RWU News & Activities
At the April Steering Committee meeting, RWU adopted a document that is designed as a template for local unions wishing to be prepared should a national "right-to-work" bill become the law of the land. This “Pledge of Honor to be a Loyal Union Member” is designed for rail locals around the country to make use of in their efforts to organize the local’s membership prior to any legislation being enacted. Should such a national bill become law, we want to be ready for it, and have all union members committed to stick with the union and vow to have each others’ backs.
All union locals, divisions, and lodges are encouraged to bring the idea to their monthly union meeting for discussion. Your union may wish to adopt the "Pledge" as is, or modify it and amend it as you see fit. The important thing is to start having these discussions, and get the members mobilized and committed to remain in the union!
Railroad Workers United (RWU) is a membership based organization, and as such, the vast majority of our funding comes from our members through their annual dues. We have kept the dues at $50 a year (that’s just $4.16 a month!) since we were founded nearly 10 years ago. And we hope to keep them that way to ensure maximum membership and participation in the organization. That said, we are living in extraordinary times which call for extraordinary action. And that takes money.
Therefore, RWU will engage in our first ever fundraising drive this spring. We encourage all members and supporters to contribute what they can, either as a one-time or a recurring donation. More details are available on the website.
Things that we have taken for granted for so long - Railroad Retirement (1935); The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (1908); the union shop provision of the RLA (1951); Amtrak (1971); good wages, benefits and working conditions and a minimum of two in the cab (1830), are all under attack by rail CEO’s, boards of directors, and politicians alike. We as railroad workers have our work cut out for us. To win the battles that loom on the horizon, we need toeducate, organize, and motivate … and raise some necessary funds to assist us in this effort. Let’s face it, $4 a month from a small group of committed rail workers - no matter how committed - is not a lot of money to run a national organization with.
Throughout the spring, we will be posting notices on the RWU website and Facebook Page, and sending out email appeals to donate. Those of you who get this newsletter in the mail got a hard copy fundraising letter along with it. Please, donate what you can and help build Railroad Workers United!
Posted on December 08, 2016
Fred Zuckerman and Teamsters United campaigned on a platform of fighting job elimination, outsourcing, and fighting for safety for rail workers and the public. Rail Teamsters responded.
The 40,000 members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) voted by 59.1% for Fred Zuckerman over Hoffa.
The 33,000 members of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes (BMWE) voted by 60.1% for Fred Zuckerman.
The Teamsters on almost every rail carrier voted for Teamsters United.
RWU Reaches Out to Support Our Embattled Brothers & Sisters
An alliance of national organizations have come together to create A Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service. Some congressional politicians with the support of their corporate benefactors are trying to force the Postal Service into privatization. Realizing this travesty for what it actually is, the RWU Steering Committee took action to support this Grand Alliance.
RWU feels it is important to lend support to organizations and unions who are working to protect jobs and rebuild working class strength.
Here are just two of the facts about this issue:
- The USPS uses 0 (zero) taxpayer dollars to operate. It is self-sufficient; all of its revenue is generated by the sale of its products and services.
- Since 2006, Congress has required the USPS to prepay future retiree health benefits 75 years in advance over a 10-year period – at a cost of approximately $5.5 billion per year. No other business or government agency is required to do this. The Postal Service’s “losses” are the result of the pre-funding requirement.
RWU Co-Sponsored Three Conferences
These workshops were offered at one-day conferences on “The Future of Railroads: Safety, Workers, Community, and Environment,” They were held on March 14 in Richmond, California, March 21 in Olympia, Washington and September 19 in Chicago. More info is available on the Home Page
Mobile Rail Solutions contracts to service locomotives for the UPRR in the Chicago area, The workers have organized a union seeking full recognition through the Industrial Workers of the World, and the company is dead-set opposed to this. The union busting campaign is on as these workers have just gone public with their drive for union recognition. They are in the heat of the battle and the serious harassment has started. Therefore, RWU urges all railroaders to come to the workers' aid and assistance. Their fight is our fight!
CLICK HERE to read the RWU Resolution of support.
Railway Whistleblowers Get Some Federal Protection at Last.
In These Times Features BY KARI LYDERSEN
The 19th-century railroad boom enabled not only the settling of the American West, the industrial revolution and the growth of American cities, but also the creation of a new class of corporate owners. The railroad magnates of the 19th and early 20th centuries amassed such wealth and wielded such political clout that they seemed almost omnipotent. The 1886 U.S. Supreme Court case Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad Company is known as the first significant ruling to grant corporations the same constitutional equal rights protections as human beings.
In many ways, that sense of overwhelming corporate power has endured to the present, at least in major railroad companies’ relations with their employees. Railroad workers and their attorneys say—and federal courts and government regulators have agreed—that for decades there has been an endemic problem of retaliation by railroad companies against employees who are injured on the job or who speak out about safety hazards. Often the two issues go together: Injury investigations bring safety hazards to light. READ MORE.
Note: After the tragic on-the-job loss of a Signal Maintainer in New York on April 24, Kari followed up with an additional article:
A relatively obscure but important position within the railroad local union is the office of "Delegate". While the position's duties may vary somewhat from union to union, basically the duty of the delegate is to represent the local at the national (international) union level through participation in the Convention and/or other forums as may be designated by the union's constitution and bylaws.
RWU has created and now makes available a new flyer which takes on the question of who can best represent a local union at the national level. what positions on the issues the local union delegate might want to consider taking at the Convention; and the obstacles to watch out for while at the Convention.
We hope more rank-and-file union members will consider serving as their local union's delegate. It is our hope that The Local Union Delegate & You: How to Represent Your Local at the National Level. can assist, inspire and give you the confidence you need to run for the important position of Local Union Delegate.
On Labor Day, 2012, RWU formally kicked off our accelerated campaign of opposition to single employee train crews. While we had been working on the issue for 6 years at that point, we knew it was time to throw the campaign into overdrive. Through articles and flyers, buttons and stickers, we focused awareness of the issue. Less than two years later, BNSF would attempt to start running trains in such a fashion. By this time, railroad workers were ready to meet them on the battlefield!
To see the original special supplement to RWU's newsletter The Highball for Fall 2012, CLICK HERE.
Chicago IL - January 11, 2013 - RWU members Jon Flanders and Ed Michael were Delegates at the Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare Conference this weekend. More than two hundred union leaders and activists gathered in Chicago for the Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare’s fourth national conference to strategize about next steps for labor in the movement to win universal health care.
The conference had an unexpectedly large turnout that included representatives from ten state and local labor councils, more than 50 different unions and especially strong representation from five state nurses associations. Delegates were joined by many supporters from national and local health care reform organizations.
RWU Held-Away-From-Home TV
Ralf was a crane operator who had spent 19 years working for Electro-Motive Diesel in London, Ont., until parent Caterpillar Inc. tabled a demand for a 50-per-cent wage haircut and the workers were locked out and a cancer-stricken Ralf Zapke found himself on a snowy January Saturday protesting Caterpillar in a crowd of thousands.
Zapke’s name wasn’t on the union handout of suggested contacts. He was just standing there, quietly on that bright and cold all-Canadian day, crisp snow underfoot, picture-book sky, the kind of guy a writer can turn a story on, cause you just know he’s real, and not somebody’s mouthpiece.