Union appeals to President Trump over KCS’ use of Mexican crews in US

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Kansas City Southern
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio – The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, which last week lost a federal court decision regarding Kansas City Southern’s use of international crews at the Laredo, Texas, gateway, is now appealing to the court of public opinion.

The union has asked President Trump to intervene on its behalf.

“Mr. President, we believe the railroads’ actions to give the jobs of American workers to foreign workers run counter to your own trade goals, and to your commitments to all American workers,” Dennis Pierce, the union’s national president, wrote in a July 10 letter to the White House.

KCS has said that shifting the cross-border crew-change point 9 miles, from the International Bridge to Laredo Yard, will not result in layoffs of American workers at subsidiary Texas-Mexican Railway.

KCS says the move – which began this week – improves service, creates capacity on the single-track bridge, and boosts safety and security by keeping trains moving in congested areas of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.

The bridge over the Rio Grande, which also carries traffic Union Pacific interchanges with KCS de Mexico, is a bottleneck at the busiest U.S.-Mexico rail crossing.

The union noted that the North American Free Trade Agreement prohibits American crews from operating trains in Mexico.

“A 10-mile retreat from our borders, as the railroads intend to do as this is written, is certainly inconsistent with keeping work in the hands of American workers,” Pierce wrote. “On behalf of our nearly 37,000 working members – and particularly those who stand to lose the work they perform today – I respectfully request that you assist the affected American workers by giving this critical matter your personal attention.”

In a ruling last week that barred the union from striking over the crew-change shift, a federal judge dismissed several concerns that the union raised regarding the training and qualification of Mexican crews. But Pierce nonetheless brought those issues to the president’s attention.

Trump has used Twitter to criticize companies in a variety of industries, including pharmaceuticals, airlines, automakers, defense contractors, and retailers. A railroad has not yet been the subject of one of the president’s tweetstorms.

In NAFTA negotiations, the Trump administration has aimed to tighten restrictions on Mexican truck drivers operating in the U.S.

Currently Mexican truck drivers are effectively limited to short cross-border moves into the U.S., where they exchange the loads with American drivers for long-haul moves into the U.S.
With an American crew at the controls, a northbound Kansas City Southern empty grain train eases across the International Bridge in Laredo, Texas, and past the Union Pacific depot in November 2017. Ahead: 32 grade crossings in Laredo before the train reaches Laredo Yard.
Bill Stephens

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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