A few dozen members of SMART TD and the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) joined together Friday, July 23 at St. Paul, Minnesota’s Union Depot to protest President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to all long-distance rail service currently provided by Amtrak.
Minnesota State Legislative Director Phil Qualy and Local 911 member and NARP representative Cameron Slick organized the protest together.
“Airports are heavily subsidized, roads are completely paid for by the government, I think our country is able to afford a decent train system,” Slick told NBC affiliate KARE 11.
Click here to read more about the protest from KARE 11.
Click here to view a map of proposed cuts of Amtrak.
The Minnesota State Legislative Board is hosting a meeting Monday, December 21, 2015, in conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Education and Economic Development (MN DEED). The meeting will be held at the South St. Paul VFW 295, 111 Exchange St., St. Paul, from 5:00 pm. through 6:00 p.m.
MN DEED will be focusing on emergency assistance (mortgage help), job training, job counseling and much more.
“I would like to stress that furloughed members should not resign from their positions on the railroad,” Minnesota State Legislative Director Phil Qualy said. “These meetings are designed to provide our furloughed members with skills and training while they are on furloughed status and are in need of other temporary employment.
“We have over 200 furloughed workers across Minnesota from BNSF, CP and UP properties. Looking forward to 2016, we do not see an economic trend line that will lead to a large recall of furloughed workers at this time. With the recent passage of a federal highway construction bill and the weakening of a strong dollar, we hope our industry will recover.”
If you have been furloughed, it is highly recommended that you consider attending this meeting.
A holiday party will immediately follow the meeting at the same location, hosted by locals 650 (Minneapolis) and 1614 (St. Paul). All are welcome to attend.
Canadian Pacific Railway has furloughed approximately 30 workers in recent months from its operation in Thief River Falls, Minn., according to union officials.
The job cuts are among roughly 90 furloughs at CP sites across Minn. that the United Transportation Union has counted since October 2012, part of what the union says are aggressive job cuts that followed leadership changes in the company at that time.
“We’re not happy about it,” said Phillip J. Qualy, SMART-UTU Minnesota legislative director.
With the adjournment of the 2012 Minnesota legislative session, the Minnesota AFL-CIO, along with the UTU and other AFL-CIO member organizations, has succeeded in defending against right-to-work (for less) legislation introduced by Tea Party Republicans.
“The AFL-CIO lobbying team held every Democratic Farm Labor Party legislator in support of a Working Family Agenda that included defeat of the right-to-work (for less) legislation by convincing a core block of moderate and veteran Republicans to vote against the bill,” said UTU Minnesota State Legislative Director Phil Qualy.
Additionally, said Qualy, “despite Republican control of both chambers in the state legislature, for the first time in 38 years, none of our state safety statutes has been harmed during the legislative session now ended.”
Qualy commended UTU Locals 911, 1000 and 1067, which hosted Minnesota AFL-CIO training sessions on the law, which would have weakened collective bargaining rights.
“Also to be commended are UTU members and retirees who called their legislators and made the difference when the Republican leadership heard loud and clear from main street and good middle class Americans,” Qualy said.
MINNEAPOLIS — The United Transportation Union and Progressive Rail have finalized a first-time collective bargaining agreement for Progressive Rail train and engine workers represented by the UTU.
Progressive Rail is a shortline with four locations around Minneapolis, interchanging with major railroads.
UTU International Vice President John Previsich, who assisted in the negotiations – aided by a mediator with the National Mediation Board – said the agreement “provides for significant wage increases with pay classifications equal for all, a grievance process and a seniority preference for assignments and bidding. Overall, this is an excellent first agreement that dramatically improves wages, rules and working conditions for Progressive Rail employees.”
Previsich said the agreement received “overwhelming approval by the covered employees, who are to be commended for their solidarity and perseverance through a long and drawn-out negotiating process.
Praised were the negotiating efforts of General Chairperson James Nelson (GO 261), “who was instrumental in obtaining the fair and equitable agreement that the Progressive Rail employees deserve,” Previsich said. “Also deserving of recognition are Minnesota State Legislative Director Phil Qualy and the officers and members of UTU Local 911, all of whom supported the negotiating effort during every step of the process.”
UTU locals and state legislative boards in Minnesota and North Dakota are collecting non-perishable foods to aid union brothers and sisters who have been locked out of their jobs in six states by American Crystal Sugar (Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International) and Cooper Tire & Rubber (United Steel Workers).
This Journey for Justice, which involves other labor organizations, follows a December holiday toy drive benefitting children of the locked-out workers.
Beginning with a solidarity rally in Fargo Feb. 22, the Journey for Justice will make stops in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota and Ohio.
Cooper Tire & Rubber locked out more than 1,000 workers at its Findlay, Ohio, plant just after Thanksgiving, while American Crystal Sugar locked out some 1,300 of its workers at seven facilities more than six months ago, refusing to negotiate.
Journey for Justice leaders are using social media – Twitter and Facebook – to help publicize the effort on behalf of the locked-out workers, which is expected to add to the collection of non-perishable foods for their families.
“These anti-union employers think nothing of treating their workers as nothing more valuable than a used No. 2 pencils, to be discarded at will,” said UTU Alternate National Legislative Director John Risch, who formerly was state legislative director in North Dakota.
Said Minnesota State Legislative Director Phil Qualy: “These loyal and productive workers — our union brothers and sisters — have been locked out of their life-long jobs through no fault of their own. As fellow middle-class Americans and trade unionists, their plight is our plight and they need and deserve our help.”