That members of Congress were willing to stand with union workers at Amtrak was vitally important in the days leading up to reaching agreement. All of the nine involved unions sent their best legislative representatives to Capitol Hill in the days preceding the negotiating sessions that resulted in the events of January 18. They took the case to as many of the nation’s legislators as possible in a “blitz” of activity, and the response from Senators and Members of the House of Representatives was strongly in our favor.
As an example of the way members of Congress extended themselves to help, here is a letter sent by Massachusetts Senator John Kerry to Amtrak’s CEO Alexander Kummant just a day before the tentative agreements were finalized. “After eight years of getting up every day and going to work without a contract, Amtrak’s employees have earned the right to do their jobs knowing that they’ll be treated fairly and equitably,” said Kerry when he learned agreement had been reached. ”This contract is a win for Amtrak, for its employees and for those who depend on trains to get where they need to go.”
To Kerry and to our many other congressional supporters, International President Bob Scardelletti had letters of thanks hand delivered on Tuesday, January 29. Among them are two—Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Representative James Oberstar (D-WI)—who drew particular acclaim because they came to Amtrak headquarters on January 18 to show their support in person. “Your strong words of support for Amtrak workers and their unions, in front of Amtrak’s management, were extremely impressive and clearly showed how genuine your support is for us,” President Scardelletti told them. “We now ask your continued support in achieving adequate funding for Amtrak in order to allow Amtrak to fulfill the back pay obligation to their employees.” Read the letter to Kennedy; read the letter to Oberstar.