"CONGRESS STANDS GUILTY OF COWARDICE"
"CONGRESS STANDS GUILTY OF COWARDICE" WASHINGTON, June 26 /PRNewswire/ -- The following statement was
made today by Ronald E. Wiggins, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers general chairman of the General Committee of Adjustment on Amtrak Amtrak, the National Railroad Passenger Corp., authorized to operate virtually all intercity passenger railroad routes in the United States. Amtrak was created by Congress in 1970 in response to more than two decades of continuous operating deficits by privately run . Wiggins is the chief negotiator for Amtrak engineers:
"In the early morning hours of June 24th, the nation's rail freight carriers declared economic warfare on their workers and the American people. They loaded their powerful economic gun and pointed it squarely at the heads of each and every one of us. By passing the legislation it did last night, the Congress stands guilty of cowardice under fire. In the process, Congress quietly executed a death sentence on genuine collective bargaining in the railroad industry. Let there be no mistake; no matter what contracts result from the process created by the legislation, the railroads have won. They stared Congress in the eye, and Congress blinked. We now know that the railroads will be able to get their way simply by taking the American economy hostage. In the late 1800s Cornelius Vanderbilt said, 'The public be damned.' Today he smiles in Robber Baron Heaven. The industry not only did it with muscle, they did it with a disinformation campaign that the KGB would admire. Burlington Northern operated truck trains yesterday. The media hid that fact from the American people, and the Congress didn't bother to consider it. Conrail supervision shifted a Budweiser plant in Syracuse, New York on Wednesday. Again, the media hid that fact from the American people, and the Congress didn't bother to consider it. To those who posture as friends of labor, you have brought home to me the meaning of the adage, 'A friend in need is a friend in deed.' Your betrayal of American railroad workers will be neither forgotten nor forgiven. To our true friends, those who have remained true to a free labor movement, I can only say that if your numbers matched your heart, this dispute would have turned out differently. I also find it ironic-if not especially surprising-that the 1988 'Law and Order' presidential candidate has looked the other way while the American Association of Railroads engaged in their illegal conspiracy in the restraint of trade. The chief law enforcement officer, Attorney General Barr-in dereliction of his oath to uphold the laws of the United States-failed to require the Interstate Commerce Commission to order the carriers to fulfill their duty as a common carrier and resume operation. It's a shame that the administration that squashed Panama and Iraq did not dare to move against the wishes of their patrons in the board rooms of America's railroads. Finally, the legislation enacted leaves me with a deep-seated fear. The major lesson of South-Central Los Angeles this past May is that when a group of people has been disenfranchised, they will reach a point where they demonstrate, in unmistakable terms, that they no longer feel compelled to submit to authority. By abolishing the right to strike and emasculating genuine collective bargaining, the legislation has disenfranchised railroad workers. And, by giving President Bush the right to veto a settlement, they have given him a police baton. If this process turns my members into 'Rodney Kings,' I fear the result will be far worse than if the Congress had exercised courage last night." -0- 6/26/92 /CONTACT: Ronald E. Wiggins of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers at Amtrak, 609-488-7432/ CO: Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers ST: Washington IN: SU:
LC -- CL007 -- 4344 06/26/92 16:27 EDT EDT
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