[A Spanish language version of this video is HERE]
"Our nation can no longer afford private ownership of the railroads; the general welfare demands that they be brought under public ownership."
~ From the STATEMENT OF THE UE GENERAL EXECUTIVE BOARD, January 30, 2023
On Wednesday, March 1, 2023 Solutionary Rail hosted an important virtual panel discussion with Carl Rosen, General President of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), Scott Slawson, President of UE Local 506 that represents workers at Wabtec, in Erie, PA, and some leading EJ organizers from around the country.
The growing calls for Public Ownership of US Railroads are an appropriate response to the MULTIPLE public needs/solutions that railroads have the potential to deliver, but refuse to do so:
- EJ Communities need railyards to be electrified ASAP.
- Rail labor needs sustainable, dignified work.
- Shippers, growers, and manufacturers of all sizes need reliable and robust service that is competitive with trucking.
- The Public needs a mode shift of freight from trucks to rail.
- Rail passengers need freight railroads to preference passenger trains, as required by statute.
- Public safety needs train operations that put communities and workers before profits.
- Environmental protection and a livable climate need a mode shift to rail and the electrification of rail that reduces dependence on batteries and further harms from extraction.
- The US energy transition to renewables needs access to rail corridors and rights of way for a new US transmission/SuperGrid.
- Rural communities, farmers, and manufacturers need a return of regular and reliable service for passengers and freight.
- US manufacturers of locomotives need unionized, living wages jobs building out the components of a sustainable and resilient infrastructure.
As pointed out by our friends at Railroad Workers United, NONE of this will happen without a dramatic shift away from the current corporate railroad regime. This is the time for all the above stakeholders to lock arms to take on and take over the Wall St. Railroads.
Listen to and share this unique and timely conversation - and please share with your friends and allies.
More Info on this topic:
American Prospect, The Filthy Emissions of Railroad Locomotives—and the Rail Unions Sounding the Alarm
(This article actually links to and draws from our panel discussion.)
Scott Slawson is the president of UE Local 506 at Wabtec in Erie, Pennsylvania. He has been a UE member for 16 years, and prior to being elected president served as alternate union steward, union steward, alternate chief steward, and divisional chief steward.
Yvette Arellano (they/them) is a gulf coast organizer and emerging leader from Houston dedicated to environmental and racial justice. Yvette has served as a policy research and grassroots advocate with Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services and recently founded Fenceline Watch, a community-run effort. In 2015, they led the campaign against H.R. 702, which opened the floodgates to U.S. crude oil exports. They were instrumental in the publication Double Jeopardy in Houston, Air Toxics and Health in the Houston Community of Manchester, and Plastic and Health: The Hidden Cost of a Plastic Planet. This report highlights the disproportionate toxic impact of the petrochemical industry on communities living on the fenceline.
Throughout their work, Yvette emphasizes that access to clean water, air, land, and food is a fundamental human right best pursued through vigorous intersectional thinking and organizing. They understand the importance of a multi-pronged approach that embraces various advocacy methods, including policy development, litigation, research, direct actions, coalition building, and crisis response.
Currently, Yvette is leading efforts in Houston, home of the largest petrochemical complex in the nation, to help the city’s most vulnerable communities on the petrochemical expansion fueled by plastic production. Yvette is the recipient of the 2020 Community Sentinel Award.