In a rare acknowledgment of the value railroaders bring to the table, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) has named October 15 as “Railroad Workers Day”.
Gov. Murphy went on the record saying, “Through extreme weather events and a global pandemic, our state’s railroad workers have demonstrated extraordinary bravery despite significant obstacles. Their courage, as well as their role as the backbone of our state’s expanding transportation network, must not be overlooked. On October 15th – and every day – we honor the contributions of our workers not just as employees, but as New Jerseyans committed to promoting safety, efficiency, and economic activity in our local communities.”
By signing Senate Joint Resolution 86 (SJR 86), Gov. Murphy is giving a spotlight to rail labor in a moment when that light is desperately needed. As SMART-TD and other rail labor organizations engage in national rail labor negotiations with carriers who are willfully blind to the sacrifice and professionalism that our members embody, it is refreshing to hear that our answer to the call of duty has not gone unheard or unnoticed.
“Railroads continue to serve a crucial, and often overlooked, role in our society. Whether in transporting consumer goods or helping commuters get to and from work, we rely on rail services and railroad workers to keep our economy afloat,” said Assemblyman Daniel Benson (D), chair of the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee. “By designating October 15th as New Jersey Railroad Workers Day, we carve out time to recognize the invaluable service railroad workers provide for the people of New Jersey.”
N.J. State Sen. Patrick J. Diegnan (D) was the primary sponsor of SJR 86 and cited rail labor’s persistence through COVID-19 as one of the reasons he felt it necessary to push this resolution through. In reference to our efforts, Diegnan said, “Without their contributions, the pandemic’s adverse impact on New Jersey and its residents would have been exacerbated. These workers put themselves and their families at risk for the benefit of the entire state. This recognition is a token of our appreciation for the dedication and sacrifices of all railroad workers. I am extremely proud to be a part of establishing the annual ‘New Jersey Railroad Workers Day.’”
For his part, SMART-TD New Jersey State Legislative Director (SLD) Ron Sabol said, “The men and women moving freight and passengers through the pandemic were not only essential workers, they should be viewed as heroic. Wherever there is a crisis going on, you have railroaders putting it on the line to fix it. Where there are wars, railroad infrastructure is always on the list of targets. Much is asked of our men and women, whether it means getting supplies to store shelves and nurses to their shifts during COVID or getting people out of the Ukraine to avoid civilian casualties. Railroad workers are getting it done everywhere you look. This consistent selflessness in times of chaos is why I thought it was important to get this bill done. These men and women deserve recognition and respect.”
SMART-TD would like to thank SLD Sabol, state Sen. Diegnan, Assembly Transportation Chairman Benson, Gov. Murphy and the state of New Jersey for putting in the work to get this bill through the legislative process. We look forward to celebrating Railroad Workers Day with you in your state for years to come.