Black Shirt Friday for all Railroaders
Although the day has passed this is something that we should always keep
Caucus of Concerned Rail Workers Called
for Observance of a "Black Shirt Friday" June 19
Mother's Day. UTU Conductor Jared Boehlke was killed in the line of duty while working RCO alone in Selkirk, NY. A few
days later, BRS signal maintainer John Pichalski, Jr. was killed in Middletown, Pa. while repairing a damaged railroad crossing.
His death brought the total for 2009 to twelve.
At the end of March, the
Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued an appeal to all railroad organizations and employees for help in stemming this
disastrous record. The FRA letter said in part, "If a culture exists whereby workers feel
they are put in situations where they are making poor decisions for fear of losing their jobs, we must work together to change
this culture. The elimination of fatalities, injuries, and accidents depends upon it. "
Railroad Workers United (RWU), a cross craft,
inter-union caucus for rail workers agrees with the FRA that something must be done to change the current situation. For over
a year now, RWU has actively campaigned for a safety approach that would put eliminating hazards first and foremost on the
safety agenda for the nation’s railroads. Unfortunately, the rail carriers have continued to emphasize worker behavior
over hazard elimination. As a result, the carriers tend to downplay, overlook, or ignore altogether the problems and hazards
that are created by management practices. Job cutbacks, job combination, and massive layoffs have left too many rail employees
working without the extra support and assistance needed in places like dangerous classification yards where Jared Boehlke
met his death.
Railroad Workers United is asking its members and supporters across the U.S. -- and all rail workers
that hear this call -- to wear a black shirt on Friday, June 19, the Friday of Father's Day weekend. RWU hopes that this relatively
modest action will play a role in putting to en end any “culture” as the FRA described it where "workers feel
they are put in situations where they are making poor decisions for fear of losing their jobs."
Furthermore, RWU urges
all of rail labor to consider officially demarcating Father's Day Friday in the future, “Railroad Workers Memorial Day”,
a day when all rail workers remember our brothers and sisters who have lost their lives working in the unforgiving railroad