Reported by Todd von Kampen for the North Platte Telegraph.
Bailey Yard workers are more prone to give up on railroading after three years of layoffs followed by COVID-19, a North Platte rail union leader told an AFL-CIO virtual “town hall” last week.
Mike Gage, president of Local 1920 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, spoke second among 15 U.S. members of individual craft unions during Thursday’s hour-long forum related to rail labor negotiations with the nation’s major railroads.
“The shortage of workers has really had an effect on us,” said Gage, a 17-year Union Pacific Railroad veteran at the world’s largest classification yard.
Despite recent U.P. efforts to recall or hire workers, “those of us who are lucky enough not to have been furloughed during this still are dealing with the fallout from being shorthanded.”
In further comments at the forum’s end, Gage said he has seen Bailey employees “with 10, 15, 20 years walking away from this job and quitting.
“That used to be unheard of, you know. And I think these factors are just a byproduct of the deteriorating work environment that we have out there and the attitude of the work force.”
Other nationwide union members said railroaders’ time to rest, tend to personal business or spend time with family has largely vanished due to the spread of “precision scheduled railroading” across the U.S. rail industry.
Railroads and their working conditions are less safe now than before PSR because so many workers are constantly fatigued, they said.
Online users can view the full town hall through the Facebook or YouTube pages of the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department or on its website at ttd.org.
When contacted Monday for comment by The Telegraph, U.P. spokeswoman Robynn Tysver referred readers to the National Railway Labor Conference’s position on current rail issues at raillaborfacts.org.
The June 15 end of federal mediation and threats of a nationwide rail strike led President Joe Biden July 15 to invoke federal law and appoint an emergency board to recommend settlement terms to resolve the three-year dispute between carriers and unions.
A 30-day “cooling-off period” will follow the board’s release of its recommendations, expected to take place no later than Aug. 15. No work stoppages are permitted currently and during that upcoming period.
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