Like all U.S. railroads, Norfolk Southern has business interests that can be affected significantly by policies, legislation, and regulatory decisions adopted by government agencies and legislative bodies in Washington and in states where the railroad operates. The company’s board of directors believes it is in the best interests of Norfolk Southern and stockholders to participate in the political process by engaging in a government relations program.
Norfolk Southern has a team of government relations employees in the nation’s capital who work daily to protect the railroad’s interests and educate lawmakers about the importance of freight rail. Government relations employees also are based in state capitals across the railroad’s network to build relationships with state and local elected officials and government agencies.
In Washington, Norfolk Southern speaks up about why freight rail matters to the nation’s economy. Partnering with the Association of American Railroads, a rail industry group, the government relations team promotes understanding among people who make decisions that affect railroads and railroaders, customers, suppliers, and communities. Building trust is essential.
To learn more about political issues important to Norfolk Southern and how the company participates in the democratic process, visit the Government Relations page on the corporate website. The site contains a link to view political contributions made by the company’s Good Government Fund political action committee.
“When we have our people come here – the people who do the jobs on the railroad – they’re not only telling the Norfolk Southern story, they’re telling a people story. In our case, that’s 30,000 people across our system, and they have families and friends, and so that’s hundreds of thousands of people. That makes a difference to members of Congress.”
vice president government relations, corporate communications, and corporate sustainability officer
In line with the truism that all politics is local, Norfolk Southern strives to make personal connections with members of Congress. Every year, the company sends several dozen employees from across the system to Railroad Day on Capitol Hill, the rail industry’s biggest event of the year in Washington. The value is that lawmakers get a chance to talk with railroaders, including some who live and work in their legislative districts.
Acting as ambassadors for freight rail, employees attending the 2014 Railroad Day met in small groups with lawmakers and key staffers to talk about three issues important to the industry: reasonable and balanced rail regulation; extension of a tax credit for short line railroads; and opposition to bigger trucks on the highway.
Employees put a local face on the issues. For example, one of the railroad’s locomotive engineers got the attention of a Kentucky congressman by talking about a train he operates transporting Kentucky-made bourbon to the Virginia port for export. A Norfolk Southern police special agent connected with a Tennessee legislator by introducing himself as a former offensive lineman for the University of Tennessee football team. A division road foreman of engines who works in Greenville, S.C., helped a legislative aide for a South Carolina congressman understand the role Norfolk Southern trains play in moving goods for several large manufacturing companies in the legislator’s district.
About 40 employees joined some 500 railroad workers, rail industry suppliers, and customers from across the country at the 2014 event, which was sponsored by the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association.
Norfolk Southern publishes a report on the corporate website that outlines the company’s political activities and contributions. In 2014, the Center for Political Accountability scored Norfolk Southern among the top 20 of large U.S. companies for voluntary political disclosure.
The fourth annual CPA-Zicklin Index of Corporate Political Disclosure and Accountability reviewed the political disclosure and oversight practices and policies of 300 of the largest publicly traded U.S. companies in the S&P 500. The index was produced by the CPA in conjunction with the Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research of The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Among the top-ranked 20 corporations, Norfolk Southern tied for fourth in 2014 with four other companies, each with a score of 91.4 points out of a possible 100. A company had to score at least 90 to place among the top five rankings. Companies were scored based on their disclosure, policy, and oversight of political spending. Optional disclosures published on Norfolk Southern’s website are in addition to legally required disclosure of federal lobbying efforts, which are reported in filings with the clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives and the secretary of the U.S. Senate.