Members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen,(BLET) a division of the Teamsters Union voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike vote. The BLET’s action meant that all twelve unions representing most workers at the four major freight railroads in the US were acting in unity to take on the major railroads.
Should a strike ultimately take place it would be the first stoppage since 1991.
Labor Radio spoke with Ron Kaminkow a member of the BLET and also organizer for Railroad Workers United
What precipitated these actions?
TAPE: 26 seconds…same basic position
Deteriorating working conditions center around scheduling. Railroad workers have completely different work schedules than do most workers. Kaminkow explains.
TAPE 49 seconds. … too much time off”
The other major barrier to an agreement is the carrier’s drive to impose one man crews on freight trains;
TAPE: 20 seconds] is anybody’s guess.
Rail employees are covered by the Rail Labor act- not the national labor relations Act. There is a multi-step process of negotiations, mediation, and then binding arbitration. The companies have refused binding arbitration, and so the parties do have the right to engage in self-help-that is strike unless the President appoints a Presidential Emergency Board. The Board was appointed Friday. The Board can issue a decision in about 30 days, and then the parties can accept or reject it. If they union members vote it down they have the right to strike on September 18th.
The possibility of direct action on the rails is unprecedented.
On September 18th barring federal intervention workers will have the ability to strike.
Railway Workers United is a cross craft organization of working railroad workers dedicated to bringing about the unity of all rail unions and have been one influence in bringing the rail unions together.
Reporting Courtesy of Frank Emspak for Labor Radio
Image courtesy of Scott Akerman on Flickr
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