|Date: Tuesday, November 29th, 2022|
For Immediate Release
For More Information, Please Contact:
LAS VEGAS, NV – RWU General Secretary Jason Doering 202-480-0587 email@example.com
DES MOINES, IA – RWU Co-Chair Ross Grooters 515-689-3229 firstname.lastname@example.org SPARKS, NV –
RWU Co-Chair Gabe Christensen 775-682-0889 email@example.com RENO, NV – RWU Organizer Ron Kaminkow 608-358-5771 firstname.lastname@example.org ATLANTA, GA – RWU Treasurer Hugh Sawyer 404-290-1961 email@example.com POCATELLO, ID – RWU Steering Committee Member Paul Lindsey 208-317-7379 firstname.lastname@example.org
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MILWAUKEE, WI – RWU Steering Committee Alternate JP Johnson 406-491-1791 firstname.lastname@example.org
CHICAGO, IL – RWU Member Marilee Taylor 773-405-5246 email@example.com FORT MADISON, IA – RWU Member Jeff Kurtz 319-470-9990 firstname.lastname@example.org SPARKS, NV – RWU Member Matt Parker 775-772-3675 email@example.com
TOLEDO, OH – RWU Member Matt Weaver 248-986-6079 firstname.lastname@example.org BOSTON, MA – RWU Member Nick Wurst 508-335-8633 email@example.com
Rail Workers Unhappy with Biden Call to Subvert Strike, Mandate Contract
Unfortunately, the “most labor-friendly president” has opted to side with Big Business and call for a thwarting of railroad workers’ right to strike. On Monday, President Joe Biden called upon Congress to adopt legislation that would mandate a contract and end the threat of any legally sanctioned rail strike from happening. This, although railroad workers have voiced a deep desire to strike in recent months. Rail unions representing more than 55% of railroad workers have voted down their respective tentative contracts with the rail carriers in recent weeks.
According to RWU General Secretary Jason Doering, “Despite making record profits year after year, pumping up their stock prices to unheard-of levels, downsizing the workforce by furloughing 30% of the employees and becoming some of the most profitable corporations on Wall Street, the Class One carriers somehow cannot afford to provide sick time for their hard-working and dedicated employees.” In September, Republican lawmakers attempted to end the strike threat with legislation that would preempt that possibility.
Senator Bernie Sanders was able to squelch that attempt just before the strike deadline on September 15th, literally paving the way for the Biden-Walsh brokered deal with the operating crafts and the Signal Maintainers. Ironically, now Sanders is telling Democrats not to deny rail labor its right to strike. “If the Biden administration has its way, Democrats will join Republicans in turning their backs on the needs of railroad workers,” states Ross Grooters, RWU Co-Chair. “Both parties would be taking away the ability of rail labor to determine their working conditions.”
Railroad workers have been vociferous in their opposition to a contract that fails to address critical quality of work-life issues. In an opinion poll conducted by Railroad Workers United this past summer, an overwhelming number of railroad workers of all crafts, all unions, all ages, and all levels of seniority stated their opposition to the Presidential Emergency Board recommendations and their desire to strike in opposition to any contract based upon those recommendations.
“The Tentative Agreements that the majority of union members had voted down are now being touted by President Biden, despite that none of them contain any sick time whatsoever,” according to RWU Co-Chair and conductor Gabe Christenson. “The ‘most labor-friendly President in history has proven that he and the Democratic Party are not the friends of labor they have touted themselves to be. These wolves in sheep’s clothing have for decades been in bed with corporate America and have allowed them to continue chipping away at the American middle class and organized labor. Except for a handful of progressives – notably Bernie Sanders – who have shown their willingness to fight for us, the entire political machine must be changed.”
Under the terms of the Railway Labor Act (RLA), Congress has the option to take a wide variety of actions when faced with a situation like what we are seeing in this round of bargaining. According to RWU Treasurer Hugh Sawyer, “Joe Biden blew it. He had the opportunity to prove his labor-friendly pedigree to millions of workers by simply asking Congress for legislation to end the threat of a national strike on terms more favorable to workers. Sadly, he could not bring himself to advocate for a lousy handful of sick days. The Democrats and Republicans are both pawns of big business and the corporations.”
Railroad Workers United will continue to fight for a better contract for railroad workers in this round and future rounds of contract bargaining. According to RWU Organizer Ron Kaminkow, we are in this for the long haul. Railroad workers are feeling their power, their potential. But we need dynamic new leadership capable of responding to the carriers’ attacks, and we need rock-solid solidarity of all crafts in order to achieve victory. In the month and years ahead, RWU will be organizing to achieve the solidarity, unity, and democracy we need to build a movement that can take on the big rail carriers and win.”
RWU Co-Chair Christenson: “This announcement proves that the current state of two-party politics will never address our concerns and must be changed. While this latest turn of events is disheartening and most definitely is a setback, railroad workers will continue to fight for what we deserve.”