Labor Day 2014:
Railroad Workers are on the Move!
Dear Railroad Sisters & Brothers:
Whether you are off work or on the job on Monday, please take the time to honor, remember and celebrate Labor Day. This is our day!
So much of what we workers take for granted today -- overtime pay, holiday pay, vacations, sick leave, workers’ comp and FELA, railroad retirement, safer working conditions, the basic 8-hour day, seniority and more – only came about because workers came together, organized and fought for these things collectively. If it were not for our solidarity, we would have none of the above, and there certainly would be no such thing as Labor Day itself.
But Labor Day has mostly become a day for picnics and barbeques, political stumping and speech making, posturing and "remembering" our heritage.
But what if we were to put some life into Labor Day?
What if we were to take joint actions with our allies who understand that single employee crews are a danger to all? What if we were to show the corporations, their politicians and union leaders that we are not simply going to "honor and remember" on Labor Day? What if we were to show our power, and picket, demonstrate, strike and occupy?
The last few weeks have witnessed the awakening of rail labor.
In response to the suicidal tentative agreement on the BNSF, railroaders have mobilized like we haven’t in years. Many have found their voice, and have expressed themselves loud and clear that they will not accept single employee operations of trains. Engineers and trainmen – together with other crafts – have come together and staged raucous meetings, pickets, rallies and demonstrations all designed to defeat the tentative agreement that would open the door to single employee train operations.
Given the breadth and scope of this extraordinary fight back movement, we expect the BNSF tentative agreement to be soundly defeated. But whether it is adopted or rejected, the cat is out of the bag. The cards are now squarely on the table. The Class I rail carriers have made clear their desire and intent to run road trains with a single employee … and our unions have shown themselves to be hopelessly divided and ill-equipped to wage the battle necessary to defend our safety and our jobs.
So while we rank and file workers continue to fight with everything we have to defeat this attack, we understand that this fight is simply but one battle in the war. Once the votes are counted – win or lose – railroad workers must go on the offensive. We are under a vicious attack brothers and sisters! We can no longer hide our heads in the sand and pretend that everything will be OK.
So let’s stop crying and whining about our jobs. Let’s no longer sit on our hands and hopelessly wait for some politician, government agency or union official to solve our problems for us. Let’s take the bull by the horns, speak out and act together, make our demands known, and let our power be realized. If we are to defeat the single employee crew initiative, it is going to be us – the rank and file railroad workers – who do it.
On this Labor Day, you will see lots of American flags flying. You will hear lots of politicians bucking for your vote. And you will see lots of hot dogs frying on the grill. But please remember, all this has little to do with the true spirit of Labor Day. This day is really about working people and our struggle – through strikes, boycotts, picket lines, sit-ins, occupations and more – to further the cause of rank-and-file workers. RWU is proud to be part of that great tradition of working people fighting back against corporate power. We invite you to join us in the fight. The future is now.
RWU General Secretary