Are railroads to blame for the rail strike threat?
Just doing a review of the potential strike being by railroad workers. To sum up the issue(s), proposed wage increases barely keep up with inflation, health care premiums nearly doubling, and a lack of paid sick days in the agreement. It doesn’t sound like that much of a big deal. More in a bit.
In recent years, railroads reduced the workforce by 30%. Or, a smaller workforce is moving more freight. Smaller workforce results in less Overhead and producing stunning profits for railroads over the last five or six years. This is playing into working Labor overtime to accomplish their assigned tasks. As one union mechanic stated,
“He is routinely working 14-hour days on a team tasked with replacing sections of rail.”
Labor cost is smaller than the cost of Overhead associated with Labor. And this is the fly in the ointment of a new Labor agreement. The Union workers are asking for paid sick days beyond the one day offered in September. They are also asking for greater flexibility in scheduling so as to be able to use their days off.
And people will say they already get time off and were granted more.
“Employees say the inflexibility of scheduling upends their personal lives.”
Rail employees can take days off for any reason, but those days are generally unpaid and workers might be docked under the railroad’s attendance rules. If you miss days on more than two occasions, you can be terminated.
Much of the issue lies with the policy of being on call any time with no time off. For example:
Warren Buffett’s BNSF’s old system required workers to be on call 75% of the time; a new policy implemented in January required them to be on call 90% of the time. BNSF lost a number of employees before revoking the new policy. For Conductors and Engineers, there is very little flexibility over a 30-day period.
BNSF reported $6 billion in profit last year and another $4.5 billion through Sept. 30 this year.
If there is little seniority, your days off for a vacation or otherwise can be canceled. If you take unscheduled days off, after two times you are terminated. Much of this is due to a lack of Labor resulting from company directives to Labor reduction.
The goal of the railroads was fewer workers which resulted in less Overhead which also resulted in less flexibility. Common on a factory shop floor too.
“Greedy railroads are to blame for rail strike threat. Why should Congress help them?” fltimes.com, Michael Hiltzik
“Rail workers could strike before Christmas. Here’s the latest on the talks,” NPR, Andrea Hsu
“Biden says Congress must avert rail strike but it’s ‘not an easy call’; workers ‘disappointed,'” ABC News, Authors
The absence of an equitable mandatory binding arbitration process for union contracts is to blame for all threats of strike. Another approach that works is to go Dutch, cooperative planning among government, business, and labor at the highest level.
How does a Democratic Administration come down against sick leave in a contract negotiation?
Indeed. It’s an obscenity and an unbelievable betrayal.
It appears Pelosi is going to offer up another bill for that issue. Both would still have to get past the Senate. They do get time off. It is being allowed to take it is the issue.
I just hope this does not become another Reagan/Air Traffic Controllers event. We’re in this position because people cheered on Reagan.
As I’ve noted here in postings, most people do not understand that they are not capitalists. They are labor. Not knowing the difference leads them to support policy and actions that do not help.
Bernie Sanders posted that the sick time would cost the industry $325 million/year. They spent $25.5 billion last year in stock buy backs.
Somehow the citizenry needs to come to understand the pain that needs to be endured if they want to return to a more equitable society/economy. Unfortunately, the Republicans/money have been very successful in drugging the populace such that they do not realize the pain they are presently living.
I think the rail strike would be good for the nation if only people would be willing. It could be a key action that moves the nation in a more equitable position in a bigger step than voting.
I just don’t think the nation has been prepared by the Dem’s to take the action. I mean, where are the words of war that we use with other issues when the parties want to mobilize the nation in a particular direction?
According to Sanders, that $325 million that the proposed sick leave would cost is equal to two percent of the railways’ profits — not even of their gross revenues, but their profits. They want to deny their workers a basic benefit which any civilized society would consider the bare minimum for the sake of two percent of their profits.
To be clear, nobody is arguing that Congress should just allow a strike to cripple the economy. What Sanders and his allies are saying is that if Congress is going to impose a settlement, it should include the paid sick time the workers are demanding.
As things stand, under pressure from progressives, Pelosi will hold a separate vote to add the paid sick leave requirement to the legislation to prevent the strike. It’s expected to pass the House. The Senate is more iffy because of the filibuster, but it may be doable — several Republican senators support adding the sick leave.
Democrats need to fight like hell to get this addition done. There’s never going to be a more defining moment.
The Dems should propose a regulation and/or legislation mandating that “call time”, the time an employee must be available for work on call, must be paid for with a minimum wage. There are lots of people out there on call at all times, and it means that such time is NOT time off.
That is one of their biggest beefs. If on call and they miss it, they are penalized. If they miss another in a shorter period of time, they can be penalized. The third time they are terminated. Railroads have reduced the workforce so much they have few stadins.