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U.S. Senate must act to stop Amtrak furloughs

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, September 3 — BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce is urging BLET members to contact their United States Senators and ask them to adequately fund Amtrak — provided that the railroad maintain full daily services to prevent nearly 2,000 job cuts. Amtrak announced massive furloughs on September 1, which would negatively impact approximately 400 members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, and close to 2,000 employees system wide.

Earlier this summer, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Moving Forward Act, which would have tripled Amtrak funding to nearly $29 billion. It conditioned the extra funding on Amtrak maintaining service levels no lower than 2019, and bars furloughs.. However, U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has used various political maneuvers to prevent the Moving Forward Act from being address in the Senate.

Pete DeFazio (D-OR), Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, said in a September 2 press release: “It’s time for Republicans in the Senate to stop sitting on these important bills and do their job to protect Amtrak employees and so many others currently in need.”

In an effort to prevent these furloughs, members of the BLET and their families are being asked to contact their U.S. Senators to urge them to take up a companion bill to the Moving Forward Act that provides Amtrak with adequate funding — and which would include a mandate that the railroad return to daily service to prevent furloughs.

Please contact your Senators immediately and ask them to approve Amtrak funding so that service cuts and job cuts to America’s passenger rail system can be avoided. If you are unaware of who your Senators are, a list can be found here.

It is unlikely that you will talk directly with your Senators, so ask to speak to the staff member who handles transportation issues. When speaking to staff, please be respectful just as if you were personally speaking to the Senator.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

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