CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The Wyoming House of Representatives advanced legislation to the Senate that would mandate crews of two persons or more on all class-one freight trains in the state.
The vote Thursday is considered a significant win for labor on a topic many consider to be a collective bargaining issue, The Casper Star-Tribune reports.
The legislation would essentially take minimum sizes for train crews off the table as firms like BNSF Railway Company and Union Pacific Corporation negotiate with rail workers.
Democratic Rep. Stan Blake sponsored the measure that failed in past legislative sessions, but experienced momentum this year with organized labor support.
Union members testified a decrease to one-man crews could present significant safety issues as railroads seek to increase automation and the demands on workers continue to rise.
"Technology is great, we all want it," Union Pacific union member Brett Taylor said. "But it doesn't always work, and it doesn't stop the train when someone is on the tracks."
The rail industry has argued the bill would tie its hands in pursuing technologies that could keep costs low and improve safety.
Pro-business groups including the Wyoming Business Alliance argued the bill forces the Legislature to become involved in private business.