The rail freight carriers that employ approximately 125,000 unionized employees have spent years prioritizing shareholders and executives, making record profits for the railroad industry. At the same time, the carriers have downsized the rail workforce by furloughing approximately 30% of rail workers, increasing the workload for those who remain. Workers do not receive paid sick time and are expected to be available to work any time of day or night at short notice. On top of this, workers have received a 0% pay increase over the last three years.
The Biden administration brokered a tentative agreement that excluded a substantial amount of the unions’ demands. In a vote of the rail union membership, over half the rail workforce and four of the 12 unions representing those employees voted down this proposal. If there is a strike by the rail workers, any damaging effect on the economy will have been caused by the greed and intransigence of the rail companies, and the failure of Congress and the Biden administration to broker a decent agreement that addresses the workers’ demands.
Boston DSA fully and adamantly supports the democratic right of the rail union workers to vote down any proposed agreement, including the tentative agreement brokered by the Biden administration. Boston DSA opposes any legislation that would impose terms and conditions of employment on the rail unions and thereby take away the workers’ right to strike. The National DSA has also recognized the rail workers right to strike and has put out a statement in support of the rail workers, and Boston DSA concurs with the statement issued by the National DSA.
Most importantly, if and when Congress and President Biden enact legislation taking away the right to strike by the railway workers, Boston DSA will support the actions of the rail workers, including any decision to strike. Boston DSA will be there to support the workers, including joining them on the picket lines. Solidarity now, solidarity forever.