Risch speech to NARVRE: unity and action

May 17, 2016


“The greatest threat to Railroad Retirement and Social Security is if Congress tries to mess with either one, which would automatically affect our pensions,” said John Risch, National Legislative Director of SMART TD.  He made his remarks to the biannual convention of the National Association of Retired and Veteran Railway Employees, Inc., (NARVRE) in St. Louis, Missouri on May 16, 2016.
Risch thanked NARVRE leaders and members for their efforts in protecting Railroad Retirement and for their support of job related issues, including their strong support of Amtrak and pending legislation of the two-person crew bill.
Risch also explained that attacks on any defined benefit pension plan in America is really an indirect attack on Railroad Retirement.  He cited the recent attacks on public employee pensions and pointed out that “Instead of being critical of public employees because they have a pension, workers without pensions should be demanding a pension of their own.”
He urged attendees to meet with their congressional reps and senators, “whether they are right, left, Republican or Democrat – to make sure they understand our railroad pension and how it works, and to ask them to support more rail jobs by supporting passenger rail—and also, to support a law requiring two-person crews.”
Risch also outlined pending regulatory proposals including: railroad speed signs; locomotive inward facing cameras, remote control operations and others.
“It’s not NARVRE or the rail unions that will protect our pension. It’s the grass roots efforts of our members and people like all of you in this room—people who demand of their congressional delegation that Amtrak gets the money it needs; who demand that Congress keep their hands off our Railroad Retirement and Social Security. It means asking them to support more rail jobs; it means demanding that they support a law that requires two-person crews.”
“You are all political activists or you wouldn’t be at this convention,” Risch said.
“America’s railroad workers are counting on your help to protect Railroad Retirement and to grow rail jobs in America and we in SMART-TD pledge to do all we can to do the same,” he said.