Amtrak announces significant layoffs

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RENSSELAER, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Amtrak is set to cut 1,950 members and 100 management positions. According to a media relations spokesperson for Amtrak, based on a review of their fiscal operating plan and planned service levels for 2021, significant reductions in staffing will be necessary. 

Amtrak Media Relations released the following statement:

“For the past several weeks, Amtrak has conducted a thorough review of our FY 2021 operating plan, as well as our planned service levels for next year. Based on this review, we have identified our staffing needs for next year. While we have implemented initiatives to minimize the number of furloughs and involuntary separations, significant reductions remain necessary due to the slow recovery of ridership and revenue. Approximately 1,950 agreement team members will be furloughed and approximately 100 management positions will be involuntary separated over the coming weeks.”

John Feltz, the International Vice President and Railroad Division Director for the Transport Workers Union of America, told News10, to his understanding the cuts will be effective on October first. “They haven’t given us a number as far as state to state or location to location right now. Amtrak is trying to determine how many trains they’re going to annul and that’s what it’s going to be based on,” said Feltz.

While a wide range of positions will be cut including conductors and engineers, Feltz represents the on-board service workers, those who work in the dining cars and cafes. He said about seven hundred of them will be cut across the country. “God forbid there’s a derailment or medical emergency of any sort on the train. They are the first responders on that train. They are trained in first aid and evacuation. They’ve been given some training on how to watch out for terrorists,” said Feltz.

He said they’ve also been the workers responsible for disinfecting the trains as passengers get on and off throughout the pandemic. “So this is what Amtrak is now subjecting the riding public to,” said Feltz.

Not only that, he said the cuts will have a direct impact on service. “Right now their long distance trains, what was a seven day a week operation, they’re down to three days. The Northeast Coordinator which runs from Vermont all the way down to Washington D.C. They’re going to cut even more trains than they have already. You’re going to have a lot less trains running and they will be running on a more infrequent schedule,” said Feltz.

Feltz said many of his members have been dedicated to Amtrak for years and worked throughout the pandemic, risking their own health, making sure passengers felt protected. “Oh you have people who have been working there for twenty, twenty-five, some people thirty years or more. They have all jeopardized their own health, their family’s health and well-being with this COVID virus,” said Feltz.

He added that Amtrak could have done this in a way to minimize the cut to union workers. “When you look at the overall picture, there are going to be 1,950 union workers being furloughed while Amtrak is going to furlough only 100 managers. So that’s not a very good ratio,” said Feltz.

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