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As publicly traded railroad corporations held their annual meetings this week, the BLET criticized railroad management for opposing safety reforms that would improve railroad operations for both workers and the communities that the railroads serve.

“This week, CSX, Union Pacific and Berkshire Hathaway, which owns BNSF, opposed shareholder resolutions that would create board committees focused on rail safety,” BLET National President Eddie Hall said. “This is incredibly short-sighted and in no one’s best interests — certainly not the investors’ interests. We’ve all seen how an East Palestine disaster can cost hundreds of millions of dollars. How much more will the next big wreck cost, especially if it’s in a densely populated area?”

A shareholder resolution is a request submitted to a company by a shareholder asking the company to address an issue of concern. Resolutions are a powerful way to encourage corporate responsibility and discourage practices that are unsustainable, unethical, or increase  exposure to risk. One shareholder proposal at CSX takes aim at the unsustainable business model known as PSR by establishing a Railroad Safety Committee: “While PSR may reduce staffing costs in the short-run, we believe that the long-term cost of increased derailments will outweigh any short-term financial gain. By establishing a Railroad Safety Committee, our Company (CSX) can reduce the likelihood of derailments, protect its workforce, safeguard communities along its routes, provide better service to customers, demonstrate its commitment to ethical business practices, and enhance our Company’s long-term value.”

CSX’s Board of Directors unanimously recommended that shareholders vote against the proposal.

“Freight railroads and their trade association, AAR, love spending money on TV ads talking about safety, but their talk doesn’t match their actions,” President Hall said. “The railroad industry never misses an opportunity to push back against real reforms that would make rail safer for both workers and the communities served by rail.”

Railroads have been slow to adopt the C3RS safety program and BNSF and Union Pacific recently went to court in a desperate attempt to block the FRA’s new safety regulation requiring two-person crews.

“The railroads’ disregard for safety and their reckless behavior is both shameful and dangerous,” President Hall said.