Amtrak Union Blames Management for Deadly Crash

Operator was traveling in excess of 100 mph around sharp turn

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The Amtrak derailment that killed seven is still under investigation, but the union representing railroad employees quickly tied the accident to a labor dispute.

The Teamsters-affiliated Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Lodge 3014 (BMWE) published a blog post on Tuesday attributing the deadly crash to new safety standards proposed by management of the government-partnered railroad.

"The new ‘One Amtrak Way’, along with the new inexperienced Amtrak senior management (after the old experienced senior managers were fired) has lead to this massive derailment," the union said.

Public safety personnel were still sifting through the wreckage looking for several missing passengers on Wednesday. So far representatives from the National Transportation Safety Board are still gathering evidence as to what caused the crash.

Initial reports from the scene seem to indicate that speed may have played a factor in the crash. An Associated Press analysis found that the seven-car train carrying more than 200 passengers was travelling in excess of 100 miles per hour just prior to coming off the track. That would put the train at more than double the recommended speed for the curve, according to the AP.

"The surveillance camera from which the AP reviewed video was located at an industrial building a few hundred feet before a bend in the tracks, where the speed limit was only 50 miles per hour," the report said. "The Amtrak engineer at the train's control refused to talk to police Wednesday and declined to provide a statement to authorities."

The NTSB confirmed that estimate in a tweet on Wednesday afternoon, saying, "train speed exceeded 100 mph prior to derailment."

Reuters reported that the train was not equipped with the latest U.S. safety controls that are supposed to prevent high-speed derailments.

The Pennsylvania-based BMWE failed to mention the actions of the operator on its website, instead focusing on the union dispute with management. The crash, the post said, came as "senior management has declared war on safety with it's [sic] unions." Union membership unanimously approved a resolution in April giving union leadership permission to call a strike. Lodge 3014 had about 240 members in 2014, according to its most recent federal labor filings.

"The unions [sic] struggle to maintain safe working conditions is hampered by Amtrak senior management's lust for complete control and railroad inexperience," the blog post said.

Neither Amtrak nor representatives from the local or national union responded to requests for comment.

Bill McMorris   Email Bill | Full Bio | RSS
Bill McMorris is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He joins the Beacon from the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, where he was managing editor of Old Dominion Watchdog. He was a 2010 Robert Novak Fellow with the Phillips Foundation, where he studied state pension shortfalls. His work has been featured on CNN, Fox News, The Economist, Colbert Report, and numerous print publications and radio stations. He lives in Alexandria, Va, with his wife and three daughters. His Twitter handle is @FBillMcMorris. His email address is mcmorris@freebeacon.com.