A message from Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa
Funding Amtrak and rail security
The double threat that U.S. workers are facing from cheap labor overseas and greedy executives here at home made headlines recently when the Delphi Corp. - the world's second largest auto parts manufacturer - announced it was filing for bankruptcy on October 8.
Prior to bankruptcy filing, Delphi sought concessions from the UAW, including a wage cut of up to 63 percent and sharp increases in employee-paid health care. The company plans to use bankruptcy laws to close plants and impose lower wages and benefits on workers.
At the same time Delphi was bringing the hammer down on its workers, the company sweetened the severance packages for its top 21 salaried executives. The company had the gall to announce that executives who leave the company will receive 18 months of salary and bonuses instead of the 12 months they previously received.
Once again, U.S. workers are losing their livelihoods on an unfair playing field and face the humiliation of executives lining their pockets on the way out the door.
Recently President Bush signed into legislation a funding package for Amtrak for the 2006 fiscal year. Although this is good news in the short term, it doesn't address the long-term funding packages we have been proposing.
Without a funding package that covers several years, our members on Amtrak, both in the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division, are still vulnerable to threats of cuts from a hostile White House. President Bush and his friends have made it clear that they would prefer to dismantle the Amtrak system - selling off lucrative portions of the Northeast to their friends. We need to keep a vigilant watch on this White House's proposals for Amtrak.
Funding for security measures for rail transportation continues to languish as well. After our publication of our report, "High Alert: Workers Warn of Security Breaches on the Nation's Railroads," there has been renewed interest by lawmakers in rail security, or the lack thereof. However, the Bush White House continues to pour funds into security for the airline industry. To date, the disparity between the funds allocated for rail and port security is acute. Rail security receives four percent of the funds funneled to airlines. Yet, rails account for over five-times as many daily passengers as airlines.
I urge you to contact your congressmen and ask them to demand increased funding for rail security measures and a long-term funding solution for Amtrak.
© 2005 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen