Chairman James L. Oberstar's comments from today's Amtrak hearing

Opening Statement on Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials

Hearing On “Amtrak’s Strategic Initiatives"

June 12, 2007

"Before I yield back, I want to briefly mention my concern with the current deadlock
between Amtrak management and labor over a renewed contract. Most Amtrak
workers have not had a new contract with Amtrak since 1999. They are working at
wage levels that are just $1.70 more than they were in 1999. Mr. Kummant, you
testified before this subcommittee last September that resolving this dispute was
one of your highest priorities. Yet eight months later, there has been no change in
the situation. I would like you to provide the Subcommittee with an update on what
is going on with the negotiations and what Amtrak is doing to resolve them. "

Oberstar has been a leading defender of the rights of rail workers to collective bargaining rights and fair treatment in the wake of railroad mergers. Both in 1995, when the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995 was under consideration, and in 1997, when the Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act of 1997 was under consideration, he played the lead role in protecting the interests of rail workers against unfair changes in their collective bargaining rights. Both of these bills were amended on the House floor at Oberstar's behest to protect the interests of rail labor.