As a renewed wave of worker activism sweeps the country, the leaders of 33 transportation unions focused on ways to improve the lives of working families by creating and protecting middle-class transportation jobs, investing in infrastructure, and enhancing on-the-job safety during the Executive Committee meeting of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD).
The gathering, comes as teachers in Chicago march for smaller class sizes and greater resources, transit workers in Virginia protest unfair labor practices, workers across the transportation industry fight for more funding, improved safety, and fair contracts, and just days after 50,000 UAW members ratified a new contract, ending the longest automotive strike in 50 years.
“There is a reason people are taking to the streets and fighting for their rights at a rate we haven’t seen in decades. Workers today are fed up with unsafe working conditions, an economy that favors the wealthy, and infrastructure that struggles to meet basic needs,” said TTD president Larry I. Willis. “By fighting for policies that keep our transportation system well-funded, safe, and a creator of good jobs, we can grow the middle class and help rebalance our economy in favor of working families.”
Transportation labor leaders called for robust investments in surface transportation, passenger rail, and our nation’s seaports that put working people first. They vowed to uphold fair trade rules that govern the aviation industry, and mitigate fatigue among cargo pilots. Union leaders are also taking a strong stand against a dangerous, Wall-Street backed business model that threatens good jobs and safety in the freight rail industry.
TTD’s Executive Committee discussed these and other priorities with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
“A safe, efficient transportation system is a source of pride, a hallmark of American freedom, and the fuel that drives our economy,” Fitzpatrick said. “I look forward to working with TTD and its 33 unions to find common-sense solutions to our most pressing transportation challenges.”
“Something is wrong when corporate profits go up and CEO pay soars, but wages for working people barely budge,” Brown said. “You can’t say you’re for workers individually if you aren’t willing to stand with workers collectively. I am proud to stand with transportation labor as we fight together to put power back in the hands of working people.”
Transportation union leaders also discussed a new report that shows how the relatively affordable and convenient service found in the ride-hailing industry is based on a business model that exploits workers and undermines the goals of public transportation. The report finds that companies like Uber, Lyft, and Via artificially drive down prices by misclassifying their drivers as independent contractors, trapping them in low-wage, no benefit positions, avoiding regulation, and relying on massive subsidies from private capital.
“Anyone who works for a living deserves fair wages, safe working conditions, and the ability to retire with dignity,” said TTD Secretary-Treasurer Greg Regan. “Transportation labor is committed to fighting for policies that will uphold these basic civil liberties and enhance the rights of working people everywhere.”