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Expressions of Solidarity: UE's Call for Public Ownership of Railroads & Environmental Justice Perspectives

By Carl Rosen, Scott Slawson, mark! Lopez, Ivette Torres, Yvette Arellano, and Bill Moyer - Solutionary Rail, March 1, 2023

Read UE's resolution to put US railroads under public ownership. This resolution builds upon the Green Locomotive program they lobbied for at the beginning of the Biden Administration. Both address important impacts on and demands of EJ communities. Rosen and Slawson spoke about their work and engaged with some of Solutionary Rail's Environmental Justice allies, including: mark! Lopez of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice (EYCEJ), Ivette Torres of People's Collective for Environmental Justice (PC4EJ), and Yvette Arellano of Fenceline Watch. We also enjoyed comments from Molly Greenberg, campaign director for the Moving Forward Network and Bakari Height of Labor Network for Sustainability.

The growing calls for Public Ownership of US Railroads are an appropriate response to the MULTIPLE public needs/solutions that railroads have the potential to deliver, but refuse to do so:

  • EJ Communities need railyards to be electrified ASAP.
  • Rail labor needs sustainable, dignified work.
  • Shippers, growers, and manufacturers of all sizes need reliable and robust service that is competitive with trucking.
  • The Public needs a mode shift of freight from trucks to rail.
  • Rail passengers need freight railroads to preference passenger trains, as required by statute.
  • Public safety needs train operations that put communities and workers before profits.
  • Environmental protection and a livable climate need a mode shift to rail and the electrification of rail that reduces dependence on batteries and further harms from extraction.
  • The US energy transition to renewables needs access to rail corridors and rights of way for a new US transmission/SuperGrid.
  • Rural communities, farmers, and manufacturers need a return of regular and reliable service for passengers and freight.
  • US manufacturers of locomotives need unionized, living wages jobs building out the components of a sustainable and resilient infrastructure.

As pointed out by our friends at Railroad Workers United, NONE of this will happen without a dramatic shift away from the current corporate railroad regime. This is the time for all the above stakeholders to lock arms to take on and take over the Wall St. Railroads. 

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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