As prescribed by the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the SMART Transportation Division acknowledges the ability of Congress to legally impose the Tentative National Rail Agreement upon the operating-craft employees represented by the SMART-TD. While it is unfortunate that our members were not able to approve the agreement in which they work under, we thank the President, House Speaker, Senate leadership, and Cabinet members for their support at the negotiating table and on the floor of Congress in an attempt to achieve more for our members.
It is extremely disappointing that 43 Senators voted to prioritize the corporate greed of rail carriers and CEOs over the needs and quality-of-life improvements that our members so desperately deserve. Because of Precision Scheduled Railroading, our members are forced to work more hours, have less stability, suffer more stress and receive less rest. The ask for sick leave was not out of preference, but rather out of necessity. No American worker should ever have to face the decision of going to work sick, fatigued or mentally unwell versus getting disciplined or being fired by their employer, yet that is exactly what is happening every single day on this nation’s largest freight railroads.
The Senators who opposed the measure all have paid sick days, as do their staff. Apparently, they believe the nation’s rail workers are “essential” to the American economy and supply chain, but not essential enough to deserve the same protection as them when becoming ill. By voting against that measure, these Senators made no illusions that they side with the decision that is most economically beneficial to their deep-pocketed corporate donors.
Our efforts to improve the lives of our membership will continue during future negotiations, as well as in the regulatory and legislative process. The American rail worker has spoken, as have the American rail shippers. The national freight rail network is broken, and the need for long-term rail reform is clear. Labor and shippers are united on this front. More must be done to reverse the harmful effects of Precision Scheduled Railroading and to right the ship for this nation’s economy and the hard-working members of SMART-TD.