The Looming Rail Strike

We hear about this from only one side…..that being it will screw the American consumer….this makes for a great campaign ad and of course it will be Biden’s fault and should give ammo to the GOP attacks as we enter into 2023.

But as with all issues that are used to divide the country there is more to this than the simplistic BS of the Right….

A new analysis shines fresh light on U.S. railroad giants’ “greedy behavior”—from gorging on their own stock to ramping up fees to pad their bottom lines—as workers struggle for basic rights and benefits in ongoing contract negotiations that could result in the first national rail strike in decades.

Updated figures compiled by the watchdog group Accountable.US and released Tuesday show that BNSF, a subsidiary of billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway that operates one of North America’s largest railroad networks, saw its net income rise 4% to $4.4 billion during the first three quarters of 2022. Union Pacific, meanwhile, saw its profits jump 11% to $5.36 billion during that period.

In those nine months, Union Pacific spent nearly $8 billion on stock buybacks and dividend payouts to shareholders, Accountable.US notes.

The rail transportation giant CSX reported a 37% surge in Fiscal Year 2021 net income, the watchdog added, and the company repurchased $3.7 billion worth of its own shares during the first three quarters of this year.

Rail workers haven’t fared nearly as well as industry giants and their wealthy executives and shareholders. For the past three years, many rail employees have worked under increasingly grueling conditions without a raise as management continues to resist demands for changes to draconian attendance policies, better pay, and foundational quality-of-life benefits such as paid sick leave.

“The same wealthy rail industry executives that say they can’t afford to pay their workers fair wages all had banner years in net revenue and shareholder giveaways,” said Liz Zelnick, a spokesperson for Accountable.US. “The big rail industry’s own earnings reports show they didn’t need to cut corners on safety and gouge businesses with excessive fees that get passed onto consumers. It only adds up to one thing: greed.”

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/11/23/greedy-behavior-profit-hungry-rail-industry-blamed-looming-strike

As usual it is the ‘robber barons’ that are the problem NOT the workers…..but not to worry Biden has a plan to avoid a strike….

President Biden urged Congress on Monday evening to immediately approve legislation that would head off a railroad shutdown by forcing workers and companies to enact the tentative agreement they reached in September. Without final approval of the deal, a shutdown could begin Dec. 9, per Axios. “As a proud pro-labor president, I am reluctant to override the ratification procedures and the views of those who voted against the agreement,” Biden said in a statement. “But in this case—where the economic impact of a shutdown would hurt millions of other working people and families—I believe Congress must use its powers to adopt this deal.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement later saying the House will consider the legislation this week, though she echoed Biden’s reluctance to interfere with ratification. A shutdown, she said, “would grind our economy to a halt.” The Senate would be next, and Democrats there would have enough Republican support to overcome a potential filibuster, per CNN. Members of four of the 12 unions involved have rejected the agreement, per Politico. Many workers want a few sick days added to the deal, which was brokered by the administration. Biden said further negotiation could cause delays leading to a work stoppage.

Under the Railway Labor Act of 1926, with interstate commerce in play, Congress could put the contract in force or extend the “cooling-off period” to keep trains running during negotiations. Business groups said a shutdown could lead to shortages, higher prices, and a halt to factory production with, for example, the movement of 6,300 carloads of food and farm products a day disrupted. And passenger service for 7 million people a day would be affected, the groups said. Railroads would suspend the shipping of hazardous chemicals and fertilizers, as well as perishable goods, before a shutdown so they wouldn’t be stuck someplace.

As a labor organizer from years ago I support the workers…..if these companies have extra cash to buy back their stocks then they have the cash to pay the workers descent salaries and benefits.

The GOP will try to inyervene….at least Bernie has come out in defense of the workers…..

A House Republican from Pennsylvania said Sunday that Congress will intervene to stop a nationwide strike if rail companies and unions don’t reach a contract agreement soon, a step that would likely force workers to accept a deal without any paid sick days.

Acknowledging that rail workers “have a very reasonable ask” for better benefits and wages as they continue to labor under a punishing scheduling system, Rep. Brian Kevin Fitzpatrick said in a Fox News appearance Sunday that “Congress will not let this strike happen, that’s for sure.”

“It would be devastating for our economy” Fitzpatrick added. “We’ll get to a resolution one way or another.”

Powerful industry groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Association of American Railroads have been pressuring Congress to step in after members of the largest rail union in the United States voted to reject a White House-brokered contract deal that rebuffed workers’ push for at least 15 days of paid sick leave. The deal, touted by the Biden White House as a victory for workers and profitable rail companies, does not include a single paid sick day.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/11/28/sanders-vows-stand-rail-workers-republican-says-congress-will-prevent-strike

Pressuring?  You realize that means bribing the Congress to see their way, right?

The one thing you can be sure of in the strike outcome…..the workers will lose and massive profits will flow.

Enough said!

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

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10 thoughts on “The Looming Rail Strike

  1. Over here, the MSM continues to blame the unions without stating how greedy the rail companies are. But the public actually supports the workers, so that has backfired.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. As for me, I liked the approach that FDR used to address the rail situation. The average wage per hour for railroad workers right now is as much as $26 dollars per hour and if they can’t live off that, they need to be doing something else.

    1. Flipping burgers for instance? I have no problem with their wages I do have issue with the companies using the money for stock buybacks i n a manipulation scheme…..plus they pay little tax unlike the workers. chuq

      1. I have no problem with their wages either and they should have no problem with their wages either– Those are excellent wages for the working class …

      2. The health care and the others that are normally given is their problem….after all their cash for playing games for the stock holders would not be possible without the hard work these people do. chuq

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