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Our Power: Offshore Workers’ Demands for a Just Energy Transition

By Rosemary Harris, Gabrielle Jeliazkov, and Ryan Morrison - Our Power, March 6, 2023

Over the past two years, we’ve come together with offshore workers to build demands for a just energy transition. These workers developed 10 demands covering training and skills, pay, job creation, investment and public ownership.

We surveyed over 1000 additional offshore workers and over 90% agreed with these demands. This plan is comprehensive in scope, transformative in scale and deliverable now.

Below you will find a series of resources setting out the demands and the paths we can take to turn them into reality.

We need a rapid transition away from oil and gas that protects workers, communities and the climate. But the government has no plan to phase out oil and gas production in the North Sea.

Oil and gas workers are ready to lead a just transition away from oil and gas, but they are caught in a trap of exploitation and fear created by oil and gas companies. Working conditions are plummeting, just as profits, prices and temperatures are soaring.

The UK and Scottish Governments must listen to workers to make this transition work for all of us. These demands lay out a comprehensive plan, which includes:

  • Removing barriers that make it harder for oil and gas workers to move into the renewable industry.
  • Ensuring safety, job security and fair pay across the energy industry.
  • Sharing the benefits of our energy system fairly, with public investment in energy companies and communities.

Workers have told us what they need for a just transition, now we need to work with them to make it happen.

Read the report (PDF).

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Bay Area IWW General Membership Branch Endorses Resolution in Support of Public Ownership of the Railroads

Adopted unanimously - Bay Area IWW General Membership Branch, March 2, 2023

Whereas, rail infrastructure the world over is held publicly, as are the roads, bridges, canals, harbors, airports, and other transportation infrastructure; and

Whereas, numerous examples of rail infrastructure held publicly have operated successfully across North America for decades, usually in the form of local/ regional commuter operations and state-owned freight trackage; and

Whereas, due to their inability to effectively move the nation’s freight and passengers during WWI, the U.S. government effectively nationalized the private rail infrastructure in the U.S. for 26 months; and

Whereas, at that time it was agreed by shippers, passengers, and rail workers that the railroads were operated far more effectively and efficiently during that time span; and

Whereas, every rail union at that time supported continued public ownership (the “Plumb Plan”) once the war had ended; and

Whereas, specifically, when the rank & file rail workers were polled by their unions in Decem­ber 1918, the combined totals were 306,720 in favor of continued nationalization with just 1,466 in favor of a return to private ownership; and

Whereas, the entire labor movement at that time was in favor of basic industry being removed from private hands, with the delegates to the 1920 AFL Convention voting 29,159 to 8,349 in fa­vor, overruling the officialdom of the AFL and its conservative position; and

Whereas, in the face of today’s crumbling infrastructure, crowded and clogged highways and city streets, poor air quality, lack of transportation alternatives and deepening climate crisis, ex­panded rail transportation – for both freight and passenger - presents a solution to these social ills and problems; and

Whereas, the rail industry today however is contracting – rather than expanding – at a time when we need more trains, trackage, rail workers, and carloads, not fewer; and

Whereas, the private rail industry is moving 5 to 10% less freight than it did 16 years ago, and in recent years has shuttered diesel shops and classification yards, and has drastically reduced the number of employees; and

Whereas, the private rail freight industry is generally hostile to proposals to run any additional passenger trains on their tracks – despite having legal common carrier obligations to do so - making it difficult if not impossible to expand the nations’ passenger rail network; and

Whereas, the rail industry has come to focus solely on the “Operating Ratio” as a measure of their success, and in doing so have engaged in massive stock buybacks and other measures that deliver short-term gains for stockholders but at the expense of the long-term health and vitality of the industry; and

Whereas, the Class One carriers’ failures to move freight effectively have contributed greatly to the ongoing supply chain crisis, resulting in some of the highest inflation rates in many years; and

Whereas, these “Fortune 500” corporations have raked in record profits, in both “good” years and “bad”, right through the “Great Recession,” the pandemic, and otherwise, right up to the most recent Quarterly financial announcements; and

Whereas, during these years of record profits, these same Class One carries have:

  • Failed to solicit nor accept new but “less profitable” freight traffic.
  • Forwarded less freight than 16 years ago.
  • Stonewalled practically every attempt by Amtrak and other agencies to add passenger ser­vice.
  • Failed to run Amtrak passenger trains on time, despite regulation and law to do so.
  • Downsized the infrastructure, physical plant, and capacity.
  • Eliminated nearly a third of the workforce.
  • Outraged shippers and their associations by jacking up prices, providing poor service, and
  • assessing new demurrage charges.
  • Thumbed their nose at state and federal governments.
  • Blocked road crossing and increased derailments by the implementation of extremely long trains.
  • Threatened and attempted at every turn to run trains with a single crew member.
  • Opposed proposed safety measures, from Positive Train Control (PTC) to switch point indi­cators;
  • the End-of-Train Device (EOT) to Electronically Controlled Pneumatic Brakes (ECP).
  • Taken a hostile stance towards the myriad unions, refused the bargain in good faith, consist­ently demanding concessions, all the while expecting these “essential workers” to labor through the pandemic without a wage increase.

Therefore, be it Resolved that the BAY AREA IWW GENERAL MEMBERSHIP BRANCH supports the public ownership of the rail infrastructure of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, under democratic workers’ control, to be operated henceforth in the public interest, placed at the service of the people of all three nations; and

Be it Further resolved that the BAY AREA IWW GENERAL MEMBERSHIP BRANCH urge all of its members to voice their support for this proposal; and

Be it Further Resolved that the BAY AREA IWW GENERAL MEMBERSHIP BRANCH urges all other IWW branches, industrial unions, and chartered bodies to take a similar stand; and

Be it finally Resolved that the BAY AREA IWW GENERAL MEMBERSHIP BRANCH urges all labor unions, environmental and community groups, social justice organizations, rail advocacy groups and others to push for a modern publicly owned rail system, one that serves the nation’s passengers, shippers, communities, and citizens.

SOME Rail Workers Get SOME Sick Days

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

East Palestine, Ohio train wreck: Railroad workers explain why Wall St is to blame

A Train Derailed in East Palestine, Ohio; Why did that Happen?

The NTSB, East Palestine Railroad Catastrophe, Rail Safety & Nationalization With RWU's Hugh Sawyer

You Can’t Trust What Reactionaries Are Saying About Train Derailments

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