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U.S. rail workers say deal won't resolve quality-of-life concerns

21 Comments
By JOSH FUNK

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When BNSF railroad conductor Justin Schaaf needed to take time off from work in the summer, he had to make a choice: go to the dentist to get a cavity in his molar filled or attend a party for his son's 7th birthday.

Neo-liberal late stage capitalism in a nutshell.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Uh ... I don't know the worker's schedule, but some dentists are open nights and weekends. There are 24-hour emergency dentists, if that is needed, but I'd hate to see their rates. Took me about 30 seconds to find a local dentist with hours until 7pm 2 nights every week and even less time to find 24-hour emergency dentists.

Life is about priorities. Taking an entire day off for a 7th birthday seems a bit excessive to me. Perhaps it is a family difference. I can't recall Dad ever taking a day off for any birthday, ever.

Acting like attending a child's birthday party is more important than having a serious tooth issue fixed is just wrong. He made a bad choice and could have gone to the dentist either in the morning or the afternoon that day, and spend the rest of the time with the kid, if desired.

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The Fu,have worked around a dangerous job ,like people that work on trains,some nut get caught, between the track and derail a train full of hazardous chemicals

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Third world working conditions.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Neo-liberal late stage capitalism in a nutshell.

Oh?

Biden signed a bill Friday to block a strike and force workers to accept the agreements union leaders made in September, even though four of the 12 unions — which include a majority of rail workers — voted to reject them.

No further comment required.

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@the Fu, engineers and conductors, the two people who operate a freight train can work as long as 12 consecutive hours before they have to be relieved. Pretty much every railroad works their train crew that long. When they hit the 12 hour mark and "die by the clock", the train is stopped and met by a van with a relief crew (you will see the white vans that say "Renzenburger" on their doors sitting along railroad tracks all over the US, the contractor for the crew changes, I call them Rancidburger). The van will take the timed out crew to a hotel somewhere for their "10 consecutive hours of crew rest". The railroads sometimes try to call the van ride to the hotel as part of their crew rest. When the 10 hours is over, the crew is on a 2 hour recall. They will be taken by van to another train and off they go for another 12 hour shift. Crew members can be out as long as one month before they have time off at home with their families, bouncing from motel to motel never knowing where they will spend the next night. And don't you dare get sick while you are out there.

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Biden signed a bill Friday to block a strike and force workers to accept the agreements union leaders made in September, even though four of the 12 unions — which include a majority of rail workers — voted to reject them.

No further comment required.

Biden is a neo-liberal late stage capitalist who makes nods to identity issues.

It is par for the course to sabotage workers for the mainstream Dems if you didn't know. Obama bailed out wall Street and left millions of households to be in foreclosure and bankruptcy.

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I think I need to coin a philosophy of neo-neoliberalism so that big government control types can’t lumped in with my crowd.

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DT,in the old days,they use have a caboose,where the crews slept,these people were nice ,they use give us flares and torpedo,they strap on the rail roads,when we where kids

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I'm gonna change my stance. Thanks for the people who pointed out some of the draconian rules these union members are under.

Seems some of the rail companies have gone to a "points" based attendance system to effectively force workers to be available whenever the company wants. It doesn't allow time for sickness, health check ups or family emergencies. https://www.npr.org/2022/09/14/1122918098/railroads-freight-rail-union-strike-train-workers explains the points system uses by many rail companies. It is like a negative feedback gold-star system for children.

When a far left senator and a far right senator both agree that a policy is bad for the workers, that says something important. How the rail companies got away with this is hard to say, since Congress is on the hook for legislating Rail safety and forcing sick workers and tired workers to run 150+ car trains that can kill people and force evacuations of entire towns should an accident happen. These people are every bit as critical to safe transportation as a jumbo-jet flying 500 passengers. Seems that similar rules for rest and maximum monthly work hours should be in the laws.

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Railroads are some of the most profitable businesses in the US, with a 50% profit margin.

They just don’t want to spend more on workers because they spend so much on investor dividends, executive salaries and perks and stock buybacks.

Let ‘em eat cake is their mission statement…

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Why not federally mandate paid vacation days? The USA is the only advanced economy that doesn't mandate any paid vacation days or holidays. That includes maternal and paternal leave, which the vast majority of Americans (93%) would support.

In this case, the Senate needed 60 votes to secure sick leave for railway workers. 43 senators voted against. All 43 were Republicans.

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No further comment required.

Biden is a neo-liberal late stage capitalist who makes nods to identity issues.

Sick leave was blocked by Republicans and Republicans alone.

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Never let politics get in the way of facts.

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Railroads are some of the most profitable businesses in the US, with a 50% profit margin.

Those are gross margins. Net margins are half that or less.

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Gross margin is the percentage of revenue that exceeds the cost of goods sold, or COGS. Gross profit is the absolute dollar amount of revenue that a company generates beyond its direct production costs. Thus, an alternate rendering of the gross margin equation becomes gross profit divided by total revenues. Net profit is the gross profit (revenue minus COGS) minus operating expenses and all other expenses, such as taxes and interest paid on debt. 

Net profits are more informative of a companies profitability but some like to quote gross profit for shock value, hoping the less financially astute do not understand the difference and get reeled in by the higher value.

I also want to add that railroad activity is highly cyclical. In 2019 railroad volume crashed and railroads were furloughing employees by the thousands.

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I also want to add that railroad activity is highly cyclical. In 2019 railroad volume crashed and railroads were furloughing employees by the thousands.

I don't see it that way. The Jones Act essentially gives rail freight almost total monopoly for local freight. If rail freight volume declines it's usually because of external factors, not freight industries competitive tensions.

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I don't see it that way. The Jones Act essentially gives rail freight almost total monopoly for local freight.

The Jones Act doesn't apply to railroads. It governs maritime transport between US ports. The Jones Act requires goods shipped between U.S. ports to be transported on ships that are built, owned, and operated by United States citizens or permanent residents. The act was passed during WWI to promote the US maritime industry.

The railroad industry wsa deregulated in 1980 with the Staggers Act that superceded the rules regarding rail transport in the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887.

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The only connection to rail transportation in the Jone Act that I can find is something called the "Third Proviso". Under this carveout, the Jones Act does not apply to routes that take place “in part over Canadian rail lines and connecting water facilities,” so long as the routes are recognized by the federal agency that oversees rail transportation.

There is an interesting court case that involves exactly that proviso.

https://thecounter.org/american-seafoods-jones-act-lawsuit-customs-border-protection-third-proviso/

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The Jones Act doesn't apply to railroads

Exactly!

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