For immediate release
April 24, 2019
rgumpert [at] unitehere [dot] org
Don’t Derail America: Coalition of Labor Unions, Congress Members, Unites to Demand Investments, Save Service & Rural Routes
Chicago, IL – Today, standing in front of a banner that reads, “Amtrak: Get Back on Track, Don’t Derail America,” a coalition of labor and major federal political leaders rallied at Chicago’s Union Station demanding that Amtrak invest in and build America’s vital rail infrastructure—not dismantle it.
“America is a grand nation deserving of a grand railway system to move its people and its commerce across all fifty states,” said D. Taylor, president of UNITE HERE, the union that represents food service workers aboard Amtrak trains. “The United States was built on the back of a rail system that brought us together. Now we have leadership at Amtrak and in the White House that is moving in the opposite direction, seeking to defund and derail America and disconnect large segments of our population from each other. It is a disgrace and must be stopped, turned around, and put back on track.”
Speaking at Wednesday’s call to action were Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. Jesus Garcia (D-IL), Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL), UNITE HERE Local 23 Amtrak Division President Donald Boyd, Transport Workers Union officials John Feltz and Jack Dinsdale, and dozens of UNITE HERE Local 23 Amtrak workers.
The public call for increased Amtrak funding comes on the heels of the Trump Administration’s 2020 budget, which proposes both a 52% reduction in federal grants for Amtrak and “restructuring” the rail system’s Long-Distance network in a move that would strand riders on rural routes in the South and Midwest. Stops in smaller towns face the greatest risk for service termination or change.
In June 2018, Amtrak eliminated dining car service provided by UNITE HERE members on the Lakeshore Limited route along the southern shore of the Great Lakes between Chicago and New York City, and on the Capitol Limited route, which connects Chicago to Washington, D.C. via Pennsylvania, Indiana and Ohio. In 2018, Amtrak removed staff and closed the ticket window at Cincinnati’s Union Station. Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown (D) and Rob Portman (R), who represent constituents in five stops along both routes, campaigned against the service cuts at the time. Congressmembers of both political parties, including those in electoral swing districts, represent constituents facing service termination or service reduction under the Trump budget.
UNITE HERE represents over 270,000 members working in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation, and airport industries in the U.S. and Canada. Learn more at www.unitehereimmigration.org