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The 2022 Railroad Labor Disputes

*Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Imagine yourself and 115,000 other people being forced to work under a monopolistic and capitalism driven work environment run by one of the longest running and most lucrative businesses in the US: the Railroad Industry. The Railroad dates back to the early 1800s, being one of America’s most important industries before further inventions of transportation technology as we have today. As the Railway Industry dates back so far and is of such importance, it is assumed that it would be a healthy running system of businesses with the public interest at the center of the operation. Unfortunately for the several thousand Railroad workers, this is not the happy working environment one would have hoped.

The 2022 Railroad Labor Disputes is an ongoing battle between freight railroad industries and their workers. The workers have, of recently, begun to unionize to call a strike, requesting their pay to reflect the astronomical cost of life, especially here in the United States. The Railway has denied its workers sufficient wages, job security, paid leave, and have pressed onto them unfair terms and conditions for its workers to follow. One of the largest debates between the two parties is the Railway’s refusal to grant their workers paid sick leave, but mainly there is the basic issue of the business prioritizing payments and streamlining money to the wealthy stockholders over the well being of their own employees.

During the lockdowns following the first spread of Covid, the railroads almost tripled their job cuts and capacity reductions within their ranks. In response to the panic and drastic changes being forced onto industries of today, they acted as monopolists often do. Instead of adapting their operations to work in the newer age following Covid, they have been reducing their workforce and, putting the safety of their company first, charging prices way too expensive for the initial cost of the item. Dooming both the customers and the workers, the industry is simultaneously bleeding people dry of money and work, and increasing payments to their company shareholders. “Where would rail customers, rail workers, and the public be if a meaningful portion of that hundred and ninety-one billion dollars had been reinvested in expanding service and making service more predictable, reliable, and on time?” A question that Martin J. Oberman, the current chair of the Surface Transportation Board, asked, in a speech last year.

Most of these worker strikes and unionizations have been ignored for much too long, and though President Biden had issued a statement regarding the possible passing of a law to raise paid vacations, this should only be the start of the much needed changes in the Railroad industry. Capitalistic driven large businesses have a hand in every part of the economy, and the working class have been forced to bare their teeth and beat their chests to get much needed attention and consideration from people at the top of the pyramid. Railway workers have decided that they longer want to be under the thumb of duopolistic companies and have chosen instead to speak up and make a change for the better.

Sources: New York Times, NPR, ABC News

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