exposed to hazardous materials as freight rail and passenger rail traffic has increased across the country.


"If this rule gets pushed through by the Bush administration, it will mean more rail workers becoming ill from exposure to materials that they are not trained to handle safely," said Fred Simpson, Teamsters Vice President and President of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED).


A two-page pamphlet or 10-minute video presentation are the only evidence of a so-called training program that a rail corporations offer workers, despite their claims that workers are adequately trained on the safe handling of hazardous materials.


"Some of our members have died as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals such as nuclear waste, anhydrous ammonia and chlorine," said Ed Rodzwicz, President of the Teamsters Rail Conference and National President of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET). "Had they had the proper training and safety equipment, lives might have been saved."


The Teamsters Rail Conference represents the more than 35,000 locomotive engineers and trainmen of the BLET and 35,000 maintenance of way workers of the BMWED on freight, passenger and commuter rail lines across the United States. The Conference is a division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

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