Exchange between Jon Flanders and Bernie Wool

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon Nov 1 07:36:40 MST 1999


  With all respect, I think Louis unsubbed you for straying into unpleasant
personal innuendo. He's taken a hard line on that in the past.

  At any rate, it's his list, he pays for it, and can do what he wants with
it. It's not a free speech issue. Granted he has no great affection for
your politics. If you want to get back on, I would recommend communicating
with him personally, with the promise to refrain from such remarks in the
the future.

  Now, as to your comment about the need for rail workers to go beyond
simple wage and retirement demands. That sounds good, and is standard issue
marxist doctrine. It's something to be striven for, for sure.

  However, from my perspective, as a grunt in the trenches if you will,
it's damned amazing how far we have come on this 55 retirement issue
already. We are talking about workers in an industry who have been
demoralized by years of setbacks; governed by a dictatorial act of
government that works very well to create an atmosphere of hopelessness for
any kind of national struggle. You will forgive me if I then throw myself
into this 55 thing as a critical step in moving matters forward a bit. And
keep in mind that the French truck drivers shut the country down for weeks
over this very issue.

   I am ccing all this to Louis, for his information, and list publication
if he sees fit. You can find more information about US rail labor on the
web page I set up for my local at:

   ">LL1145 Webpage</A>

   Jon Flanders



I had sent a couple of comments on your two recent posts.  Since Proyect
unsubbed me for responding to his ad hominem comments and gratuitous
abuse by M.Jones by making fun of both of them, you will probably not
have seen them.  Here they are.


Although US rail transport is quite different from that in Europe, with
the dominant source of revenue there and passengers here, the owners' drive
for increased productivity is the same.  Greater pressures on crews and
maintenance staff conspire to threaten safety.  The recent disaster on Gt
involving inbound and outbound trains near Paddington in London, and an
almost identical crash two years back, stem directly from single-manning and a
slowing down of investment on safety equipment - both trains shot reds (if
they showed) and were on the same track with a closure speed around 80 to 100
mph. At least 30 were killed, and due to one carriage burning out of control,
the death-toll is still not certain.

Within hours of the crash, items were being spread through the media that
the inbound driver was seen with his feet on the dashboard, and rumours abound
about widespread ignoring of track-side and in-cab warnings.  I am not sure
if ASLEF (UK drivers union) is mounting a campaign against the rail companies
together with passengers' associations, around the issues that Jonathan
posts, but surely such an alliance is a must.  It raises all sorts of
that go beyond the wages struggle, and that of retirement age/length of

Can Jonathan post anything regarding any moves among US railworkers that
cover the whole transport issue, and that link railworkers to other sections?
That strikes by US railworkers were outlawed 70 years ago is surprising news
over here.


Jonathan Flanders wrote:

> The call for national informational picketing on the age 55 retirement
> issue for US railworkers is a significant development.(See below).
> It comes at a time when the Class 1 railroads are either completing or in
> the midst of massive mergers and takeovers.
> For the past twenty years, restructuring of the industry created immense
> job losses, reducing the work force from close to 500,000 to less than
> 200,000. The rail corporations voice, the Association of American
> Railroads, boasts of labor productivity gains of over 200%.
> As might be expected, the lot of the remaining workers does not mirror the
> rosy picture of expanding revenue and profits by the carriers. Wages have
> stagnated, while working conditions deteriorated, with train crews reduced
> to a cabooseless two, and maintenance workers working ever longer weeks to
> make up for staff shortages.
> <<

Louis Proyect

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