EarthFix will host a live panel discussion, Exploring the Powder River Basin Coal-Train Proposals, on February 13 at Town Hall Seattle. The public event is designed to answer questions about coal exports, explore what happens next—and explain what all the fuss is about. Leading up to the event we’ll highlight the panelists who come from a variety of perspectives. If you can’t attend the live event, you can send questions and follow live tweets at #NWcoal.
For more information on this issue, check out our coverage of Coal In The Northwest.
Mike Elliott is a Washington State native. His father was a union tradesmen (plumber/steamfitter/welder) who lived and traveled the Northwest working major construction projects in Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Alaska during the ‘50’s, ‘60’s, and ‘70’s. After graduating from high school in the 70’s, Mike attended college at Eastern Washington University earning a Bachelor’s of Arts in Geology in 1982. Following college, he served in the U.S. Armed Forces (USMC) and in law enforcement during the 80’s.
Mike hired out on the railroad in the ‘90’s and has worked in the industry for over 18 years. He holds union seniority in several railroad operating crafts including Locomotive Engineer, Conductor, Brakeman, and Switchmen. He is a member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen and has served the union locally as division President, Vice-President, and Legislative Representative. Additionally, he served as Chairman of the Washington State Legislative Board, representing over 700 members state-wide on AMTRAK, Union Pacific, BNSF, and Tacoma Rail, from 2006 to 2012. Currently, Mike is a rail panelist on the Labor Transportation Coalition of the Washington State Labor Council. He continues to serve the interests of the Washington State Legislative Board in Olympia and on an “as needed” basis.
One of Mike’s primary areas of interests is building a permanent rail education program in Washington State focusing specifically on training, building, and sustaining family-wage, union jobs in the rail industry. Mike is also actively engaged in all aspects of rail safety. Ensuring every railroad worker has a safe work environment is one of the primary missions of the Washington State Legislative Board and Mike continues to support his union’s activities in this area. Finally, Mike is active in supporting and assisting the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the enforcement of railroad worker “Whistle Blower” protections. While there is still much work to do in this area, significant progress has been made since laws were passed in 2007 (Federal Rail Safety Improvement Act) to protect both injured workers and “whistle blowers.”