Amtrak Wants to Lay Off 1,700 Employees
The train company wants to outsource food to pre-packaged, non-union contractors
Angry food and beverage workers greeted commuters at train stations around the country on Monday. They were protesting a proposal by Amtrak to outsource food and beverage services.
According to the Amtrak Service Workers Council, which represents three of the unions that have a collective bargaining agreement with Amtrak, 1,700 jobs could be at stake if the company decides to outsource these positions. This move is part of a larger initiative to replace freshly made food with cheaper pre-packaged choices. In June, a similar move on the Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited resulted in 14 chef positions being eliminated.
At a press conference outside of Boston’s South Station, union officials said Amtrak President Richard Anderson is attempting to privatize the national rail system. Amtrak is a public corporation, meaning that it operates as a for-profit company that receives both federal and state subsidies. Before Anderson became President of Amtrak, he was the chief executive of Delta Airlines. As passengers got off of trains in South Station, union members handed them flyers with Anderson in a chef’s hat saying “All Aboard the Cold Cut Express.”
“He’s turning middle-class jobs into low-class junk jobs,” said John Feltz, railroad division director for the Transport Workers Union of America. Feltz also pointed out that these 1,700 employees not only serve food but are also trained in CPR, First Aid, and emergency procedures. Especially on long distance lines, an emergency could happen in a location that is not easily accessible by first responders.
Watch the full press conference below.