Amtrak Hearing, possible strike stalls

By Gus Bode

Amtrak officials say strike not way for public support

Amtrak’s nationwide service continued today with no picket lines to cross and no problems for travelers.

On Thursday, Amtrak union workers threatening to strike requested to postpone the hearing originally scheduled to take place Monday.


The hearing will now be at 10 a.m. Nov. 14 before a U.S. District Court judge. The hearing will include a request by Amtrak for a preliminary injunction granting permanent injunction to prevent the threatening unions from striking, according to Dan Stessel, spokesman for Amtrak in Washington.

“We’re still trying to convince them they are going about this the wrong way,” Stessel said.

The Railway Labor Act of 1926 was enacted as a way to keep the flow of commerce continuous without disruption from labor disputes. According to this act, it was passed to avoid any interruptions to commerce and operations. It also was a means of protecting an employee’s right to join a union. The unionization was key in preventing railroad workers from shutting down business.

According to Stessel, the act is designed “with no loopholes.”

But the threatening unions may be standing alone.

According to Stessel, as Amtrak continues to struggle financially, the way to build financial support is not to withhold service.

“The unions have a different approach,” Stessel said. ” One we feel is an illegal and ill-advised political protest. And their gripe is with Congress.”


The threatened strike comes after a proposed plan by the Bush administration in July. The plan, which took more than a year to be presented to Congress, would require states to assume responsibility for operating costs nationwide.

The administration suggested breaking Amtrak into three companies, privatizing much of the railroad and asking financially struggling states to pay the cost of the service for routes in the state.

During last year’s fiscal year, 54,842 people got on or off at the Carbondale service station. Carbondale ranked fourth in the most used stations in Illinois, falling shortly behind Bloomington/Normal. Carbondale is a stop on the Illini line and the New Orleans line.

Illinois Department of Transportation former spokesman Mike Monseur previously told the Daily Egyptian that if the proposal passes as is, Illinois students and members of small communities would feel negative effects.

“We feel the proposal, as is, would be very bad for Illinois and students and smaller areas,” Monseur said.