Wednesday, November 16, 2005

More News About Potential Rail Strike

More stories today about a possible strike by unions servicing Amtrak. These are the unions that operate Amtrak's trains, construct and maintain railroad track, buildings and bridges and overhead catenary system along the Northeast Corridor. I saw some of the union guys handing out flyers at 30th Street Station to the morning commuters; they were in front of me at the Dunkin' Donuts line (which is now always hugely long with Bucks County Coffee undergoing renovations). The sites:

Railroad Unions Picket Amtrak's 30th Street Station in Philadelphia; Warn of Potential Rail Strike

Amtrak Warns Of Possible Strike

The unions involved are the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees - these two unions together comprise the Rail Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. From the stories it's not clear when a strike would happen, so I guess it's not imminent? The articles state that there has been "a six-year stalemate in contract negotiations which if not resolved will lead to the shutdown of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. In addition, the two Unions will be protesting the plans of the White House-appointed Amtrak Board of Directors to break up the railroad with so-called reforms that are designed to attack railroad employees' pensions and outsource union jobs."

The proposed break up of the Amtrak NEC has the unions freaked out I imagine. They've gone six years without a contract so the status quo clearly works for these guys. I would say there's little doubt that spinning off the NEC would impact respective unions. With the talk of Fed cuts to Amtrak funding, cutting service to get Amtrak load capacity over 50%, and achieving other efficiencies, one can see how this would translate to job cuts leading to the natural 'strike' reactoin by unions.

This all sucks for those employed by the unions/Amtrak, but of more importance - how does this affect me and my commute? Well, naturally, this potentially would affect me badly. No trains to NYC means not getting to NYC without severe pain.


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