New York – Across the nation, financially strapped public transit systems are cancelling routes and cutting hours of operation, while raising fares. These cutbacks are creating an extreme hardship for those dependent on public busses and trains and an economic strain on communities all across America as well as slowing the nation’s economic recovery.
Today, leaders of transportation unions representing more than one million transit workers will be joined by civil rights leaders including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, local elected leaders and representatives of community and environmental groups to launch a national campaign, “Keep America Moving” with the goal of redirecting a portion of federal stimulus dollars and transportation funds from capital projects toward underwriting operating costs at local transit agencies.
WHO: Rev. Jesse Jackson, ATU President Warren S. George, TWU International President James C. Little, TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen, other labor community, civil rights and elected leaders
WHAT: Announcement of national campaign “Keep America Moving”
WHEN: 5 p.m., Wed., March 31, 2010
WHERE: Outside Penn Station, 7th Ave. at 34th Street, New York City
“Here in New York, tax revenues are down and state funding is being cut,” said TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen. “MTA is using hundreds of millions in Federal stimulus dollars for long range construction projects, meanwhile we’re kicking schoolchildren off our trains and busses to save money – this doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
Warren S. George, President of the Amalgamated Transit Union added, “It’s not just New York. In Washington for example, Metro may end weekend subway service at midnight, which will hurt restaurants, theaters and other entertainment businesses and their employees. It will also put more bar patrons behind the wheel of their own cars. Cuts in the D.C. area now stretch commuting time for some workers from what was once a matter of minutes to hours because of the cancellation of bus routes. It’s not right, with redirected federal money we can do better.”
The federal government currently allocates 82 percent of transportation dollars toward highway projects. The federal stimulus programs created in 2009 sharply limit dollars that may be directed toward operating costs. Earlier this month, at an ATU legislative conference, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood backed the idea of releasing more federal funds to defray operating costs at local transit agencies.
Jerry Brown, a professor at Florida International University and the editor of the online publication Green Labor Journal said, “We talk about green jobs, about reducing our dependency on foreign oil, about getting people out of their cars and then we cut public transportation. We don’t need new money; we just need to redirect money already set aside for transportation. Congress needs to act now before it’s too late.”
Founding partners of Keep America Moving are the 190,000 –member Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) representing transit workers in 44 states and nine Canadian provinces and the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU) represents 200,000 workers and retirees, primarily in commercial aviation, public transportation and passenger railroads. Both unions are affiliates of the AFL-CIO.
For further information contact:
Jamie Horwitz 202/549-4921
Roger Kerson 734/645-0535