Rail workers take Amtrak message to commuters

In mid-November, commuters traveling through Penn Station in Newark were greeted by rail workers warning of a possible Amtrak shutdown in their future. Locomotive engineers and maintenance of way workers who are represented by the Teamsters Rail Conference passed out leaflets to thousands of commuters using Amtrak.

It was one of a string of informational pickets conducted by the Rail Conference, which educated commuters in other cities such as Boston.

"Many of the commuters were surprised to hear that Amtrak service might stop," said Kevin Hussey, a member of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes (BMWED). "The Amtrak board won't negotiate with us so a service shutdown may be our only option."

"We want every rail commuter to call Congress and ask them to tell the Amtrak board of directors to bargain fairly with the rail unions," said Fred Simpson, president of the BMWED.

With thousands of commuters passing through the Newark station daily, rail workers passed out nearly all of their fliers and spoke to many commuters. "I bet the switchboard at the U.S. Capitol is going to be busy today," said Mark Kenny, General Chairman of the BLET's Amtrak General Committee of Adjustment. "But we have to use every available opportunity to get some movement on this issue."

This year the Amtrak board of directors continued its stall tactics on union bargaining. In addition, the Amtrak board announced its intention to cut apart Amtrak, leaving the eastern corridor intact, but requiring local governments to foot the bills for local service.

The Teamsters Rail Conference represents more than 70,000 rail workers nationwide, including the memberships of the BMWED and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET).


© 2005 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen