Congress Must Respect Rail Workers’ Rights

November 30, 2022

The current move by President Biden and Congress to impose a contract on our nation’s 115,000 railroad workers — a contract that the members of rail unions representing the majority of those workers have rejected — is an unconscionable attack on rail workers, the labor movement, and the entire U.S. working class.

The right to strike is a fundamental human right, and one of the only effective tools working people have to win justice from the corporations and capitalist oligarchs who increasingly seek to control not only our economy and our government, but every aspect of our lives.

Railroad workers are fighting for a basic human freedom — the right to stay home or see a doctor if they or their family members get sick.

The railroad companies are enormously profitable, and have seen their profits only increase during the pandemic. They can easily afford to settle a fair contract.

In addition to forcing their workers into conditions that approach involuntary servitude, the railroad companies’ endless thirst for profits has snarled up our country’s supply chain, contributing to the inflation and cost-of-living crisis that all working people are facing. Their old, polluting locomotives, which they refuse to upgrade to modern, cleaner versions, are poisoning communities near rail yards, which are primarily working-class communities of color. And they consistently oppose efforts to address climate change, putting their short-term profits above the long-term health of society, or even their own industry.

Instead of using government edicts to force railroad workers to work against their will, the President and Congress should be using the power of government to push the railroad companies to straighten out the supply chain, clean up their poor environmental record, and settle a fair contract through the collective bargaining process.

We stand in full solidarity with railroad workers and their unions, in whatever steps they take to defend their right to a decent work life, and urge all working people to do the same.

Carl Rosen
General President

Andrew Dinkelakr

Mark Meinster
​Director of Organization