Las Vegas, Nevada – On January 9th, ATDA President Dowell and Executive Assistant to the President Ursini met with Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su, Brightline West President Sarah Watterson, various Organized Labor representatives, and staff members from the Departments of Transportation and Labor. Central to the roundtable discussion was the impact of President Biden’s recent investment into High Speed Rail, with a primary focus of the Brightline West project.
Those contributing also discussed the larger-picture impact of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda as a generator of union jobs. President Dowell conveyed to Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su that, “Although much of Brightline’s initial union job creation will be within building trades, the focus will shift to rail labor as time goes on. Brightline’s goal is to be operational before the start of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, so the benefit to rail unions isn’t far off at all. This High-Speed rail line will create nearly 1000 good, union jobs. They will provide a lifelong impact for the employees, their families and the entire region.”
In a meeting following the roundtable event, President Dowell asked Brightline West President Watterson to go on record and confirm that Brightline West will employ their own train dispatchers and not contract out its dispatching service. In response, Watterson said “Brightline West will have their own train dispatchers and their office will be in Las Vegas.” President Dowell expressed optimism in response, stating, “Meetings like this are not typical in our industry. I have expressed to Brightline West that we are here to help them succeed and not be an obstacle. Success is in both our best interest. If this project is a success, we will see more true High-Speed Rail projects in the U.S. and that means more Train Dispatchers.” The ATDA considers the Brightline West investment, the Las Vegas roundtable meeting, and the continually expanding political access it now enjoys to be a positive reflection of President Biden’s commitment to labor. The opportunity to dialogue with and raise concerns to a White House Cabinet Member is a rare and invaluable development.