In June 2023, the United Electrical Workers Locals 506 and 618 voted to reject the last and final offer by the Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corporation or (Wabtec) of Erie, Pennsylvania. The unions were denied their basic rights to strike over grievances, and most importantly, over the company’s refusal to move forward with worker-supported environmentally necessary green locomotive production.
This strike may well represent the first instance ever of unionized workers striking to force their employers to make products to protect the climate. That’s historic.
The Labor Network for Sustainability supports the United Electrical Workers in their fight to manufacture more sustainable transportation. The message couldn’t be clearer with the recent wildfires from Canada seeping smoke down into the United States causing dire consequences for those with asthma and other respiratory issues. Their decision to strike represents their decision to prolong life on our planet by making lower emission locomotives to carry freight across this great country. Their decision also upholds the livelihood of many communities that these railroads run through that face negative effects from the current engines.
The railroad industry is still behind with making the necessary steps in maximizing their efficiency with their right-of-way including: electrifying the last-mile of their urban rail yards, sharing their tracks with electrified inter and intra city transit, and upgrading their locomotives to non-pollutant green locomotives, ones touted by the UE workers in Erie. California is another battleground with pending lawsuits over green locomotive rules, where progressive transportation equipment is threatened from seeing the light of day.
The Labor Network for Sustainability will continue to support those that uphold greener technologies from the manufacturing process to the implementation of transporting people and products. The battle will not stop until our union brothers and sisters win what they, and what the public, deserves.