WASHINGTON – Rail workers, union leaders, and Members of Congress rallied in front of the U.S. Capitol yesterday in support of freight rail industry reforms, including paid sick leave for workers, a two-person crew staffing minimum on trains, and an end to the Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) business model, which has pushed the supply chain and workers to the brink.
The rally at the Capitol was one of a series of rallies across the country in more than 10 states, including: Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. The rallies coincided with a hearing led by the Surface Transportation Board to examine Union Pacific’s service performance failures that have harmed the supply chain.
Today, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is holding a public hearing on a proposed federal rule to require a two-person staffing minimum on most freight and passenger train operations. Rail labor leaders will testify at the hearing, including Greg Regan, President of the Transportation Trades Department (TTD) of the AFL-CIO. As the largest transportation labor federation in the country, TTD represents the totality of rail labor. TTD President Greg Regan’s prepared testimony is available here.
“Every single day in this nation, a life is saved because of the actions of a two-person crew. When a train whistle is blown and a kid gets out of the way – that is a life that is saved in a moment. But you never hear about it because the railroads are not required to report it,” said SMART-TD Alternate National Legislative Director Jared Cassity.
“These reforms aren’t going to happen on their own. We’re going to keep pushing to make them happen so we can deliver for railroad workers. At a minimum, every single railroad worker deserves paid sick leave and the guarantee of a two-person crew. These reforms will create a safer and better freight system for everyone,” said TTD President Greg Regan.
While Congress prevented a nationwide rail strike by imposing a contract on workers earlier this month, the devastating workplace conditions perpetuated by major rail corporations prevail. More than a dozen Members of Congress addressed the rally, including: Representatives Donald Payne (D-NJ-10), Andy Levin (D-MI-09), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01), Don Bacon (R-NE-02), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY-16), Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-IL-04), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14), John Garamendi (D-CA-03), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA-07), Cori Bush (D-MO-01), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA-34) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Bob Casey (D-PA).
Videos are available here. Photos are available here.