FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TWU Contact: John Feltz, 732-567-5262
UNITE HERE Contact: Donald Boyd, 312-404-3526
TCU/IAM Contact: Jack Dinsdale, 661-204-6909
Survey Says: Amtrak Passengers Prefer Skilled, Trained Onboard Service Workers
Unions Call for Firing of Chief Executive Outsourcer Richard Anderson
On Monday, December 17, members of the Amtrak Service Workers Council (ASWC), comprising the Transportation Workers Union of America (TWU), UNITE HERE and Transportation Communications Union/IAM (TCU/IAM), Massachusetts State AFL-CIO President Steven Tolman, and allies gathered on the corner outside of South Station in Boston, releasing the results of a passenger survey and calling for the removal of Amtrak President Richard Anderson, better known as the Chief Executive Outsourcer.
“The responses from the survey prove what we have been saying all along: Amtrak passengers prefer freshly prepared food, are more comfortable riding with onboard service workers who are trained first responders. Amtrak should recognize that the success of our national rail system is due to the hard work of our dedicated members,” said TWU International Railroad Division Director John Feltz. “President Anderson has absolutely no concept of the work that we do, nor does he care. If he thinks he can toss away trained professionals like yesterday’s trash, perhaps the same should be done with him.”
Slash-and-burn CEO Anderson is hellbent on privatizing our national rail system. In June, Anderson cut full dining car service on the Lake Shore and Capitol Limited Lines. As a result of the service cuts, seven TWU chefs were furloughed.
“I’ve seen first-hand how this villain has degraded passenger services and wrecked employee morale by furloughing some of our onboard chefs,” said TWU Local 1460 President Amy Griffin. “What’s happening at Amtrak is just not right. It’s not right for workers. And it’s not right for passengers, who expect quality service when they ride the train.”
“We refuse to stand by and watch Anderson rip these jobs away from us,” said Donald Boyd, Secretary-Treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 43. “Our brothers and sisters have decades of dedicated service on the railroad. We will keep fighting until all careers are saved and full service to all lines is restored. United we stand.”
“Amtrak workers beware. It’s game time. This guys Anderson is coming for your jobs, your careers, your livelihood,” said Jack Dinsdale, National Vice President of TCU/IAM. “We’re seeing it in Riverside with our call center right now: 500 jobs are being eliminated and lives uprooted, just so Anderson can bust the union and outsource these jobs to a low-wage, non-union facility in Florida. And with this RFI, it appears on-board service is next.”
In August, Amtrak released a Request for Information (RFI), seeking outside vendors to replace approximately 1,700 onboard food and beverage service workers. Submissions are due Jan. 19, 2019. As a response, the ASWC put out our own “RFI” in the form of a passenger survey.
Between Sept. 28 and Nov. 24, 2018, 264 Amtrak passengers from across the country took the survey, which was distributed via Facebook and targeted toward users who showed an interest in Amtrak, trains and rail travel in general. The ad appeared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The survey asked respondents to say “YES” or “NO” to three statements:
- “When riding long-distance routes/lines, I would rather have/would prefer freshly prepared meals served in the dining car, not a packaged meal served in a box.” 98.1% said “YES”
- “I feel more comfortable riding Amtrak knowing that all onboard food service workers are trained first responders who know what to do in case of a medical or other emergency. I wouldn’t feel as confident riding the train knowing it was staffed by outside contractors.” 94.3% said “YES”
- “Amtrak’s great quality and service is due to the work of dedicated, trained employees with decades of rail service. These careers provided an entry to the middle-class. Amtrak shouldn’t be putting good quality jobs and service at risk by hiring inexperienced, likely low-paid contractors.” 94.3% said “YES”
In addition to the 264 who took the survey, Amtrak riders provided 180 separate comments, most lamenting the loss of hot, freshly served meals in the dining car and calling for the ouster of President Anderson. Comments included:
- “They are not really concerned with customer satisfaction. If that was the primary concern, along with safety, getting rid of employees and food service and actual humans at stations to assist the customer wouldn’t be the norm. Sad. Write your congressmen and senators if they’re not in cahoots.” Francine Forester
- “Absolutely opposed to the current “Fresh, contemporary menu selections” on the CL and LSL. I want to see 24/7 food service on every route.” Daniel Lilly
- “Outsourcing will not make it better. Only cheaper…people enjoy eating on the train. They look forward to the dining car. I have enjoyed it many times in the past.” Sharon Rogers Garrard Gamble
- “BRING BACK HOT FOOD ON ALL LONG-DISTANCE TRAINS! No one wants a cold box lunch. Passengers can bring their own cold box lunch. Amtrak is better than that, or at least they used to be…” Jeri McGee
- “Stop serving plastic food it is horrible!!!!” Scott Nelson
- “I hate Anderson, what he’s doing is unforgivable! Get Anderson fired from Amtrak RIGHT NOW!” Brian Falzon
- “This guy is bound and determined to destroy passenger service in America.” Mike Hutton
The ASWC is planning additional press conferences to take place in early 2019. We will not rest until all Amtrak onboard food and beverage careers are secured and full service is restored to all lines.
For updates, follow us on Facebook @AmtrakServiceWorkersCouncil and on Twitter @AmtrakCouncil.
Click here to view all the photos.
The Amtrak Service Workers Council (ASWC) comprises unions representing Amtrak service workers: The Transport Workers Union of America (TWU), UNITE HERE and Transportation Communications Union/IAM (TCU/IAM).