Amtrak President Attacks Workers Rights

Amtrak President Attacks Workers Rights

On April 25th Amtrak President David Gunn posted an employee advisory singing the praises of the Amtrak Board’s proposal for so-called reform. In this he outlines what was in the Board of Director’s Amtrak Strategic Reform Initiatives and FY06 Grant Request which had been sent to Congress on April 21.

While Gunn does not mention the plan to eliminate or contract out certain functions including on-board services and coach cleaning, he does touch on two areas that directly affect the employees. First, he states that the Railway Labor Act should be changed in order to move Amtrak “closer to a standard business.” He envisions labor contracts expiring at a date certain where after the management could “impose new terms” and unions could strike. Second, Gunn says that it is proposed that new employees would be placed in social security while current employees would remain in railroad retirement.

Both of these proposals take away basic rights that all railway workers in this country enjoy. The Railway Labor Act is structured so as to maintain the status quo while the parties negotiate; however, it does lead to the possibility of the carrier implementing new terms and/or the union members striking. The only problem with the Railway Labor Act and Amtrak has been the management’s refusal to negotiate in good faith with the unions.

Amtrak’s proposal to have new employees placed in social security would ultimately destroy the railroad retirement system for current workers and retirees.

The arrogance of President Gunn shows up throughout this employee advisory. Every Amtrak employee should read this for what it is—another attack on the employees.

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