FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Michael Buckley
Hold Protest Rally, Speak Out at Hearing
Washington, D.C. B A railroad industry proposal, which enjoys the support of key Bush appointees, was condemned today by transportation labor unions who said it would suppress rail workers from speaking out on issues of working conditions, safety, and pay.
According to Edward Wyktind, president of the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department (TTD), the regulatory changes would, “use a thin disguise of new ‘filing fees’ to stifle complaints about unsafe and unfair conduct by the railroads.”
Bush appointees to the National Mediation Board, which oversees labor-management relations in the rail and air industries, are not only, “doing the bidding of the giant railroads,” Wytkind said, but would also be acting in a “dangerous and illogical” manner if it made it harder for front-line workers to speak up in a time of mounting safety and security challenges for the railroads.
Wytkind said the proposal would, “blow a hole in the collective bargaining system” governed by the Railway Labor Act. For over 70 years the federal government has mandated arbitration between labor and management over these disputes with the aim of reducing disruptions in rail service.
Outside of a hearing on the issue held earlier today by the National Mediation Board, 250 rail workers marched in protest of the plan. Testifying at the hearing, George Francisco, president of the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers, and chair of the TTD’s Rail Labor Division, termed the proposal a, “hostile federal tax on our members’ right to speak out,” which would give the railroads “an upper hand over their employees and an even greater incentive to ignore collective bargaining.”
TTD represents 35 member unions in the rail, aviation, transit, trucking, highway, longshore, maritime and related industries