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Nation’s supply chain hurt by railroad workers being ‘ground to dust,’ AFL-CIO head says

By Admin

Reported by Harrison Mantas for Fort Worth Star Telegram.

Efforts by national freight rail carriers to increase efficiency are having the opposite effect, a union official said Tuesday.

Demoralized workers are leaving the industry causing delays and damage to the national supply chain, said Greg Regan, president of the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO.

Major rail carriers have cut roughly 45,000 positions in the past six years, according to an April 2022 report from the federal Surface Transportation Board.

However, the United States had 11.3 million job openings in May, with 4.3 million people quitting their jobs that month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Regan said workers are being, “ground to dust,” after going three years without a raise and being asked to work long hours to meet surging demand.

Rail labor unions have pointed the finger at an industry practice by carriers called “precision scheduled railroading.” Carriers say this practice gives their customers more reliable service, but workers counter its main purpose is to reduce the size of the workforce.

Add to this an availability policy put in place by Fort Worth-based BNSF in February, and railroaders are leaving the industry in droves, Regan said.

“Railroads are, of course, affected by many of the same challenges in recruiting that are impacting other employers. However, the railroads are outperforming the broader labor market in terms of recruiting and retention,” wrote Michael Maratto, a spokesperson for the National Railway Labor Conference, a trade group representing rail carriers in union negotiations, in an email to the Star-Telegram.

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