Norfolk Southern: Concede to Railroad Workers’ Demands & Clean up East Palestine!

Atlanta DSA and YDSA GT Call on Norfolk Southern to Fully Fund East Palestine Cleanup, Compensate Residents and Meet Railroad Workers’ Demands!

For centuries, railroad companies like Norfolk Southern have prioritized profits for the capitalist class over the health and safety of their workers and the general public. Railroad workers endure notoriously brutal workplace conditions, are often expected to work on-call around the clock, and frequently suffer fatal accidents due to overwork and exhaustion. Meanwhile, as profits for billionaire shareholders rise, companies like Norfolk Southern continue to lobby in favor of industry deregulation and cutting corners – resulting in the slashing of maintenance, staffing, and equipment inspections as average train sizes increase – proving they see railroad workers as expendable.

In response to this exploitation, a majority of railroad workers nationwide rose up this past fall to reject an inadequate union contract which excluded crucial demands like sick leave and an end to Precision Scheduled Railroading. While workers prepared to strike, U.S. government officials invoked the antiquated Railroad Labor Act (RLA) to deny over 100,000 railroad workers the right to strike and tyrannically impose the unacceptable contract. Atlanta DSA and YDSA GT stand in full solidarity with the railroad workers, who continue to fight for better working conditions and reject Congress’s blatant labor rights violations.

Decades of deregulation have culminated in the derailment of multiple trains over the last month – including the horrendous incident on February 3rd during which a Northfolk Southern 32N train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, leading to a fire and subsequent evacuation of thousands of residents. This derailment was neither an “accident” nor “unavoidable”, as the Northfolk Southern executives would have you believe. On the contrary, this violent wreck – which endangered working people, contaminated drinking water, and even led to mass death of local wildlife – was the direct result of capitalist deregulation, attacks on workers’ rights, and the valuation of profits over the environment and human life. 

Atlanta DSA and YDSA GT join Railroad Workers United in calling for the immediate action of regulatory agencies and Congress to rein in Class One railroad corporations and pass legislation to place railroads under public ownership.

Additionally, we demand the following of Norfolk Southern, which is headquartered in Atlanta: 

  1. Fund a massive clean up effort in the area around East Palestine to ensure no further damage is done to human health and the surrounding environment and watershed. 
  2. Fully compensate every resident of the East Palestine area harmed by the derailment.
  3. End the harmful business model known as Precision Scheduled Railroading, and ensure sufficient staffing in all crafts, with all trains operating crews of two people minimum.
  4. Implement adequate maintenance and inspections of locomotives and rail cars, tracks and signals, wayside detectors, and cap train length and weight at a reasonable level.
  5. Concede to the demands of railroad workers – guaranteeing them training, sick leave, adequate time off work, and an end to draconian attendance policies.
  6. Terminate all lobbying practices aimed at abolishing or blocking safety rules and regulations that will help make the railroad safer.
  7. Divest from the Atlanta Police Foundation and withdraw all support from the Atlanta police facility known as Cop City.

Further, we call on the Georgia Institute of Technology to cut ties with Norfolk Southern and its Board of Directors until it meets the above demands and ceases its attack on workers’ rights, destruction of the environment, and violence towards working people.

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