(Source: Progressive Railroading 09/08/2020)
Amtrak last week announced plans to furlough 1,950 workers and cut 100 management positions due to contracted operations and pinched finances.
For several weeks, the railroad conducted a thorough review of its fiscal-year 2021 operating plan and planned service levels, which revealed reduced staffing needs for the next fiscal year, Amtrak officials said in a prepared statement.
“While we have implemented initiatives to minimize the number of furloughs and involuntary separations, significant reductions remain necessary due to the slow recovery of ridership and revenue,” they said.
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen (BLET) leaders are urging members to ask their U.S. senators to adequately fund Amtrak, provided the railroad maintains full daily services to prevent the nearly 2,000 job cuts. The furloughs will impact about 400 BLET members.
“Earlier this summer, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Moving Forward Act, which would have tripled Amtrak funding to nearly $29 billion,” BLET officials said in a press release. “It conditioned the extra funding on Amtrak maintaining service levels no lower than in 2019, and bars furloughs.”
The layoffs are unacceptable and avoidable, said Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO officials in a statement.
“Congress must immediately provide this carrier with the funding it needs to preserve its operations and keep its employees on payroll. If lawmakers fail to do so, Amtrak won’t stop at 2,000 jobs,” they said. “The carrier could ultimately lay off nearly 50 percent of its staff, leaving communities in both urban and rural areas without a vital transportation lifeline, and sending 10,000 workers to the unemployment line.”
Meanwhile, Amtrak last week also announced a new partnership with Lysol maker RB that will help strengthen disinfection protocols for trains, stations and lounges. The protocols first will launch in Northeast Corridor stations and Pacific Surfliner trains before expanding across Amtrak’s network.
RB will supply Amtrak with disinfection solutions, including those proven to be effective against the SARS-CoV2 virus that causes COVID-19. The products will be used in high-touch and high-traffic areas where germs are most prevalent.