Thursday, September 15, 2022
This came across my news feed about the possibly impending train workers strike. I have not had time to research all of what this man states, but I can tell you that I can empathize with the responsibility of holding down a shift by myself, unable to take time off for a doctor's appointment (working understaffed retail,) and also understand being away from home for extended periods of time (working as a touring musician.)
I will leave further research to the trained journalists. I know some of you are still out there. Consider this a call to service.
"The class 1 railroads have started restricting shipments. They’re trying to force the workers to accept a subpar contract, we’ve been without a raise for 3 years, by shutting down the economy. They’ll blame us, the workers, yet our unions are still at the table willing to negotiate. The carriers have said they will not negotiate. We are asking for only a little time off for doctor appointments and a few additional paid days off. Currently I am allowed 28 days off a year. Those 28 days are by approval only. The carriers can take them from us and buy them out. I do not have weekends. Holliday’s do not exist. If I need a day off and the company says no, I’m heavily punished. 3 days off in a 90 day window is grounds for termination. The average 5 day a week worker has 104 days a year off. That’s before Holliday or vacation days. While 3 call ins in a 90 day period should be punished, we have zero days in that 90 day window off. The carriers claim that labor, employees, do not contribute to profits. They also claim we do not share in the risk. In the past 2 months we have lost 4 brothers. Fatality sounds like a share in the risk to me. There’s claims that we work only 34.3 hours a week. In august I logged well over 200 hours on duty and nearly 80 in a hotel room. While waiting in the hotel is not working, it’s also not time at home to complete tasks or see the doctors or dentist. What little we do have at home is spent sleeping and preparing for the next run. I do wonder what those who think so little of us would expect to be paid if they were forced away from home for 250-300 hours a month. I understand it’s a choice and no one is forcing me to do this job. I’m willing to make the sacrifice. I’m just asking for a fair contract that reflects the sacrifice we give to keep the economy flowing. On Friday at 0001 hours we are legally able to strike. The class 1 railroads are stopping shipments now to show you how devistating this will be at no cost to them. If we do strike it will cost them heavily in lost business. Trash media is claiming we will lose business, that won’t return, if we go on strike to scare us into submission. Yet these carriers are stopping those shipments now. I’m not asking for any simpathy. I just want you, the general public, to know what’s actually happening." Gerry Stephan