There is a through-line between the denial of sick days to railroad workers and residents of East Palestine fleeing their homes in the aftermath of a derailed freight train poisoning their town. The through-line is the rail industry’s drive for profit costing workers and communities their health and safety. The through-line is workers sounding the alarm, to no avail.
For decades, the railroad industry has been increasing profits by raising prices and cutting labor costs, resulting in degraded safety standards and short-staffing. This, and the pursuit of short-term profit, are at the heart of why 45,000 rail workers have lost their jobs since 2015, why rail industry lobbyists have spent millions to undermine safety regulations, why the industry has delayed the electrification of railroads, and why a “100% preventable” rail disaster in East Palestine has caused residents to flee, animals to die, and at least 1.1 million gallons of water and 15,000 pounds of soil to become contaminated. To those who own the railroads, all of this has been a great success: CEOs at five of the largest railroad conglomerates have made $200 million over the last 3 years. After all, the point of private industry is profit.
Private interests must be prevented from dictating the future of rail– critical infrastructure that serves as a backbone for the economy, communities, and a climate-safe future. To that end, the Labor Network for Sustainability supports Railroad Workers United’s demand to nationalize the railroads.
Alongside necessary public investments, public ownership of rail will allow us to transform our rail system into one that truly serves the common good. Untethered from the market, we can electrify and expand rail, institute fairer working conditions, and engage communities throughout the process so that equity, sustainability, and justice are at the forefront.
The latest Synthesis Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) clearly stated that the choices we make in the next decade will impact us now and for the next thousand years. Now is the time for bold decisions. Without public and democratic ownership of rail, many of those crucial decisions will not be made by us– they will be made by a wealthy few.
To our partners and allies who value democracy, workers rights, and climate justice– join us in demanding that rail becomes a public good!
For more information, visit RWU’s website about the rail nationalization campaign: www.railroadworkersunited.org/public-ownership-of-the-railroads