Railroad Workers Memorial Day is Friday, June 13th
Railroad Workers United will observe Railroad Workers Memorial Day once again this Fathers’ Day Friday, June 13th, 2014. This will be the sixth year that we have observed a day in honor of all fellow railroad workers killed on the job. The initial inspiration for Railroad Workers Memorial Day came when Jared Boehlke, a young conductor, was killed on Mothers’ Day, 2009 while working a single employee RCO job in the bowl in Selkirk, NY. RWU called for a day of remembrance and action for that Fathers’ Day Friday a month later. Since then, we have called on railroad workers and their allies to wear black shirts every year on this date as a way to not just remember and honor those killed on the job, but to take action in support of better safety measures to prevent such tragedies.
Each year we have tended to focus on a specific incident, issue, or rail property. At the RWU Convention in Chicago, those present tentatively agreed to focus on Metro North, the New York based commuter railroad with a horrendous safety record. In the last twelve months Metro North has suffered a series of train wrecks and track worker fatalities. In the wake of a wreck that killed four passengers and injured dozens more, the FRA has cited the railroad as having a “deficient safety culture”. Federal inspectors found more than 7,000 defects and deficiencies within the Metro North Railroad system over ten years. Among the problems revealed in the report were track inspections that found broken or cracked joint bars, loose rail braces and missing bolts. FRA inspections found five times as many issues per 100 miles of track as similar inspections on other commuter railroads!
For a railroad long considered the “gold standard” for the region’s commuter systems, the recent debacle on MN has now revealed that the railroad in fact has lacked safety features that had been in place on some other railroads for decades. Apparently, glaring safety issues had gone unnoticed and unreported for years, a powder keg waiting to explode, as it did in 2014. Without a safety program designed to recognize and
eliminate hazards, rather than simply focus on worker behavior, any railroad is a disaster waiting to happen.
To assist with Railroad Workers Memorial Day actions, please contact RWU at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 206-984-3051. We have posters and stickers, and can provide you with a union-made-in-the-USA black RWU T-shirt to wear on Fathers Day Friday.