Working conditions for railroad workers in this country have deteriorated as freight railroads, while making record-breaking profits for their shareholders, continue to cut costs. Many observers say we are at a crisis point for US freight rail.
When contract talks between railroads and rail unions on wages and working conditions stalled this summer, President Biden convened a presidential emergency board (PEB) that issued a recommended settlement in mid-August, then later revised it to answer some of the Union’s concerns. While the leadership of the rail unions recommend that membership vote in favor of the revised proposal, there is still a chance that membership will vote against ratification.
Nevada Rail Coalition leaders, many of them Union members/leaders, are actively engaged in the current labor action against the country’s freight rail corporations. Here is Ron Kaminkow, co-chair of the NRC steering committee, quoted in The Guardian on why rail workers have had enough:
“Kaminkow said many railroad workers don’t have any paid time off at all, with the PEB recommending just one added day of paid time off. Workers are currently on call consistently throughout the year, making a life-work balance near impossible and contributing to fatigue issues, illnesses, job safety and discontent among the workforce.
‘It’s our speculation that if this contract is approved and the PEB recommendations form the basis for a tentative agreement, and this is what we end up with, you will probably see thousands of workers in train engine service who will wait to get the best paid lump sum settlement and then they’ll quit. So it doesn’t solve any of the problems that the industry is facing,’ Kaminkow added. “I’ve worked in the industry 26 years, and it’s – I never thought I’d see it like this.’”