Meeting on January 28 and 29, UE’s General Executive Board unanimously endorsed a statement demanding that Congress “immediately begin a process of bringing our nation’s railroads under public ownership.” The statement notes that “the private owners of our nation’s Class 1 railroads have shown themselves utterly incapable of facing the challenge of the climate crisis, dealing fairly with their own workers, or even meeting the most basic needs of their customers.”

Local 1177 President Larry Hopkins, a rail crew driver for Hallcon in Chicago, pointed out that the refusal of the railroads to upgrade their locomotives impacts the health of workers like him who work in the rail yards. “They need to replace a lot of the old yard locomotives that are in there,” he said, because the pollutants they emit are “very toxic to the air. As rail crew drivers, we’re being exposed to the toxins.”