This Is the Place for All North American Rail Workers!

Welcome to Railroad Workers United! 

North American railroad workers are divided into different unions based on their craft of work and on some short lines, workers are not unionized at all. In the US alone there are thirteen unions representing railroad workers with several more unions in Canada. 

We feel that history has shown that as long as we remain so divided we cannot  effectively fight for our jobs and job conditions . So we have formed this inter-union, cross-craft, solidarity "caucus" of railroad workers from all crafts, all carriers, and all unions across North America.

We say every railroad worker should be actively involved in his/her union AND belong to RWU in order to build the strength and solidarity to protect our lives and jobs.

Please take the time to look over the site and look at our flyers and other literature. Read over the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Please read our "Statement of Principles".

You can help and play an important part in making a difference. Together, we can build unity, democracy, and solidarity among ALL railroaders in North America. Please join us!

Click Here to Read This Issue of the Highball.

Dear RWU Members and Supporters:

Below is a link to an open letter to SMART GO-001 General Chairman Randall Knutson. Please look it over and forward to your contacts. It is a pdf of the letter on RWU letterhead . Feel free to make copies and post.

An Open Letter to SMART-TD GO-001

Dear Mr. Knutson:

 The Steering Committee of Railroad Workers United (RWU) strongly urges that the officials of SMART-TD GO-001 immediately release the vote totals of the recent ratification vote for the Tentative Agreements on BNSF. To withhold this information from the members any longer is a travesty of democracy, and a slap in the face to every railroad worker in North America, especially to those working for the BNSF and particularly to those members of SMART-GO-001 who cast their ballot and have a right to know the outcome of the vote, regardless of which way they may have voted.

 In an email to the local chairmen of your GCA it was announced by your office on September 10th, 2014 that the TAs were voted down. Yet, here we are, two weeks later and you have seen fit to withhold the actual vote totals from the membership (and everyone else). Why? Anyone can understand that there might be challenged ballots, spoiled ballots and other reasons why a final count cannot be stated immediately. But surely there is a tentative count, one that was definitive enough that your office was able to state unequivocally that “…we have completed the tabulation of ratification ballots for the tentative Crew Consist Agreement and Wage & Rule Settlement, and neither agreement was ratified.” So the preliminary numbers do exist. Why can’t the membership know what they are?

 You go on to state that, “a more complete summary of the vote will be forthcoming in the next several weeks but we felt it was important to provide you and our members with immediate notification that these agreements were not ratified.” Thank you. But your words suggest that there was a “less complete summary” made available. However, that is not the case. Other than informing the membership that the TAs were voted down, your office has not provided any kind of information, summary or otherwise.

 Can you imagine the outcry there would be if in say, a mayoral race, the election commission announced the winning candidate … but then failed to provide a vote count? We can see no reason why these figures have not been released. Whether they be preliminary or final, the members have a right to know. For your office to withhold them any longer will simply cast further doubt upon the integrity and honesty of SMART-TD GO-001.

Sincerely yours,

 Railroad Workers United

Dear RWU Members & Supporters:

The SMART GCA of the BNSF has finally released the numbers!! Please see the official numbers below. The proposal to run trains with a single employee was completely blown out of the water by the rank and file of the BNSF!

Combined totals from all the crafts voting were as follows:

Against: 3056

For: 623

It was voted down nearly 5-to-1. This is truly historic! All of our efforts the past 10 years have paid off.


Click here for the letter from GO-001 for the complete breakdown of numbers.





Railroad Workers United (RWU) is a caucus of rank-and-file railroaders in North America that has campaigned against the implementation of single-employee train crews since the organization was founded in 2008. The 24-hour, safety-sensitive nature of railroad operations makes single-employee train crews a potential danger to the environment, to railroad workers and the general public. The recently announced tentative agreement between BNSF Railway and the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Union (SMART) would implement engineer-only operation of mainline freight trains on portions of the BNSF railway system.


In the aftermath of recent rail disasters in North America, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has demanded wide-ranging changes in safety measures for trains carrying hazardous shipments. The FRA has also recommended that a minimum crew size of two persons is essential for safe operation of through freight trains. Following the announcement of the tentative agreement between SMART GO-001 and BNSF Railway, SMART-TD President John Previsich reiterated that it is the official position of the union’s leadership that safe operation of trains requires a minimum of a two-person crew. RWU agrees with both of these recommendations and urges all BNSF employees who would be affected by this agreement to vote ‘No’!


This tentative agreement would create a new position of “master conductor,” who would be notified when a train is stopped and requires assistance. In these cases the master conductor would drive to the train and perform the normal duties of a conductor on the ground. But unlike the current conductor, the master conductor would no longer be on board the train to oversee operation of the train along with the engineer from the cab of the locomotive when the train resumes its trip.  Master conductors would no longer perform what is currently the primary responsibility of a conductor - supervising the safe operation and administration of the train. Without an on-board conductor, there is no one to assist the engineer to observe wayside signals and to watch other trains for defects, no one to remind him/her of impending speed restrictions or other hazards ahead, no one to keep him/her focused and alert. And the inability of a traveling “master conductor” to arrive on scene in a timely fashion in the case of an emergency presents a serious threat to the safety of the engineer, emergency response personnel, and the public in the event of a derailment, grade-crossing accident, or other emergency.


For years the railroad carriers have been trying to implement single-employee train crews to cut labor costs with total disregard for the safety of its employees and the communities that are affected by railroad operations. RWU strongly urges railroad workers to stand strong against BNSF Railway’s efforts to undermine the safety of its operations in the interest of cutting costs at a time when the company -- under the ownership of Berkshire Hathaway -- is enjoying all-time record profits generated by the hard work and dedication of its workforce. This tentative agreement is an attack on the safety of our workplace and our communities -- RWU urges all effected BNSF employees to vote ‘NO!

What you Can do in the Fight Against Single Employee Crews on BNSF


Vote “NO!”: 12 Ways to Help


Resolution in Opposition to Single Employee Crews CLICK HERE

This form is set up so you can use your Local/Division letterhead..








Intelligent union

What’s Wrong with Single Employee Train Operations?

By Ron Kaminkow
General Secretary, Railroad Workers United


At first glance, the casual observer from outside of the rail industry is prone to say that single employee train operation sounds dangerous. “What if the engineer has a heart attack?” is an often heard question. And while this question has merit, there are many other and far more complex and unanswered questions about just how single employee train operations could be accomplished safely and efficiently for the train crew, the railroad and the general public. How will the train make a back-up move? What happens when the train hits a vehicle or pedestrian? How will the train crew member deal with “bad-order” equipment in his/her train, or make pick-ups and set-outs en route? What about job briefings and calling signals, copying mandatory directives and reminders of slow orders? These are just some questions that we take up in this article. Read More...

Railroad Workers United
4th Biennial Convention
Chicago, Illinois

April 3rd & 4th, 2014

RWU 4th Biennial Convention Highlights


Before presenting the highlights of the RWU 4th biennial Convention, held in Chicago, Illinois April 3rd & 4th, it is worth mentioning what did NOT happen at this Convention.

  • There were no golf tournaments.

  • No presentations by government bureaucrats.

  • There were no speeches by politicians.

  • Self-congratulatory idolatry was absent from the floor.

  • There was no schmoozing, no perks, no privileges (except one: the right to fully participate in the organization)

    Very little time was devoted to bylaws amendments or procedural questions. That stuff is not what will rebuild rail labor power and win better contracts, including better wages, benefits and working conditions.

    But a lot of time was spent on discussions. Topics included:

    1 -- Building solidarity between the railroad workers of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico;

    2 -- Involving more members of the non-operating crafts in the work of RWU;

    3 -- The “global supply chain” and how rail workers are a vital link in the distribution of goods across the continent.

    4 -- Why union railroad workers must work to organize the contract sector;

    5 -- The scourge of “behavior based safety” programs and what RWU is doing to eliminate them from the rail industry;

    6 -- The OSHA whistleblower law and what RWU can do to put some teeth into the fight for whistleblower protection;

    7 -- The struggle of Renzenberger crew van drivers and others to organize into the union and how rails can assist in this vital effort;

    8 -- How international railroad workers solidarity works, and how the group Rails without Borders is making this happen;

    9 -- The French union SUD Rail organizes all railroad workers into a single organization. They have a similar perspective and strategy to RWU;

    10 -- The need to build local Chapters of RWU and how we must go about the business of doing this;

    11 -- Discrimination and harassment has no place on the railroad and must be confronted in order to build solidarity

    12 -- How to build RWU campaigns -- against single employee crews; in opposition to behavior based safety; in support of coordinated bargaining, and against long and heavy trains and more.

    Upon adjournment, RWU hosted a well-attended reception, where we heard music from our own J.P. Wright. Through merchandise sales and a raffle of donated railroad items, we were able to raise money to assist in paying for the cost of the Convention.


The entire Convention was videotaped, and RWU plans to produce a 45 minute summary edition, to be released sometime in the coming months so all members and supporters can get an idea of the proceedings.

Railroad Workers United Convention 2014

NEW Fatigue Monitoring Form/Bad Lineups

Click on the link above to take you to our page to fill out this all so important form and to get more information, it is a valuable tool in our box that can save many lives down the road....


Check out the RWU newsletter The Highball

Each quarter, The Highball brings you news and commentary from Railroad Workers United, focusing on the issues that matter to railroad workers across North America.

You can download the current issue of The Highball here.

Click HERE  to send us an email if you would like to help distribute The Highball in your work terminal and/or across your division

Get the current issue of RWU's newsletter, The Highball.

Get the current issue of RWU's newsletter, The Highball.

RWU Initiates Program to Honor and Remember Fallen Rails

The fractured nature of rail labor has led RWU to initiate a program to honor each and every railroad worker killed on the job, regardless of what craft and what union (if any) the worker was a member of. “When a brother or sister is killed in the line of duty, it is the concern of all of us, whatever position we currently hold on the property,” points out Robert Hull of the RWU “Fallen Rails Committee”.  Read more...

RWU announced a Campaign Against Single Employee Train Crews”.

"The advent of new technology together with a decline in union power, coupled with the rail carriers’ arrogant disregard for worker and public safety has seen the standard five-person train crew drop first to three, and then to two crew members. Now the big railroad companies have their sights set on implementation of the universal single employee train crew. The only thing that can stop them is YOU! Please join with Railroad Workers United in our effort to stop the implementation of single employee train crews!"

"The advent of new technology together with a decline in union power, coupled with the rail carriers’ arrogant disregard for worker and public safety has seen the standard five-person train crew drop first to three, and then to two crew members. Now the big railroad companies have their sights set on implementation of the universal single employee train crew. The only thing that can stop them is YOU! Please join with Railroad Workers United in our effort to stop the implementation of single employee train crews!"

The Campaign was officially unleashed on Labor Day 2012. The rail carriers have been slowly but surely  making inroads and it is only a matter of time before they make an all-out  press for universal single employee crews. RWU says HELL NO! And we  encourage all of our members and supporters, all railroad workers to get  involved in the campaign to stop this crap.  READ MORE...

Popular Science magazine offers one of the best in-depth descriptions of the issues surrounding Positive Train Control.  CLICK HERE to read.

RWU Campaign against “Blame-the-Worker” Safety Programs

During the past several years we have seen an explosion of “Blame-the-Worker” safety programs on Class 1 railroads in the U.S. These programs have been fairly commonplace in other industries and many other labor unions have been struggling with them for years.  more...


To provide assistance to others who may be concerned about rail yards or rail lines in or near their communities. CLICK HERE FOR SITE

Railroad Workers United: The Video

Rail freight carrier and passenger train companies have been finding ways to get their workers to do more for less for the past few decades. Considering how much the economy of the U.S. depends upon the massive amount of freight moved by trains, one would think the unions representing those workers to be very powerful. However, there are a dozen different unions, divided among craft, representing the various workers in the several rail companies in this country. To counter the divisive race to the bottom caused by cross-union fighting in the industry, rank-and-file rail workers of every craft have joined together to form RAILROAD WORKERS UNITED. [Click on the icon below]

RWU Steering Committee Member Mark Burrows

Mark speaking at UTU convention 2011, very inspiring, check it out

RWU Adopts a Series of New Resolutions at Convention

At the 4th Biennial Convention in Chicago, RWU adopted a series of resolutions. While these are simply public statements of our position of various issues, they are designed to anchor the organization and give it guidance and direction in the coming years. Without action of course, these resolutions are hollow words. So let’s make them happen!

Resolution on Dignity & Respect

 This Resolution commits RWU to set up a committee to address issues of dignity and respect for railroad workers on the job. These human situations are at the core of most of the challenges we face on the rails. Be it labor relations, policies, culture, etc. RWU will soon create a survey to invite the membership of RWU and all railroad employees to weigh in on the seriousness of the issues surrounding dignity and respect. We will advertise the survey on our website, list serve, and through social media. Be on the lookout for this soon and have your voice heard.

 Resolution on Expanding RWU in Canada and Mexico

 While we now have RWU members in most states in the U.S., mass membership has failed to take root in Canada or Mexico. This resolution cites the importance of building RWU among all three countries of North America and commits the organization to doing just that. The rail carriers know no boundaries; for example, witness the actions of CN and CP in the U.S., or the KCS and the UP in Mexico. Railroad workers need to build international solidarity.

Resolution on Inward Facing Cab Cameras

 RWU has adopted two previous resolutions on this subject, one of great importance to the operating crafts. This new Resolution speaks to the new conditions we are now facing, since the FRA announcement this past winter of its intent to promulgate rules for the generalized installation of such cameras in all locomotives. While we still hope to stop them, this Resolution points to the need to place limits and restrictions on just how the rail carriers would be able to make use of such in-cab cameras.

Resolution on Expanding RWU in Non-Operating Crafts

 Similar to the Resolution on expanding RWU throughout North America, this Resolution directs RWU to build our membership among the non-operating crafts. While the vast majority of crafts and unions are present among the membership ranks of RWU, the organization - which has its roots in the operating crafts - continues to be dominated by those in train and engine service. This Resolution makes it clear that RWU intends to develop our membership among the non-operating crafts in the coming years.

Resolution on Ongoing Training & Education

 In the face of computerized and automated testing, abolition of group face-to-face classes, and a “one-size-fits-all” approach by the carriers, RWU has adopted this Resolution to promote regular quality learning experiences for railroad workers. Many rails are unhappy with the trend towards isolated individualized testing, the inability for employees to ask questions and obtain clarifications, and the lack of a group learning experience. We hope the rail carriers will heed this message.