Building Labor - Community Alliances


“Railroad Safety: Workers, Community & the Environment”

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Building a Labor – Community Alliance Around Railroad Safety

In recent years, public attention has focused on the railroad. In the wake of Lac-Mégantic and other derailments, the public is alarmed about oil trains and the movement of trains in general through their communities. Environmental activists, other community organizations and community and state governments are up-in-arms about the amount of fossil fuels moving by rail. Farmers and other shippers are concerned about the congestion that crude-by-rail caused in 2014-2015. .

As all railroaders well know, the public generally has no idea what goes on daily on America’s railroads. Chronic crew fatigue, single employee train crews, excessively long and heavy trains, draconian availability policies, short staffing, limited time off work create challenging safety issues of concern not just to railroaders, but to the entire population.

As railroaders, we know that crude-by-rail creates jobs and we know that rail is the safest way to transport most any commodity.  But we also know the rail industry has taken advantage of a lax regulatory environment, conservative pro-business governments, and weakened unions across North America to roll the dice on safety.

If all of rail labor is ever to be successful in the fight to achieve a safe working environment, we must be able to educate the public about our situation and the dangers that we - and by extension, they - face.. We must find common ground to bring railroad workers, environmentalists, community activists and concerned citizens together in order to build the movement for a safer and greener railroad, one that is more responsive to the needs of workers, track-side communities, citizens in general, and society as a whole.

CLICK HERE to find out more about RWU's first successful efforts to reach out & find common ground with environmental & other community organizations.


February 13, 2017

How Labor and Climate United Can Trump Trump

by Jeremy Brecher

Donald Trump and his congressional Republican allies have taken control of the U.S. government. The result threatens to be devastating for both labor and the climate — not to mention immigrants, African Americans, Muslims, women, children, the elderly, the disabled, LGBTQ people, and many others.

The Trump regime is potentially vulnerable because it only represents the interests of the top 1% of the top 1%. But it has a potentially winning strategy to rule nonetheless: keep those who might stand up in the interest of the 99.9 percent divided and therefore powerless. While Trump has played black against white, Latino against Anglo, women against men, gay against straight, and exploited many other divisions, his “trump card” may well be his ability to divide labor and climate advocates. Read more ...


RWU Supports Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service

In the face of aggressive attacks, a wide range of national organizations have come together to create A Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service. These organizations are united in the demand that the public good must not be sacrificed for the sake of private investment and profit. A strong public Postal Service is our democratic right. The Alliance - which includes Railroad Workers United -  is fighting to protect and enhance vibrant public postal services now and for many generations to come.  Get the facts HERE.


How Labor - Community Alliances Can Work

In the past few years, labor & community organizations have found that they are stronger when they find common ground & unite around issues important to each.  Below are just a few examples.

Example #1

Bus Stewards Win More Routes Through Alliance with Riders

by Nick Bedell, education director for TWU Local 100. - Published in Labor Notes

New York City transit workers are allying with bus and subway riders for better conditions.

New York City transit workers ran a winning campaign when we turned to community organizing in our fight against cuts in service.

The cuts to bus service were severe: 38 routes eliminated and 76 with shorter routes or shorter hours. Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 fought the Metropolitan Transportation Authority every step of the way, protesting at board meetings and in front of the director’s house. And we managed to get our laid-off workers back over the course of a year.

But the local officers, headed by President John Samuelsen, had run on a promise to form coalitions with the riding public. We knew that to restore lost service, we’d have to involve the communities hit by the cuts.

When we did, we discovered an untapped resource of connections our stewards had—outside the workplace.  Read more.

Example #2

Student-Labor Alliance Aims to Lift Standards at Vanderbilt

by Benjamin Eagles who is an organizer with OUR Vanderbilt.  Published in Labor Notes

"...Last fall, a broad group came together to tackle these problems. Called Organized and United for Respect at Vanderbilt, OUR Vanderbilt’s mission is to institutionalize community support for a worker-led movement for economic justice. They’re asking for better wages, to reflect workers’ importance to the university."   Read about it HERE.

Example #3

Cleaning Up: The Power of Community-Labor Partnerships

From the AFL-CIO

"After years of organizing, Los Angeles car wash workers successfully negotiated contracts with three car washes and gained workplace rights most workers should be able to take for granted: sick leave, access to health care, workplace safety, lunch breaks, living wages and respect. The car wash workers were successful, in large part, through the strength of community-labor partnerships: the United Steelworkers teamed up with the Community Labor Environmental Action Network (CLEAN), faith-based groups such as Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice and low-income immigrant rights organizations such as the Wage Justice Center and Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance."

Example #4

Community Alliances

From:  AAUP-AFT American Association of University Professors, RUTGERS
American Federation of Teachers • AFL-CIO

As the union of one of the most diverse faculties in the nation that serves more than 58,000 students from all 50 states and more than 125 countries, we have a responsibility to the communities in which we live and work. We've formed meaningful alliances with other groups and individuals to protect and expand economic, social and political rights for all of our faculty, staff and students.  Read More


Members of the Seattle community join with railroad workers to protest the prospects of single employee train crews on September, 2014. RWU sees huge potential to build a labor - community alliance around rail safety issues of concern to both workers and community members.

Members of the Seattle community join with railroad workers to protest the prospects of single employee train crews on September, 2014. RWU sees huge potential to build a labor - community alliance around rail safety issues of concern to both workers and community members.