Larry Willis, President of the Transportation Trades Department AFL-CIO (TTD), of which TCU is a member, testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, And Transportation in a hearing titled:
“THE STATE OF TRANSPORTATION AND CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE: EXAMINING THE IMPACT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC”
In the written statement from TTD president Willis:
On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), and our 33 affiliated unions, I want to first thank Chairman Wicker and Ranking Member Cantwell for inviting me to testify today on the impact of COVID-19 on the surface transportation sector and associated challenges.
As COVID-19 has spread across the nation, causing over 100,000 deaths and unprecedented disruption to our way of life, we appreciate the opportunity to share the perspective of the frontline transportation workforce.
The working people we represent move America. Our members run and build the transportation networks that bring people, goods, and critical supplies to every corner of our nation. It is our members in every segment of the aviation, transit, rail, longshore, and maritime sectors that make these industries function. They are essential by any definition of the word.
Over the last few months, many of these workers have continued to perform their essential duties, far too often at great personal cost. Many others find themselves among the 40 million Americans who have lost their jobs due to an economy that has ground to a halt. During a national health crisis, these members are now without their hard-earned union health care benefits, and are unsure when the next paycheck is coming. Workers have felt these impacts across every sector of the transportation industry, and I am here today to tell their stories.
When essential employees like medical personnel have to get to their jobs, it is our members who get them there safely. Thousands of transit workers have continued to drive and maintain buses in the face of pandemic, despite dozens of deaths in the sector. At the same time, a drastic drop in fare box revenues threatens the abilities of transit agencies to continue to provide service at all.
A 95% decrease in ridership on Amtrak threatens the livelihood of its employees and the future of the carrier, who just last week announced it will be cutting up to 20% of its workforce starting in the fall. The indefinite cancellation of in-person education has left thousands of school bus drivers out of a job with no end in sight. The motorcoach industry, which provides critical intercity transportation across the country, has seen nearly 3,000 companies shut down and almost 100,000 employees laid off.
This crisis also reminds us of the irreplaceable role of our freight network and its essential workforce. Food, medical supplies, and the goods that fuel our economy must still reach their destinations, yet, COVID-19 has not spared the systems and employees that move them. Across the country, freight railroads are slashing already dangerously thin workforces as carloads fall. We are witnessing outbreaks at ports and harbors where longshoremen load and unload vessels in close quarters, and increasingly uncertain futures for the maritime shipping industry and sustainment of the essential defense functions it provides. Even the Postal Service is at risk, as USPS and the 600,000 jobs it supports face total insolvency in a matter of months without needed and warranted government assistance.
Click here to read the full statement from TTD President Willis.