Rail unions warn of potential Amtrak service shutdown

Posted on November 16, 2005

Railroad unions picketed Amtrak's 30th Street Station in Philadelphia Wednesday to protest a six-year stalemate in contract negotiations, which if not resolved will lead to a shutdown of the railroad's Northeast Corridor. The unions, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees, which together comprise the Rail Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, are also protesting plans of the White House-appointed Amtrak Board of Directors to break up the railroad with "so-called reforms designed to attack railroad employees' pensions and outsource union jobs," according to a statement. "The current Amtrak Board of Directors are political patrons of the White House and know nothing about operating a railroad," said Mark Kenney, general chairman of the Locomotive Engineers Division. Jed Dodd, General Chairman of the Maintenance of Way Workers Division, said, "We have been trying to negotiate a new agreement...for six long years. This situation is headed to a service shutdown of Amtrak, which will also shut down the commuters who depend upon the Northeast Corridor." Union leaders encouraged commuters to contact their political representatives to "insist on a fair resolution of the problem." The Locomotive Engineers represent 3,000 employees who operate Amtrak's trains. The Maintenance of Way Employees represent 2,500 employees who construct and maintain the railroad track, buildings and bridges and overhead catenary system on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. They represent approximately 40% of Amtrak's unionized workers.

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