American railroad practices are a hazard to workers’ health

This is not the way it is in all countries. Several countries have much more comprehensive workplace health regulations than we do in the U.S.

Forcing railroad workers to accept a labor contract to avoid a strike is wrong. It interferes with their right to have a say in their working conditions. Their demands are reasonable.

The lives of railroad operating crews are unnecessarily difficult. No sick days, often on-call 24/7, with long hours and shifts that can change every day without a plan or warning. There’s no ability to take a day off unless your bosses feel generous.

I was a railroad engineer for 30 years, most of the time under these conditions. My life and whether I could show up for important life events like holidays, weddings or time with family, was completely at the whim of my bosses. Because of this work hours issue, I helped start a union on that railroad.

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We were also exposed to excessive noise and vibration, silica and asbestos dust and diesel exhaust fumes. This is not the way it is in all countries. When I did research on hearing loss in 1983, I found that several countries had much more comprehensive workplace health regulations than we do in the U.S.

Around 2000, I worked with some engineers from the New Zealand Rail system. Unlike us, they had regular schedules with time off. Even those on the “extra list” had a schedule with days off and regular shifts that they would be liable to work, if needed. They knew those shifts a long time in advance. They could only be called to work during a certain window of time, and would only work one shift.

In contrast, American railroad practices are a great hazard to health and seem intended to destroy their workers’ quality of life. This is not the way it has to be.

Dan Bailey, retired founding president, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers Div. 184

Mike Pence says he does not believe Donald Trump is antisemitic or racist, and says he would not have served as Trump’s vice-president if he was. Interesting logic.

What about Trump’s calling in 1989 for the execution of the Central Park 5 who were framed and then exonerated? Trump has never apologized. How about Trump’s response of the “very fine people on both sides” after chants in Charlottesville in 2017 of “Jews will not replace us?” Or how about Trump’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border?

Pence was Trump’s VP for the same reason he refuses to say that Trump is antisemitic or racist: he thinks he benefits politically. Perhaps before lecturing us on how we should live our lives, Pence should “first cast out the beam out of thine own eye” (Matthew 7:5) regarding Trump. 

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