Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The State Assembly Goes Loco

In March, the Wisconsin Assembly passed a little-known bill (Assembly Bill 287) that would require two engineers to be present in the cab of a locomotive when it is moving. My guess is that trains have become more technologically advanced, so it is easier for one engineer to handle the duties, and train companies are streamlining their staffing accordingly.

Now this may look like a bill just to protect unionized train engineer jobs, but are you ever wrong. Apparently the engineers are shopping this pamphlet shows that with one engineer passengers are more susceptible to – TERRORISM.

From the Teamsters' pamphlet:

In the wake of 9/11 and more recent bombing attacks in Madrid and London, the nation’s elected officials and law enforcement agencies are only beginning to understand the vulnerability of the nation’s rail network to terrorism…

Despite warnings from the FBI that the rail network is a likely target of al Qaeda, workers’ responses reveal a network where security efforts have largely been left to the discretion of rail corporations, whose primary interests appear to be guarding profit margins – not people.
So, for those keeping score:

2 unionized conductors: Terrorist-free

1 unionized conductor: Probable death.

Of course, unless both of those conductors are Jack Bauer, it doesn’t make any difference how many there are. I’d be surprised if they teach anti-terrorist Kung Fu at train conductor school. But thank the State Assembly for keeping the cost of riding the rail high when they mandate that you subsidize more rail employees with your ticket.