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A Major Strike May be Coming and I Promise You No One is Ready for it if it Does!

By Xaxnar - Daily Kos, July 14, 2022

Breaking July 15, 2022 — The Strike has been put on hold by presidential order — see the UPDATE story here.

The news about people who work for a living has featured some recent breakthrough stories, where previously immune companies have seen their workers organize and form unions. But what about an industry that remains one where unions have a long history and are still active? 

Very few people pay attention the way we should to railroads in America. That may be about to change, and not in a good way.

Sure, news about expanding Amtrak seems like a good thing, and there are plenty of High-Speed Rail (HSR) proposals — usually accompanied by reports on how expensive they are and how long they will take to build — if they can get past the NIMBY folks, the highway and airline lobbies, and the fossil fuel interests.

People freak out about bomb trains (understandable), and derailments — but how many people pay attention otherwise to the condition of our rail corridors, how much the industry is investing in itself, how much of the national economy depends on rail service, and the conditions for the people who work for the railroads?

Or the public good for that matter?

From Railway Age:

Nearly 100% of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen members have voted in support of a nationwide strike, which BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce is calling “a showing of solidarity and unity.”

The National Mediation Board (NMB) on June 14 set in motion a 90-day-maximum time clock toward a national railroad shutdown. It released BLET and 11 other rail craft unions (bargaining in two coalitions collectively representing some 115,000 rail workers) from NMB-guided mediation with most Class I freight railroads and many smaller ones, ending attempts to negotiate, voluntarily, amendments to existing wage, benefits and work rules agreements.

This triggered a “cooling off period,” which is set to expire at 12:01 a.m. EDT on July 18, 2022. At that point, self-help is available to the parties, unless President Joe Biden appoints a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) pursuant to Section 10 of the Railway Labor Act. A PEB would halt any strike or lockout by the parties, and would investigate and issue a report and recommendations concerning the dispute.

emphasis added

Dennis R. Pierce, National President, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen had this to say:

Pierce, in a statement released when the ballots were being mailed, emphasized that “authorization does not mean a strike will occur, nor does it mean that all railroads may be struck.”

The Railway Age article contains a long statement from Pierce, which opens with this:

“Today [July 12], the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen tallied the ballots cast in its first nationwide strike vote over national contract negotiations since 2011. In a showing of solidarity and unity, 99.5% of the participating members voted to authorize a strike should such action become legal in the coming days, and become necessary to secure a contract worthy of their consideration. Contrary to the self-serving propaganda being spread by the rail carriers, the BLET membership owes no one an apology for voting as they did. I too voted with the majority and I applaud them for doing it. But there is more to this story than just casting a vote in favor of striking.

“In the years preceding the pandemic, the majority of the nation’s Class I rail carriers adopted slash and burn operating plans with only one goal in mind; profits without regard to the health, safety, satisfaction or well-being of their employees, their customers or our Nation at large. To accomplish their goals, they furloughed or fired a third of their nationwide workforce, forcing the remaining employees to work more. They began running longer and longer trains, without regard for safety concerns, that continue to all but shut down the rail networks due to an infrastructure never designed to run these longer and heavier trains. As the post pandemic economy started to ramp up, they refused to adequately staff their operations, continually blaming their remaining employees for rail carrier actions that negatively impacted their shippers. Draconian attendance policies were implemented, forcing engineers and conductors to work day in and day out with no scheduled time off or be fired. These ridiculous policies forced thousands of employees out of the industry, either by resignation or termination, further compounding an already understaffed operation. And if anyone is close to being abused as much as the employees by this business model, it’s the shippers, or as they should be called, the rail industries’ customers.

Read the whole thing — it’s an impressive message. How well it will go over and whether a strike will occur remains to be be seen. Immediately below his statement is a critique by Capitol Hill Contributing Editor Frank N. Wilner, who takes issue with some of the assertions by Pierce. Odds are there’s been little about this in the news, and certainly not to the extent of laying out these grievances.

How far a possible strike will reach depends on more than one union. There are a number of railroad unions divided up on the basis of crafts; there are links to each of them at this link. They’ve been working without a contract since 2019 and they’re not happy.

Why does this matter? For one thing, the last thing we need is another supply chain foul-up. For another it’s going to be a big hot potato for the Biden Administration at a time when Biden is being widely disparaged by the press for his performance and is seeing low ratings in polls. This is not something that can be ignored if a strike takes place on his watch. 

It has huge implications for government labor/industrial policy, Democratic labor/industrial policy, government regulation, anti-trust concerns, and pushing back against corporatism/big money politics. Rail could also be a critical asset in surviving the climate crisis — or it could be one more lost opportunity.

The last railroad strike was in 1992 — and it had a huge economic impact. The result was a number of regulatory hurdles placed in the path of a strike, and it remains to be seen if A) the unions will go ahead with one, and B) what actions the Biden Administration will take to try to cool things off and reach a settlement.

Is this a negotiating ploy by the unions with no real intent to walk out, or is it an imminent event? A lot of things are now coming to a head, as per Dornbusch’s Law.

So how did we end up on the verge of a national rail strike?

The rail industry in America is a case study in everything that is wrong with the way corporations, labor policy, and government regulation interact — late-stage capitalism in other words. Pierce’s message above details what it looks like for the rail work force.

As supply chain issues have demonstrated, transportation is critical. Rail could be a huge positive asset in dealing with climate change — but the industry could care less and government has not been paying attention as the industry guts itself in the name of greater shareholder value. Expanding Amtrak is a good thing, and HSR (High Speed Rail) is something America could really use — but the real issue is we are simply not making the best use of the rail assets we already have and are not investing in the rail assets we need.

Labor unrest has been building for years. Railroad workers have been without a contract for three years now and the Class One railroads — the Big Four are CSX, BNSF, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific — have adopted an operating model called PSR (Precision Scheduled Railroading) that is not good for either workers or rail customers. Wall Street loves it though.

It’s an arbitrary metric metric that seeks to optimize the Operating Ratio. That is, seeking efficiencies to spend as little money as possible for each dollar of revenue generated. PSR is supposed to provide better service for customers while increasing rail profits — and to a certain extent it can, IF done with care and not taken to extremes.

In practice it can become a death spiral as shareholders and investors demand continuing payouts and cutting fat turns into cutting muscle and bone. Instead of operating in a way that prioritizes customer service, it becomes more a matter of serving customers at the railroad’s convenience, and only serving customers where the cost to the railroad falls within their revenue targets.

Growing the rail business by going after new customers is not an option, not if it requires investing too much in additional infrastructure, workers, and equipment to make it happen.

Some of the strategies railroads have used to implement PSR include spinning off lines and taking track out of service that doesn’t fit PSR guidelines. There goes physical capacity. Cutting the workforce as much as possible (and maybe more than reasonable) is another way to improve the Operating Ratio — for the short term. Running longer trains cuts the need for crews and locomotives — at the risk of derailments, crew fatigue, and other safety issues. Deferring maintenance is another temptation to make numbers look good.

From the viewpoint of railroad workers, the gains for shareholders have come on their backs — and there are fewer backs to carry the load. From Politico:

In the scramble to bring prices back down, one obstacle is slowly garnering more attention: a decimated railroad workforce, which agency officials say is impeding efforts to transport goods and, in doing so, further hobbling an already-delicate supply chain.

Over the last six years, Class I freight railroads — which include BNSF Railway, CSX Transportation, Kansas City Southern Railway, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific — have hemorrhaged a combined 45,000 workers,according to the Surface Transportation Board. That’s nearly 29 percent of their workforce.

“They’ve cut labor below the bone, really,” STB Chair Marty Oberman told the House Transportation Committee during a hearing Thursday. “In order to make up for the shortage of labor, they are overworking and abusing the workforces they have.”

For those who have not lost their jobs, their jobs are getting worse. BNSF implemented an attendance policy that was so onerous, it sparked warnings of real dangers. Warren Buffett owns BNSF through Berkshire Hathaway — perhaps it’s time we stopped considering him an ‘enlightened’ billionaire.

Railroad workers have always had to deal with uncertain schedules, never being able to count on free time or knowing when they would work next, but this made it worse.

At issue is a points-based attendance policy called “Hi-Viz” that took effect Feb. 1. Under the policy, conductors, engineers and other employees start with 30 points. They are docked points for absences. Being unable to work on a holiday like Christmas or during an event like the Super Bowl costs 7 points. An employee taking off a Friday or Saturday because they are sick or dealing with a family emergency would lose 4 points. Running out of points leads to suspension and, ultimately, termination. Employees can regain 4 points by being available to work 14 days in a row…

...In one example, a conductor used up his family and medical, vacation and personal leave days during his wife’s 10-month battle with brain cancer. Had the new policy been in effect, he would have lost his job, union lawyers alleged. The conductor tried to go to counseling after losing his wife but did not have enough leave days. He is now unable to assist his daughter battling thyroid cancer due to the Hi-Viz system, the filing said.

Because of the long distances employees travel and their unpredictable hotel stays, they might have to take off a Saturday and Sunday, for example, to ensure they make it home for a Monday doctor’s appointment. They often get called into work with a 90-minute warning and are almost always on call.

BNSF has since eased back a little, but the damage is still being done. Railroads have always had layoffs and furloughs depending on the state of the economy, but PSR has left them less able to cope. And it’s not like BNSF is struggling.

...The attendance policy change was implemented as workers have continued working through the pandemic via contract negotiations between 10 unions and over 30 railroad companies that have been ongoing since fall 2019 amid widespread labor cuts in the industry since 2017 where over 20% of staff have been cut under a new operating model.

The industry is pushing to reduce two person rail crews, an engineer and a conductor, to one person crews, which unions and workers have criticized as a serious safety issue that will lead to an increase in train derailments, severely affecting communities around the country.

“What the companies are offering at the bargaining table, you would think they’re facing declining revenue and decreasing profits, not recording the highest profit margin in the history of railroading,” Regan said. “It’s clear that the industry does not want to give an inch right now, and they want to continue to claw out as much profit as possible.”

BNSF Railway, owned by billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, reported record profits in 2021, with operating income increasing 13.7% to $8.8bn.

emphasis added

It’s not just about running trains either. Remember the images of trains being looted in California?

The viral images were shocking: railroad tracks in the heart of Los Angeles buried in a blizzard of debris, as scavengers picked at what was left behind by thieves who broke into cargo containers on idle trains.

...“A train at rest is a train at risk,” said Keith Lewis, vice president of operations for CargoNet, a company that tracks cargo thefts. “There’s a backlog of getting trains back to the West Coast from the East Coast. You got a lot of different supply chain issues.”

There are several factors being blamed for the thefts; the railroads involved have blamed it on “catch and release” where local police departments arrest people, but they are out shortly thereafter. What the railroads don’t talk about is what they did that led to the problem in the first place.

...Under federal law, Union Pacific and other railroad companies can employ their own police force accredited by the state to protect tracks. Former employees and police say budgetary issues have slashed the ranks of the company’s force, leaving as few as half a dozen in the region. Union Pacific declined to say how many agents it has.

emphasis added

But that PSR Operating Ratio must have looked good when they first slashed the payroll for railroad police, and now they expect the government to pick up burden.

About that better customer service from PSR…

Because railroads have cut payrolls and everything else within reach, they’ve been faced with congestion as supply chain issues and the pandemic have exacerbated what were already long-standing problems.

The rail industry has found it easier to concentrate on shippers who almost have no choice but to ship by rail rather than going after new customers who would require better/cheaper service to switch from the transportation modes they currently use, and investment by the railroads to gain their business. The end result is they prefer customers who have to settle for what they can get from the railroads.

Which leads to stories like this. Via Trains:

WASHINGTON – The Surface Transportation Board on Friday ordered Union Pacific to live up to service commitments it has made to deliver corn to a large California poultry and feed producer.

The emergency service order, issued in response to a plea this week from Foster Farms, directs UP to give preference and priority to unit trains bound for Foster’s facilities at Turlock and Traver, Calif.

Foster Farms told the board earlier this week that thousands of dairy cattle and millions of chickens and turkeys depend upon corn UP delivers from the Midwest. But since February UP’s service has been unreliable amid a shortage of train crews and related congestion on the railroad.

​​”The point has been reached when millions of chickens will be killed and other livestock will suffer because of UP’s service failures,” Foster Farms wrote in its request to the STB this week….

Railroads and America have a history, as the saying goes

There’s always been a love-hate relationship between railroads and the general public. Railroads made America a modern industrial power from coast to coast. Around the early part of the 20th Century railroads were the largest employer in the country. Much labor law came out of worker struggles with the railroads. Major cities would not have grown without them. They helped create a black middle class, and as anyone who has seen “The Wells Fargo Wagon” musical number from “The Music Man” knows, railroads used to be the equivalent of Amazon and Federal Express combined.

The public need for reliable transportation for goods and people led to a huge body of complex law trying to strike a balance between the public good and private profit — the more so because railroads often had a transportation monopoly, charging all the traffic would bear. (See the history of the Granger Movement.) The money games coming out of Silicon Valley are nothing compared to the antics of the railroad robber barons. That legacy still colors things today.

Because once upon a time railroads were seen as guaranteed money makers and great fortunes were made from them, the attitude in America is railroads are supposed to be self-supporting — including passenger and commuter rail. If a rail line can’t make money, if it can’t be deemed essential for some reason, that’s it. It’s understandable, but it’s an outdated view. 

Everything that competes with railroads is subsidized by the government — roads, airways, canals. Passenger service was abandoned because it had always been more an expense than a source of profit, and became unsupportable with car culture, the rise of the interstate highway system, the airlines, and the loss of railroad contracts to carry the mail.

Americans became disconnected from railroads. Where once every town of any size had rail service, it became less and less profitable for railroads to serve them. Steam engines required frequent stops so it made sense to serve passengers and freight while doing so. Diesels came along and could go great distances without needing to stop — so railroads cut back on local service. Diesels also need a lot less servicing, so thousands of railroad jobs disappeared from all those towns where trains used to stop. Along with that went all the myriad ways people connected directly with rail lines.

[For more on all of this, see a blast from the past, a 2017 post Why America just doesn’t get trains anymore.]

In the 1960’s and 1970’s, railroads were going bankrupt all over the country. The collapse of the Penn Central triggered Federal action, leading to the rise of Conrail and Amtrak among other things. Railroads were deregulated. Surviving railroads went through merger after merger, leaving us with the Big Four mentioned above and an assortment of what are called regional railroads and short lines.

Merger mania continues, in an age when. anti-trust concerns do not seem to be a high priority. Railroads look to mergers to increase profits — by eliminating redundancies, among other things — but that in practice translates into cutting rail service that doesn’t align with the merged railroad’s financial targets.

All Aboard with Amtrak, or not...

And then there’s passenger rail. Aside from regional commuter operations, and developments like Brightline, national passenger rail service comes down to Amtrak.

Amtrak is an anomaly. It was cobbled together under the Nixon administration as a response to the collapse of passenger rail. It was expected to fail — but didn’t. It lurches along in a kind of limbo. Republicans hate the idea of government running trains. Amtrak has no guaranteed source of funding, so its fortunes hang on political will.

Amtrak was designed to fail quietly. Richard Nixon and his advisors had such little faith in American passenger rail that one of their biggest concerns was just making sure they didn’t catch the blame when it choo-choo-ed into the sunset. Amtrak is obviously still around. In fact it’s more popular than ever, and paid about 94 percent of its own operating costs in 2016. But Amtrak's origin story could be why a certain sort of politician views Amtrak as a giant leech on the public: President Trump’s latest budget proposal halves the federal government’s Amtrak commitment.

Indeed, from its inception, Amtrak was not guaranteed any long term funding. Unlike the highway system—which is also heavily subsidized—it had to proactively approach Congress to clear its debts. To understand how this funky setup happened, we need to take a trip back to 1970.

By then, almost every American passenger rail line (by law and charter, freight rail companies had to run passenger service) had been in the red for decades. Cheap air travel and the Interstate Highway System had siphoned off much of their ridership. Many railroads were veering toward bankruptcy. This put Congress and President Nixon in a tricky position. On one hand, most economic experts predicted that passenger rail travel wasn’t long for this world. On the other, if they did nothing, the public would likely blame them for allowing a Beloved American Institution to fail.

Amtrak is still around, but still dealing with the original sins of its creation.

Railroads hate Amtrak. Outside of the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak runs as a ‘guest’ on ‘host’ railroads who would be perfectly happy if Amtrak went away. Higher speeds for passenger rail service require a higher level of investment in track, safety equipment, passing sidings, etc. — all things the PSR model would rather not deal with.

Amtrak’s need to keep schedules interferes with the host railroads and their desire to move trains at their convenience. Although Amtrak is supposed to get preference, in practice it often doesn’t. The elimination of ‘surplus’ trackage, and congestion also works against Amtrak.

Amtrak service along the Gulf Coast between Florida and New Orleans was severed 17 years ago when Hurricane Katrina came through and caused widescale damage to rail lines along the coast. Amtrak has money to expand now — but the battle with the host railroads along the Gulf Coast to let Amtrak restore service on their tracks again could set a bad precedent for Amtrak hopes to expand service elsewhere in the country. Via the Washington Post:

At the core of the conflict is a mandate that requires freight railroads to give passenger trains access to rail track and preference over other rail traffic. A federal board is weighing the fate of Gulf Coast passenger service in a triallike process pitting Amtrak against freight railroads. Because Amtrak operates mostly on tracks owned by others, the case could set precedent as the passenger railroad embarks on a $75 billion expansion with bipartisan support.

“This is the bellwether case for the expansion of any passenger rail in this country,” said John Robert Smith, chairman of the policy organization Transportation for America. “If the freights manage to kill this proposed service, it will send a chill through the rest of the nation aspiring for passenger rail.”

Amtrak’s plan for the 140-mile route from New Orleans to Mobile, Ala., is one of 39 new routes the railroad is pursuing as part of its plan announced last year to reach dozens more cities and towns. The aspirations coincide with Washington’s priorities for more rail and alternate modes of transportation, supported by the bipartisan infrastructure law President Biden signed last year. The measure includes $66 billion for the nation’s ailing rail network.

emphasis added

Amtrak isn’t just trying to restore prior levels of service along the Gulf Coast, it is trying to expand it — and the demand is there. The freight railroads see that expansion as coming at their expense. Hence the impasse.

It’s about today — and also about the future

So here we are. There are a few things that have changed in the last 50 years. Railroads are an even more important part of our supply chains than they were back then. With so much manufacturing off-shored, with just-in-time supply chains with zero tolerance for slack, disruption anywhere soon reaches everywhere. The pandemic, the war in Ukraine, many things are blamed for supply chain problems — but corporate greed is one of the things behind those problems.

As well, there’s a long-running struggle between the public interest and private gain, and just what role government should play. Republicans are dead-set against government investing in the public good — unless it translates into private gain for them and their interests. They are anti-government regulation (except for social issues), but the deregulation that turned the rail industry around has swung too far in the opposite direction. Railroads are now profitable, but those profits are increasingly at the expense of others — and at the expense of the public interest in what railroads could do but can’t or won’t.

So, today’s looming rail strike is a product of several long term trends. The decline of American railroads is not good. The idea that railroads have some kind of obligation to the public has been subsumed by the demands of Wall Street and the idea that it’s all about creating shareholder value. It’s a product of the long war on workers and the lack of meaningful anti-trust action. It’s the product of political neglect — with the decline of railroad employment and the disappearance of local rail service, rail doesn’t get the attention it deserves until things go pear-shaped.

Getting on Track to save the planet

That’s not a good thing — because rail could be a major factor in rebuilding our economy to cut carbon emissions and to make it more resilient in the fact of climate events. 

As for example, massive floods hit parts of Europe last summer due to extremely heavy rains. Germany has been working to restore rail service in one valley that saw massive damage — and they are allowing for eventual electrification of the lines while doing so. One of the characteristics of railroads is that they can be rebuilt fairly quickly when these kinds of events happen. Restoring flood-damaged highways and other infrastructure is far more intensive and can take much longer.

Rail could become a key part of a national strategy to deal with the climate crisis at the source: greenhouse gas emissions. Solutionary Rail has compiled detailed material on all the various ways rail could be used to rebuild our economy away from fossil fuels. Here’s a quick summary — there’s much more material at the link.

  • Electrify America’s rail corridors and upgrade them for faster service for both passengers and freight. It doesn’t have to be HSR — improving conventional rail would deliver more bang for the buck and do it sooner using existing rail corridors.
  • Power those rail corridors with clean power from wind and solar power. There’s more than enough untapped potential to do so — and do more as well.
  • Use those rail corridors for the backbone of a national smart power grid to make that clean power available to the entire country. A national grid would: make it easier to match power production and storage strategies with demand, increase resiliency, and provide the infrastructure for an increasingly electrified economy.
  • Shift as much traffic from road to rail as possible, to cut fossil fuel emissions and make clean power go farther. Rail consumes roughly a third of the energy needed to move people and goods over roadways; that translates into needing fewer wind turbines and solar panels to meet transportation demands.
  • Improve rail service with faster and more frequent trains which would: revitalize communities along rail corridors, offer economic opportunity to towns that have been passed by, reduce highway congestion, and improve air quality.

There’s no need to develop new technology to do this — it’s already available and has a proven track record. Other countries are doing this.

The chief obstacles are not technical — they are economic and political.

As to the first, implementing Solutionary Rail and related actions would require a massive investment, albeit one spread over many years. The thing to keep in mind is that increasing amounts of money are going to be spent going forward in any case just dealing with the increasing consequences of climate change. That bill is already coming due. Consider that as the cost of NOT doing Solutionary Rail or all the other things we need to do. Do it right, don’t cut corners, and the end result could actually be far better than what we have now.

As to the second, think of it as reverse disaster capitalism, in effect emergency socialism — responding to the climate crisis by making the changes we need to maintain a civilization under the rule of law while facing a world increasingly disrupted. It would be correcting an imbalance between the public and the private that has been driving inequality to record levels and corroding society as well as putting the planet at risk. Business as usual is literally killing us. 

A national rail strike is something that everyone with the power/responsibility to do something will be scrambling to prevent because the consequences would be so dire — but then so are the consequences of ignoring what’s behind it.

It’s an opportunity as well as a challenge. The question is, who will make use of that opportunity and what will they do with it? How will it be framed and what will end up as the prevailing narrative? What will we do about the underlying problems driving it?

UPDATE: Grumpy Old Railroader has a good explanation of what railroad working hours are like:

They don’t actually need to get around the regs. The Federal Hours of Service Act (HOSA) limits the time one can operate a train to 12 hours. But the crew may spend many more hours prior to reaching the far terminal.

Trains operate from Point A to Point B and the employee lives at Point A. The employee gets a 90 minute call to go on duty at Point A and may then work 12 hours trying to get the train to Point B. It is not uncommon for the crew to reach the 12 hour limit prior to reaching Point B. Then they wait for a relief crew. More hours. They relief crew arrives (often by carry-all) and the new crew takes the train and the relieved crew takes the carry-all on to Point B. Thus by the time our crew reaches their final terminal they have a lot more than 12 hours on duty but only actually operated the train 12 hours per the HOSA. At the distant Away From Home Terminal AFHT, the crew gets a HOSA mandated 10 hours off. Then they wait (sometimes hours) for a 90 minute call for a train to go from Point B back to the home terminal at Point A and the whole 12 hour clock starts again.

Here is the point. It is extremely rare for a crew to violate the Hours of Service Act. But it is common for crews to have a total On Duty time that is much greater than 12 hours. Add to that that half their rest time is at the Away From Home Terminal. So in summary, an Engineer or Conductor can be expected to be away from home for 36 to 48 hours before arriving back home where they will get 10 hours off before the cycle repeats. Thus on average, the crew gets 10-12 hours at home and then is gone for 36-48 hours. That is not a very good quality family life.

Grumpy Old Railroader also has an observation on how unlikely it is that there will be a strike, because of all the ways strikes are constrained.

Pretty good overall summary. I could nit pick a few things but your main points still stand. Even though BLET members voted to strike, they are unable to do so at this point under the Railway Labor Act. There is a coalition of rail labor organizations, including BLET, that are negotiating together as the Coordinated Bargaining Council (CBC). Under the Railway Labor Act, the CBC is in mandatory mediation which means the CBC and the Carriers are bargaining under the control of a Mediator assigned by the National Mediation Board (NMB). Several organizations, including the BLET have petitioned the NMB to be released from meditation. The NMB has no obligation to do so but if (big IF) they are released, there is a 30 day (I think) cooling off period after which the organizations and the Carriers to “Self Help” which means Strike for the CBC and Lock-out for the Carriers

If history is an example, a strike would be brief because this affects interstate commerce. The POTUS would create a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB). When a PEB is created, both sides have a mandated 60 day cooling off period while the PEB investigates and makes recommendations. Once recommendations are made, both sides have a 30 day cooling off period to consider accepting or rejecting the PEB recommendations. If any party rejects the PEB recommendations, you will be blown away by how fast Congress enacts those PEB recommendations into a Code of Law


I retired after 40 years on the railroad, the final 15 years representing engineers, conductors and brakemen in the 7 Western States. I’ve seen this dance before, Nobody will like the Law Congress passes, not the workers and not the Carriers.

For more on the Railway Labor Act (which has been extended to airlines as well) here’s a link to a pdf file.

While a rail strike is being talked about here in America, the United Kingdom is having its own go-round with striking railway workers.

Friday, Jul 15, 2022 · 1:37:58 PM PDT · xaxnar

Solutionary Rail has more information about what we could be doing with our railroads: the FAQ section can answer a lot of questions. There’s a “rail bite” that explains what Precision Scheduled Railroading is supposed to do — and how it actually works. Solutionary Rail also has a book — in both print and eBook format. (Free download with the code 4WRD2GTHR the last time I checked.) There’s also an Interview Series that contains some fascinating presentations.

If you are interested in finding out more about the rail industry from the standpoint of workers, check out Railroad Workers United, a group open to anyone regardless of craft; you don’t necessarily have to work for a railroad to join. It’s one way to stay on top of what’s happening on the labor side of the industry.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author.

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