Resolution passed by Railroad Workers United - October 7, 2015
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’s.
Whereas the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MM&A) had a record of compromising the safety and security of employees and the communities through which the railroad operated, scoring very low on the indicators of what makes for a safe railroad; and
Whereas the MM&A Railway did not keep its equipment in a state of good repair; operated with single employee crews; did not effectively manage crew fatigue; and had a poor “safety culture”; and
Whereas the MM&A Railway is primarily responsible for the disaster by placing Tom Harding and the residents of Lac-Mégantic in a hazardous situation, placing profit over safety; and
Whereas, MM&A former CEO Ed Burkhart has had a history of buying and selling railroads around the world, attacking the existent unions, and degrading safety and working conditions of the employees; and
Whereas Transport Canada did not effectively enforce its own railroad safety rules through proper oversight, inspections, or relevant operations testing: and
Whereas the relevant laws, operating rules and policies in place at the time of the Lac Megantic, Quebec disaster allowed
for that a very heavy train carrying a highly dangerous substance could legally and operationally be left on the main line with an unlocked cab on a steep grade, unattended, with only one faulty locomotive running in order to keep the braking system charged; and
Whereas the failure of an employee to perfectly perform all job functions at all times might be grounds for discipline and/or dismissal by the company, but should
not never be grounds for a civil trial and a murder charge; and
Whereas RWU has continually advocated for railroad safety programs that eliminate hazards rather than blaming victims of railroad accidents; and
Therefore, Be it Resolved that RWU once again calls on all North American railroaders and our unions to take an active role in making our nations’ rail networks and communities safer by insisting upon rail safety programs which focus on hazard elimination rather than simply worker behavior; and
Be it Further Resolved that RWU believes that in the aftermath of this tragedy, railroaders and our unions must focus on how to prevent future tragedies such as Lac-Mégantic through such efforts as: eliminating hazards; strengthening rules governing movements of trains carrying hazardous materials; restricting the length and tonnage of trains; reducing crew fatigue; and supporting measures to ensure two person operations of freight trains; and
Be it Further Resolved that while RWU does not take a position on their possible role in the train’s runaway, RWU considers the civil charges against Tom Harding and Richard Labrie to be outrageous and absurd, an attack on all railroad workers that could set a dangerous precedent for all workers involved in future accidents and as such, these charges should be dropped; and
Be it Finally Resolved, that RWU demands an immediate end to the injustice of this witch hunt and this attempt to scapegoat these fellow workers, and insists that any criminal charges should start with Transport Canada and MM&A CEO Ed Burkhardt.