This week, the Committee will be holding a hearing entitled “Passenger and Freight Rail: The Current Status of the Rail Network and the Track Ahead.” On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) and our affiliated unions representing passenger and freight rail workers, we appreciate the Committee’s focus on the industry at an extremely timely moment. Across the sector, the pandemic continues to wreak havoc, threatening both the health and livelihoods of employees. At the same time, freight railroads, at the insistence of Wall Street investors and hedge fund managers, have pursued operating practices that undermine basic tenets of rail safety, ask frontline workers to do more with less, and threaten the reliable and efficient customer service that should be the hallmark of this industry. Given the critical nature of these issues, TTD would like to submit the following for your consideration.
On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), and our 33 affiliated unions, I want to first thank Chairman DeFazio and Ranking Member Graves for inviting me to testify today on the impacts of COVID-19 on the transportation workforce. I am also proud to be here today with witnesses from two TTD-affiliated unions; Susannah Carr, a United Airlines flight attendant on behalf of the Association of Flight Attendants, CWA and Tom Shaw, a transit operator at SEPTA on behalf of the Transport Workers Union.
On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), and our 33 affiliated unions, I want to first thank Chairman Wicker and Ranking Member Cantwell for inviting me to testify today on the impact of COVID-19 on the surface transportation sector and associated challenges. As COVID-19 has spread across the nation, causing over 100,000 deaths and unprecedented disruption to our way of life, we appreciate the opportunity to share the perspective of the frontline transportation workforce.
On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), and our 33 affiliated unions, I want to first thank Chairman Crapo and Ranking Member Brown for inviting me to testify before the Senate Banking Committee this morning.
I have no doubt that we will hear about the critical funding needs of our public transportation system today. You will hear the same from me. I have no doubt that we will hear about the important lifeline transit systems provide to urban and rural communities alike. About the value they provide to American businesses, who count on transit to move employees and customers to and from their stores on main streets across this country every day. I stand by all of my friends on this panel and share their support when they talk about the importance of public transportation and its unmet funding needs.
Investing in American Infrastructure is an Investment in American Competitiveness
In the news and here in Washington, D.C., we most often frame discussions about trade in the context of creating or modifying international trade agreements. Those discussions have traditionally put working Americans in a defensive position. We fight to ensure good manufacturing and service jobs – the kind that prop up communities and ensure a chance at a middle-class life – are not sent overseas. We fight to ensure those jobs are not undercut by unfair or unenforced labor practices in countries like China or Mexico. We work tirelessly to claw back against false promises that opportunity and American competitiveness will trickle down to working families while wealthy CEOs sit in corporate boardrooms counting their profits.
As this committee begins to consider Amtrak reauthorization, and the intercity passenger rail networks of the future, we are proud to present a unique perspective from the Amtrak workforce. In addition to the TTD affiliated unions also testifying today, our unions represent workers across nearly every position in the passenger rail network – these are the workers who operate trains, maintain and repair equipment, oversee safe operations along routes, provide high quality customer service both on and off-board, and construct facilities. They are the workers who ensure that the 32 million trips taken on Amtrak every year, across more than 20,000 miles of track, and in nearly every state in this country, are met with the highest level of service and safety possible.
On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), and our 33 affiliated unions, I want to thank Chair Norton and Ranking Member Davis for inviting me to participate in today’s hearing.
First, I ask that the Committee allow me to submit a report published by TTD this morning entitled The Costs of Doing Business: Why Lawmakers Must Hold the Ride-Hailing Industry Accountable as they Undermine their Workers and Play by their Own Rules, to the record. My testimony today will be a summary of the findings in that report.
On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), and our affiliated unions, I want to first thank Chairman Maloney and Ranking Member Gibbs for inviting me to testify before you today. We deeply appreciate the Subcommittee’s interest in taking a fresh look at ways to promote the domestic maritime industry.
On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), and our 32 affiliated unions, I want to first thank Chairman Wicker and Ranking Member Cantwell for inviting me to testify before you today.
These are difficult political times in America.
Every day, we hear more and more divisive rhetoric and unwavering points of view here in Washington, D.C., on the news, over social media, and in our communities. The effects of digging our heels in hurt every single American. It drives a wedge between friends and family members. It drives a wedge between neighbors. And it makes us forget that the people ten states or even just one county over have the same desire we do for a good job and peace of mind for our families.
On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) and our 32 affiliated unions, I want to first thank Chairman DeFazio and Ranking Member Graves for inviting me to testify before you today. And let me offer my congratulations to the new and returning members of this committee.
Each of you asked to serve on this committee because you recognize the incredible and important role our transportation network plays in creating and sustaining good paying jobs and facilitating the world’s most advanced economy.
And, more often than not, this committee demonstrates to the American people that party affiliations in Washington, D.C. can represent a wealth of good ideas, and not just lines in the sand.
Your willingness to work across those lines, which too often divide us as a country, was evident last year when you passed a long-term reauthorization of our nation’s air transportation programs and when you continued the committee’s tradition of funding our water resources projects. It was also evident three years ago when you passed a five-year reauthorization of our transit, highway, and rail programs.