Railroad Workers Threaten to Strike and Call for Public Takeover of the Rails

potential showdown between organized labor and Wall Street looms over the world of freight trains: An influential railroad workers group is urging fellow union members to reject a tentative labor agreement that has prevented an industry-wide strike, and to fight for public ownership of railroads. Negotiations are tense, and the unions are telling members that every vote counts.

While RWU is urging the rank-and-file to fight for a better contract with their employers, the group says the ultimate solution to the problems raised at the negotiating table is a public takeover of the railroads for freight trains.

Ross Grooters, a co-chair of the RWU steering committee and a locomotive engineer out of Iowa, said rail workers are facing off against billion-dollar companies that run one of the most profitable industries in the nation. Rail companies, such as Union Pacific and BNSF Railway, have prioritized profits over their workers, leaving skeleton crews to operate massive and potentially dangerous freight trains.

“The [freight] rail industry is alone as the sole means of conveyance that is held privately. Highways, inland waterways, seaports and airports are all in public hands,” said Paul Lindsey, a RWU member and locomotive engineer, in a statement. “Given the industry’s inability to grow and expand and to adequately meet the needs of shippers, communities, passengers, commuters and workers, it is time that it too become a public entity.”

Truthout Railroad Workers Threaten to Strike and Call for Public Takeover of the Rails