Shop Floor Discussion 6 – National Rail Strike w/Justin Roczniak

The potential for a national rail strike has been looming for a long time, and now that we have finally reached the point where one could actually happen, we decided we needed to have someone who knows a lot more about the railroads than we do on the show to help explain the situation. We were very excited to be joined by Justin Roczniak from Well There’s Your Problem to bring us historical analysis of the long road to where we are today. We discuss the history of how the railroads have operated in the US, how the national freight network has been shaped by the profit motive, and how rail executives have let the entire national rail network decay in pursuit of maximum dividends. This history sets the stage for the current crisis, where companies have merged into a few mega-carriers with no real competition, and “precision scheduled railroads” have slashed rail crews and stretched their existing employees to the breaking point. We summarize the long labor process to get to this point demanded by the Railway Labor Act, and what we might see in terms of a potential long term outcome of the current dispute. With a national strike possible as soon as this Friday, we hope this discussion provides some helpful background to understand what state the railroads are in, how they got that way, and the roots of the horrific working conditions rail workers are fighting against.

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