Tentative railway labor agreement reached, averting strike

Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 5:55 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A crisis was tentatively averted after railroad unions across the country came to an agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor to avoid a strike. Among the agreed conditions, workers will get a raise and can now take unpaid days off for appointments without being penalized.

Activist and labor movement expert Martez Files says people still need to understand the core of the movements to avoid them

“Labor history is complex and complicated, like all histories,” said Files.

He uses slavery and the Montgomery Bus Boycott as examples of unfair labor conditions and a successful strike.

“They’re speaking back about their treatment. They’re often speaking back about their wages. They’re often speaking back about truly the freedom and the autonomy to move through the world in a way that they need,” said Files.

If the needs of union workers aren’t met, strikes follow. And the shutdown of one industry impacts many others.

“We’ve really averted a huge nightmare,” said Rick Pate, the commissioner of the Alabama Department of Agriculture.

A shutdown of the railroads would be a $2 billion loss per day for the county. In Alabama, the agriculture industry would experience a major disruption. Pate says timber is one of the many products that travel the state’s railways.

“Eggs every week are being hatched and little chicks are going out. And there’s no way to have a break in that system,” said Pate.

With the avoided strike, the industries don’t have to be as on edge. However, Files says people still should be.

“Build solidarity with folks in the commons with folks who need that type of support, because you too if you look around are an exploited labor source,” said Files.

Files added that people should not get frustrated with laborers, but at the conditions, they are protesting.

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