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Ohio train derailment reveals urgent need for reform, workers say | US News

cormorantA railroad worker from Company S says it was a train derailment. OhioThousands of residents have been displaced, and now a toxic plume of carcinogenic chemicals is spreading across the region, a “glamorous” revelation for Congress, “how the railroad will It should serve as an example of how it is run and how it gets away with “a lot of things.”

Labor and union officials cited the Norfolk Southern Railway Derailment As a clear example of why safety reforms to the industry are needed, including giving workers paid sick leave, in early February

38 train cars derailed 11 vehicles carrying hazardous materials triggered an evacuation order, controlled release of chemicals, and threatened exposure of residents, wildlife and waterways to hazardous chemicals in an eastern Palestinian town near the Pennsylvania border. of cars were included.

Unions and railroad companies have been at odds for years over new contracts that address what workers call poor working conditions and provide paid sick leave. grueling schedule Caused by staff reductions.

“Without changing working conditions, better scheduling, more vacations and a better work-life balance, railroads are going to suffer. railway workers united, an Amtrak engineer in Reno, Nevada, and vice president of Local 51, the Brotherhood of Engineers and Railroadmen (Blet). Corners are cut and safety is compromised. ”

Greg Regan, president of the AFL-CIO’s transportation trade division, said: Said The loss of workers in recent years has coincided with record profits for the railroad companies, driving the worsening situation for U.S. railroads.

The workforce of the railway industry, which was over 1 million workers in the 1950s, has plummeted to less than 150,000 workers in 2022, and 40,000 workers will join the railway industry between November 2018 and December 2020. Employment lost. day to day report It made more than $22 billion in earnings and spent more than $20 billion on share buybacks and shareholder dividends last year.

Reagan said the derailment in Ohio is one example of why these working conditions issues need to be addressed.

“In a very dangerous industry, the risks are greatly increased. When things go wrong, the consequences can be very tragic,” added Regan.

Companies also oppose reforms to enforce compulsory participation in anonymity. Hiyari-Hatto reporting system This will allow workers to report safety concerns without fear of reprisal and identify problems before they lead to accidents, said Leo McCann, director of rail labor at the Transportation and Trade Division. I’m here.

Regarding the derailment in Ohio, McCann said: “This shows how the railroad operates and how it avoids a lot.”

Worker criticized A decision by Congress and the Biden administration to impose interim new contractual agreements on all railroad unions. However, more than half of the delegates voted against it, citing the lack of paid sick leave.

The majority of workers in the Accurate Rail Scheduling System (an operational system focused on cost reduction) currently do not take paid sick leave and are facing attendance points to take leave, It can lead to dismissal.

Workers complain that disciplinary attendance policies, combined with drastic cutbacks, reduce morale, encourage workers to overcome illness and fatigue to continue working, and pose increased safety risks. .

On February 2, all 12 railway unions issued A resolution requiring paid sick leave for railroad workers. Bernie Sanders and Republican Senator Mike Brown Press conference He met with trade union representatives on February 9 and called for more pressure on companies to give workers at least seven days of paid sick leave.

Updated push coming soon after CSX Transportation announced Provide all workers with four days of paid sick leave, with two unions representing 5,000 rail workers, and allow workers to use up to three days of personal leave for sick leave. agreed.

“The next step is to bring the other railroad companies to the table and hopefully work things out,” Regan said. “This is the worst relationship between railroads and their workers in my career.” .

“When you treat your employees like that and try to squeeze as much pennies out of each individual employee as possible, you end up having a very contentious negotiating session with absolutely no regard for employee well-being. We had it last year,” he said.

“Railway companies really don’t want to participate. It’s about doing what we can and making sure that tragedy doesn’t happen,” McCann added.

“Railway companies are more concerned with profitability and are increasing their return on investment and reducing numbers to keep Wall Street happy. I live behind this shield hoping nothing happens.” .”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/feb/20/ohio-derailment-train-rail-workers Ohio train derailment reveals urgent need for reform, workers say | US News

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