Calls Grow for Public Ownership of Rail System Following Ohio Train Derailment

Railroad Staff United, which brings collectively members from 12 rail unions, has led the decision for nationalization.

The poisonous clouds that billowed up from a derailed freight prepare in Ohio earlier this month are a chilling metaphor for the poisonous greed that has contaminated so a lot of our massive firms.

After having to evacuate, residents of the city close to the derailment are cautiously going again dwelling, however they nonetheless don’t know the complete extent of the injury to the world’s surroundings and public well being.

The Norfolk Southern prepare was carrying harmful chemical substances, together with vinyl chloride, a extremely flammable carcinogen that’s extra dangerous than even ammonia and pure gasoline, according to federal regulations.

Following the derailment, locals have reported proof of the sudden death of fish and wildlife, along with individuals having problem respiration, numb limbs, and rashes, amongst different attainable physical symptoms from the chemical publicity.

Unions representing rail employees had warned of the potential of simply such a disaster.

In contract negotiations final 12 months, they denounced a enterprise mannequin often called “precision scheduled railroading,” which goals to spice up income by operating greater and quicker trains with smaller crews. The apply has even earned a nickname amongst rail employees: “positive shareholder reaction.” Mixed with an absence of assured sick pay, this created harmful circumstances for overworked rail workers.

The place have all of the income gone?

During the last three years, CEOs at 5 of the biggest railroad conglomerates raked in a staggering $200 million in compensation. Norfolk Southern and the six different largest U.S. freight railroad corporations additionally spent $191 billion on inventory buybacks and shareholder dividends between 2011 and 2021, making their rich executives and traders even richer.

And whereas railroad execs lined their very own pockets, their lobbyists advocated in opposition to stricter security guidelines. In 2017, after rail business donors gave Republicans federal regulators killed provisions requiring rail vehicles carrying hazardous supplies to have extra refined, quicker braking techniques.

This profit-driven method is clearly placing employees and communities at excessive danger. The truth is, the Ohio accident wasn’t even the one one this month. Days later in Houston, Texas, another train carrying hazardous supplies derailed, killing the motive force. Days after that incident, another Norfolk Southern prepare derailed, this time in southeastern Michigan.

These working the railroad have a easy resolution to this public menace: public possession. Railroad Staff United, which brings collectively members from 12 rail unions, has called for an finish to non-public company possession of the U.S. rail system, in addition to the built-in techniques in Mexico and Canada.

The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Staff of America (UE) has additionally known as for public possession, writing: “The railroad corporations can’t even be mentioned to be within the enterprise of shifting freight; they’re merely within the enterprise of utilizing their monopoly management over the nation’s rail infrastructure to squeeze as a lot revenue as attainable from prospects and employees on the behest of their Wall Road shareholders.”

The Ohio tragedy is a big, fiery alarm bell. We should always not tolerate the danger of getting grasping company executives run us off the rails. By means of public possession, this important infrastructure might really serve the general public good.

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