Railroad negotiations appear to be on track for a strike
TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - With negotiations between railroads and their unions reaching a standstill, the likelihood of a railroad strike is growing. Experts told13abc that a strike would be a disaster for the economy, especially during a busy holiday season.
“The shutdown of the rail system would cost the economy of the United States $2 billion every single day that the strike goes on. That’s a staggering number,” said Jim Matthews, the President of the Rail Passenger Association.
Matthews explained what both sides are asking for: “The railroads want to control their cost and have control over their workforce. The workforce is saying that they want more quality of life and better benefits, and increasing pay since they’ve gone a long time without a raise,” said Matthews.
As a railroad carpenter, Matthew Weaver said workers do not feel valued.
“I work to live not live to work. Take care of your essential employees,” said Weaver. “It feels like we’ve gone from essential during the pandemic, to expendable during bargaining. Somebody looked at the ticker tables and said the labor was costing us a lot of money and we want to serve the profit margin of the shareholders better.”
According to both Matthews and Weaver P.S.R. – which stands for precision scheduled railroading – is putting a significant strain on the industry and its workers.
“...super long freight trains running very slowly all around the country. So what you get is unpredictable delivery of goods and commodities, exhausted rail workforce, and late passenger trains,” said Matthews.
Weaver said it’s important that workers continue to fight for what they want and need. “We do better when we all do better. So collectively we are raising up the working class, rail labor especially to show that we need good wages, more job security, more benefits, and quality of life,” said Weaver.
The Brotherhood of Maintenance Way Employees Division, which represents track maintenance workers, agreed to delay any action until December 4th. But Congress could step in at any moment to protect the economy.
For more information on the worker’s efforts click here.
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