Rail & Labor News from RWU
Weekly Digest Number 42 - October 18th, 2022
Welcome to the RWU Rail & Labor News! This news bulletin is produced and emailed out each Tuesday morning. We hope you find each week's news and information useful. If so, please share with co-workers, friends, and colleagues. If you like, you can sign them up to get all the news from RWU HERE. Or forward them the link. Note: If you read over this news bulletin each week, you will be sure to never miss the important news of what is going on in the railroad world from a worker's perspective!
(Editor's Note: To date, rail unions representing more workers have now voted down the TA than have voted to accept it. RWU is proud to have issued a Call to Vote No shortly after the PEB was announced. Now we are urging the membership of the operating crafts to do the same, follow the lead of the track workers, and vote it down!)
RWU Urges No Vote on Operating Crafts Contract
Based upon feedback from working railroaders of the operating crafts, the Steering Committee of Railroad Workers United (RWU) voted Wednesday 10/5/22 to urge members of the operating crafts to vote down the Tentative Agreement (TA) when they receive their ballots in the coming weeks.
In the face of overwhelming opposition from union members to the Presidential Emergency Board #250 recommendations - of all crafts and all unions, of all age groups and seniority - in September, RWU had previously stated our Opposition to any Tentative Agreement based upon the PEB #250.
Because there is a consensus on the RWU Steering Committee that the proposed operating crafts' TA is in fact not dissimilar to the PEB, we believe that workers have very little to lose by voting NO. And if the rail carriers and the rail unions cannot do better at the bargaining table by December 7, then rail workers would and should be free to exercise their right to strike, fulfilling their desire to do so as expressed by the membership last summer.
Below, please read the Original 12 Points as to why any TA based on the PEB should be rejected. And then read the additional 10 Reasons to Reject the TA proposed for the operating crafts. If you agree with any or all of the points listed, then please Vote NO. Finally, make sure to read the flyer: So We Vote Down the TA ... Then What? As the great rail union organizer and working-class leader Eugene V. Debs famously stated more than 100 years ago, “I’s rather vote for something I want and not get it than vote for something I don’t want, and get it.”
(Editor's Note: After discussing and debating for more than a decade, RWU has reached a consensus that the private rail system has proven itself unworthy of stewardship of the rail network in North America.)
RWU Launches Long Awaited Campaign to Operate the Rails in the Public Interest
More than a decade ago at the 2012 Convention of Railroad Workers United, the question of railroad ownership first came before those members assembled. Since that time the organization has discussed and debated whether or not to take a position on the question. In face of the degeneration of the rail system in the last decade, the RWU Steering Committee voted unanimously at the October monthly meeting to adopt such a position (see Resolution below).
While the rail industry has been incapable of expansion in the last generation, while it has become more and more fixated on the operating ratio to the detriment of all other metrics of success, Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) has escalated this irresponsible trajectory to the detriment of shippers, passengers, commuters, trackside communities, and workers. On-time performance is in the toilet, shipper complaints are at all-time highs. Passenger trains are chronically late, commuter services are threatened, and the rail industry is hostile to practically any passenger train expansion. The workforce has been decimated, as jobs have been eliminated, consolidated, and contracted out, ushering in a new previously unheard-of era where workers can neither be recruited nor retained. Locomotive, rail car, and infrastructure maintenance has been cut back. Health and safety has been put at risk. Morale is at an all-time low. The ongoing debacle in national contract bargaining sees the carriers – after decades of record profits and record low Operating Ratios – refusing to make even the slightest concessions to the workers who – contrary to what the Class Ones may state – have made them their riches.
Since the North American private rail industry has shown itself incapable of doing the job, it is time for this invaluable transportation infrastructure – like the other transport modes – to be brought under public ownership. During WWI, the railroads in the U.S. were in fact temporarily placed under public ownership and control. All rail workers of all crafts and unions supported (unsuccessfully) keeping them in public hands once the war ended, and voted overwhelmingly to keep them in public hands. Perhaps it is time once again to put an end to the profiteering, pillaging, and irresponsibility of the Class One carriers. Railroad workers are in a historic position to take the lead and push for a new fresh beginning for a vibrant and expanding, innovative and creative national rail industry to properly handle the nation’s freight and passengers.
Please, read the full text of the Resolution below, along with the supporting information. And if you wish to take part in the movement to bring the railroads under public control, please contact RWU at info@railroadworkersunited.org
(Editor's Note: There has been a lot of great press out there on the NO vote in BMWED. See below.)
Articles on the BMWED NO Vote on the Contract
When the BMWED membership voted down the Tentative Agreement on October 10th, it sent a clear message that the contract is unacceptable. While 6 other small unions have now ratified, the vote totals have been relatively close. Most importantly, the total number of rail workers in the BMWED alone surpasses the number in those 6 unions combined. Together with the membership of the Machinists (IAM), to date, way more workers have voted NO.
It comes as no surprise that many of the smaller units voted in favor of the contract. In many caes under one thousand in numbers, spread out over 48 states, these organizations do not have functional locals in many cases, and it is hard for members to mount any kind of resistance to the officialdom. Just one more reason that the old antiquated craft union system needs to be done away with and replaced with a union of ALL rail workers.
The links below contain good insight and analysis of the NO Vote by the BMWED membership. Many of these news sources have been courted and groomed by RWU over the previous months and years. Check them out.
(Editor's Note: The segment below is from the BMWED internal caucus grouping "BMWED Rank & File United" which describes itself as "a Caucus made up of BMWED members that are tired of the status quo. With a rapidly decreasing membership, deterioration of our contracts, poor working conditions, and lack of union transparency. we have decided to make our voices heard and push for reform to empower the rank and file and bring union power back to the BMWED.)
So You Voted NO on Your Tentative Agreement, Now What?
Our union leadership will head back to the bargaining table and try and push for an agreement that they believe our membership will agree to. 
“But, my representative told me we won’t get anything better than what the PEB recommended. Is that true?”
They don’t know, nobody knows. What we DO know is that just having our leadership show up to the bargaining table, making demands, won’t entice the carriers to budge at all.
“Well, if going to the bargaining table won’t help, what should we do?”
The question has been answered over and over throughout history. ORGANIZE. 
“But how can I organize?”
Talk to the workers on your immediate gang or in your tool house and tell them what just happened and what we need to do next. Talk to your friends in the other crafts and in the community.
We cannot expect to win at the carriers game. If we think that the carriers are going to benevolently decide to help the workers, you are wrong. If you believe the government is going to come to the aid and give us the just contract that you deserve, you too are wrong.
Union leadership gets its strength not from how great of an argument they make at the bargaining table (although an important skill), but from a united rank and file. The union members need to show its strength and win the publics support. We must stand together in showing the carriers, politicians, and the world, that we are not done. Our demands have not been met.
Our union leadership only has power at the bargaining table if we give it to them. 
“How do we give our bargaining committee bargaining power?”
There are many ways to show strength. A couple are forming informational picket lines outside of your terminal on a specific day nationwide. Maybe it’s wearing a certain color. Or as simple as everyone wearing a sticker on a certain day. There are many forms of showing a unions power, but it is imperative that we do just that. 
There’s no time to waste call your union representatives and tell them to help you organize pickets across their territory.

(Editor's Note: Brilliant spokesperson Rich Edelman is well worth listening to in this interview with CBS News about the BMWED Membership voting down the Tentative Agreement last week.)
Labor Attorney Rich Edelman Speaks to CBS News Concerning BMWED Negotiations
Representing the Brotherhood of Maintenance-of-Way-Employees Division on CBS News this morning, Brother Rich Edelman spoke to the quality of life issues the Class I freight railroads have stubbornly ignored over the course of the three-year bargaining round. Watch the interview here.

(Editor's Note: The smaller units that have now voted to accept the TA still not do add up to the numbers comprised by the units that have rejected the contract. One more reason to replace the antiquated and undemocratic craft union system with an industrywide union of ALL rail workers united in Solidarity, Unity, and Democracy.)
More Small Units Ratify TA - NCFO, SMART-MD, others?
In the last week another couple of rail unions have voted by slim margins to ratify the TA. Now, "half" of rail labor has adipted the TA. Or have they? These 6 unions/crafts do not even add up to the number of members represented that the 2 unions combined voted it down by. And if the operating crafts vote down the TA next month, together with the BMWED track workers, these 3 unions alone will represent more than 75% of rail labor. So please do not be fooled by the fact that "half" of rail labor has voted to approve the TA,. This is just one more way that the divised and fractured natire of the archaic and outdated craft unions system works to the advantage of the rail carriers and against the interests of rail labor.
Two Workers Killed When Hit by PATCO Train on Bridge
CAMDEN, N.J. — Two construction workers were killed Friday night when stuck by a PATCO train on the Ben Franklin Bridge linking Philadelphia and Camden, the Camden Courier-Post reported.
The workers were struck by a westbound train on the PATCO (Port Authority Transit Corp.) Speedline, which operates between Philadelphia and Lindenwold, N.J. A Delaware River Port Authority spokesman said the accident occurred about 9:20 p.m. near the middle of the bridge but closer to the New Jersey side. DRPA police and Camden County authorities are investigating.
The newspaper reported the workers were employed by JPC Group Inc., a construction contractor based in Philadelphia and Blackwood, N.J. They were involved a long-term bridge rehabilitation project announced in March 2020 and scheduled to continue through December 2020.
The Ben Franklin Bridge, which opened in 1926, is a 7,456-foot suspension bridge carrying seven lanes of vehicular traffic with two PATCO tracks on a lower level.

(Editor's Note: A number of states have made a serious commitment to passenger rail. Virginia and North Carolina are two of them. Numerous new commuter and regional routes have flourished in these states in recent decades, taking millions of cars off the highways and creating thousands of good union rail jobs.)
Amtrak's Virginia Routes Log Ridership Growth
Ridership on Amtrak's state-supported trains in Virginia reached record levels in August, topping a previous record set in July, the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority and Amtrak announced last week.
During August, 119,280 riders traveled on all four state-supported routes, an 8.2% increase from July’s ridership level of 110,256. The highest ridership level occurred on trains to Newport News — a 12.9% increase from July’s level. The increase included the resumption of a roundtrip that had been suspended during the pandemic.
Ridership on trains traveling through the Newport News corridor logged a 28.5% increase when compared to August 2021.
Service to Roanoke and Norfolk also posted increases in August, following the July 7 launch of two new roundtrips — one to each city.
"The continued growth of our state-supported Amtrak service shows that rail is not only a viable part of Virginia’s transportation network, it’s a necessary part," said DJ Stadtler, the authority’s executive director, in a press release. "Every day we are working towards our mission of providing more rail options across the commonwealth."
The route between Richmond and Washington, D.C., continues to rebound from a pandemic suspension of service. In August, 11,828 passengers rode the route, a 22% increase over the August 2019 ridership level.

(Editor's Note: Compared to the last IBEW-CN agreement in Canada - given inflation - this appears to be far worse. One can suspect that the members are not happy. Maybe next time, the union will not capitulate and submit to binding arbitration.)
For CN, IBEW, New Collective Agreement
CN on Oct. 11 reported that arbitration with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) has concluded, resulting in a three-year collective agreement.
The new agreement is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2022, and runs through Dec. 31, 2024; it includes a 3% wage increase for each of 2022, 2023 and 2024, according to CN.
“We are satisfied to have concluded this arbitration,” CN Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Rob Reilly said. “We continue to focus on implementing a back to basics approach by running a scheduled operation, aligning capacity with demand, and working closely with our customers and stakeholders to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of the best network in North America.”
The IBEW workers last ratified a five-year contract with CN at the end of April 2017. It provided for 2% raises in the first three years and 3% increases in its final two years.

(Editor's Note: There is of course, no guarantee that this new Office will be able to correct anything here, but it is hopefully a step in the right direction. The Class Ones have treated Amtrak like shit for a half a century. PSR has made it 100 times worse. Perhaps it time that the private railroads were relieved of their burdens to operate passenger trains, and time that the rail infrastructure be operated publicly, like it is in the rest of the world!)
STB Establishes Office to Probe Amtrak Delays on Host Railroads
WASHINGTON – The Surface Transportation Board has created a passenger rail office that will be responsible for investigating and analyzing Amtrak on-time performance on host railroads.
The Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 authorizes the STB to investigate the causes of substandard passenger rail on-time performance, to identify mitigating measures, and, under specified conditions, to prescribe relief.
In late 2020, the Federal Railroad Administration, in conjunction with Amtrak, promulgated a “Customer OTP” metric to measure passenger rail on-time performance, with a minimum standard of 80% of passenger arrivals at stations to occur within 15 minutes of the scheduled time for any two consecutive calendar quarters.
Complaints may be brought by Amtrak, by an entity for which Amtrak operates intercity passenger rail service, by an intercity passenger rail operator, or by a host freight railroad over which Amtrak operates.
“The creation of the Office of Passenger Rail is the next step in a carefully planned strategy for the Board to meet its responsibility to investigate and enforce Amtrak on-time performance,” STB Chairman Martin J. Oberman said in a statement on Thursday. “The agency stands ready to handle any on-time performance cases that are filed. We are fully analyzing the quarterly data provided by the FRA, and we are developing a basis for determining whether any Board-initiated investigations may be necessary. The other Board members and I look forward to working closely with Amtrak and the freight railroads in the nation’s effort to improve its passenger rail system.”

U.S. Carload and Intermodal Volumes Fell in Week 40
U.S. railroads logged decreases in both carload and intermodal volumes for the week ending Oct. 8, according to Association of American Railroads data.
Carload volume fell 2.8% to 232,930 units, while intermodal traffic dropped 2% to 261,483 containers and trailers during the week compared with the same period a year ago. Combined, the railroads moved 494,413 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.4% compared with the same week last year.
Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2021. They were motor vehicles and parts, up 908 carloads to 13,955; farm products — excluding grain — and food, up 817 carloads to 16,909; and petroleum and petroleum products, up 592 carloads to 9,993.