Rail Passengers Statement On Tentative Rail Labor Deal
September 15, 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (22-15)
Contact: Madison Butler, [email protected]
September 15, 2022
RAIL PASSENGERS ASSOCIATION STATEMENT ON TENTATIVE RAIL LABOR DEAL
WASHINGTON – The Rail Passengers Association this morning welcomed the White House announcement of a tentative rail agreement and concessions from the Class I railroads around work rules and time-off policies. We now hope that agreement will be enough to settle this long-running dispute and avoid a debilitating shutdown of our nation’s vital rail transportation system.
“We’re awaiting the full details of the work-rule changes the Class Is’ representatives agreed to but based on the White House’s announcement we’re hopeful that the concession addresses labor’s simple and humane request for a reasonable time-off policy,” said Rail Passengers Association President and CEO Jim Mathews. “The grievances are real and serious, but at the same time a rail strike would be devastating to regular Americans who rely on trains to get to work, school, and home, as well as to buy everyday ordinary necessities. And if it turns out that those concessions don’t go far enough, we urge everyone involved to keep working on a solution on behalf of the entire country.”
Rail Passengers also applauded everyone involved in these difficult negotiations for working in good faith to avoid a shutdown and the need for Congress to step in and force a deal.
“It was clear that the Biden Administration took this seriously, with not only the President getting personally involved, but Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack also working the issue with the principals of the railroads and organized labor,” Mathews said, adding that Biden reportedly personally engaged with railroad management over the work-rules issue. The Association was also glad to see Amtrak work proactively to minimize the disruption and expense to paying passengers, offering full refunds while cancelling trains at risk of stranding passengers.
“As the Association of American Railroads stated last week, freight railroads own ‘nearly 97% of the tracks on Amtrak’s nearly 22,000-mile system.’ If negotiations fail, America’s passenger trains will cease operations outside the Northeast Corridor,” Association CEO Mathews noted. “The U.S. rail network is too important to America’s citizens to allow for an extended shutdown of the system, and all of us who rely on rail – passenger and freight – hope this agreement ushers in a new posture of good-faith negotiations over difficult issues.”
About Rail Passengers Association
The Rail Passengers Association is the oldest and largest national organization serving as a voice for the more than 40 million rail passengers in the U.S. Our mission is to improve and expand conventional intercity and regional passenger train services, support higher speed rail initiatives, increase connectivity among all forms of transportation and ensure safety for our country's trains and passengers. All of this makes communities safer, more accessible, and more productive, improving the lives of everyone who lives, works and plays in towns all across America.
"It is an honor to be recognized by the Rail Passengers Association for my efforts to strengthen and expand America’s passenger rail. Golden spikes were once used by railroads to mark the completion of important rail projects, so I am truly grateful to receive the Golden Spike Award as a way to mark the end of a career that I’ve spent fighting to invest in our country’s rail system. As Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, it has been my priority to bolster funding for Amtrak, increase and expand routes, look to the future by supporting high-speed projects, and improve safety, culminating in $66 billion in new funding in the Bipartisan infrastructure Law."
Representative Peter DeFazio (OR-04)
March 30, 2022, on receiving the Association's Golden Spike Award for his years of dedication and commitment to passenger rail.