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Joe Biden has a Chance to Help East Palestine

A new coalition demands healthcare and justice for East Palestine

Coalition of residents, unionists and activists coming together in East Palestine to demand health care

By Steve Mellon - Pittsburg Union Progress, March 19, 2024

Here’s the story of two men. One is a Trump-supporting blue-collar conservative from a small town in rural Ohio; the other is the son of a Mexican immigrant and describes himself as a socialist and a “lefty nut job.” They’ll be getting together later this week, and of course they’ll soon come to blows, right? Or at least hurl insults at each other?

That’s the narrative we’ve all come to expect. You see it on cable news shows, on social media. Division is hot these days.

But in the real world, the one in which trains fly off their tracks and spill toxic loads in America’s backyards, Chris Albright and Maximilian Alvarez recognize they have more in common than that which separates them.

That bond will be on display Saturday, during an event in East Palestine, Ohio, involving local residents, unionists, community activists and environmentalists from around the country. They’re getting together to demand the federal government step in and make certain those affected by the derailment are provided with health care.

The get-together will feature music and a lineup of speakers that includes residents of East Palestine and other communities affected by toxic contamination as well as union organizers and journalists. Initiated by the newly formed coalition Justice for East Palestine Residents and Workers, the event runs from noon to 5 p.m. at East Palestine Country Club, 50834 Carmel Anchor Road, Negley, OH 44441 (moved from the First Church of Christ).

Has anything changed one year after the derailment in East Palestine?

What Happened with the Rail Deal?

Socialize the Railways!

By Tom Wetzel - East Bay Syndicalists, November 13, 2023

The downward slide of the major (Class 1) American freight railroads in recent years shows how capitalist ownership of the railway system is dangerous and inefficient — and fails to make use of the potential of the railways as a solution to the global warming crisis.

Downward slide has been accelerated over the past decade due to the adoption of “Precision Scheduled Railroading” (PSR). This has no precise definition but the aim is to reduce costs. As in “lean production” management theory, any expense not directly needed for profit is regarded as “waste.” PSR is a cost-cutting strategy that puts short-term profits for stockholders as the controlling priority. To maximize the rate of return, the railroads cut corners on maintenance, constantly work to reduce the number of railroad employees, and actively discourage shipments that are less profitable for them to haul. To keep Wall Street investors happy, they work to maximize short term profit. To enrich stockholders, the rail companies have poured billions of dollars into stock buybacks rather than invest in system improvements.

Rail Privatisation: 30 years of waste and rising fares

By staff - National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), November 5, 2023

As Britain ‘celebrates’ 30 years of rail privatisation, RMT reveals that the three-decade debacle has seen at least £31 billion leak out of the system, mostly into shareholders pockets, while passengers are paying 8% more in real terms to travel on a deteriorating system.

  • Renationalising the railway and creating a single, integrated publicly owned railway company would save around £1.5 billion every year which could be used to cut fares by 18%, helping to encourage more people back onto Britain’s railways.
  • At least £1.5 billion and very likely more leaks out of Britain’s railways every year in the form of profits extracted by train operating companies, rolling stock leasing companies, subcontractors and other costs that arise the fragmentation of the railways.1 Throughout privatisation, the annual outflow of funds would have enabled, on average, a cut of 14% in fares (Table 1.)
  • If the railways were nationalised now and the flow of funds into the private sector was cut off, the money saved would fund a cut of 18% in fares.
  • The cost of travelling by rail is now almost 8% higher in real terms than it was in 1995, before privatisation. This figure has dropped in the last two years only as inflation as risen above 13%. Until the cost-of-living crisis, when fare increases were decoupled from RPI inflation, fares were consistently 15-20% higher in real terms than before privatisation.

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

Putting America Back on Track: The Case for Public Rail Ownership

The Big Strike in Pennsylvania That No One is Talking About

Twenty-Five Thousand Auto Workers Are Now on Strike at the Big 3

By Luis Feliz Leon - Labor Notes, September 29, 2023

Seven thousand Auto Workers at two more assembly plants will walk off the job at noon ET today, UAW President Shawn Fain announced in a Facebook Live appearance this morning. Joining the strike are Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant and General Motors’ Lansing Delta Township Assembly in Michigan.

Fain announced that Stellantis would be spared this time. The union had been expected to expand the strike today at all three companies, but, said Region 1 Director LaShawn English, three minutes before Fain was scheduled to go on Facebook Live, the UAW received frantic emails from company representatives.

According to Fain, Stellantis made “significant progress” on the cost-of-living adjustment, the right not to cross a picket line, and the right to strike over product commitments and plant closures. “We are excited about this momentum at Stellantis and hope it continues,” Fain said.

Fain made clear that negotiations with all three companies are ongoing. “I’m still very hopeful that we can reach a deal that reflects the incredible sacrifices and contributions our members have made over the last decade,” he said to 60,000 viewers on Facebook. “But I also know that what we win at the bargaining table depends on the power we build on the job. It’s time to use that power.”

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