BLE, Rail Labor Seek to Block Amtrak Reform Council

WASHINGTON -- The following was released on January 22 by the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO:

The Amtrak Reform Council (ARC) has "acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner and contrary to law," eleven AFL-CIO rail unions representing the vast majority of workers in the passenger and freight rail industry today charged in a suit filed in federal district court. The effort, coordinated by the Rail Labor Division (RLD) of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), seeks an injunction to bar the ARC from filing an unlawful report to Congress that will inappropriately call for Amtrak's break-up in defiance of the ARC's explicit statutory mandate.

"Instead of providing an objective assessment of Amtrak's operations and finances as Congress intended, the ARC has long pursued an ideological agenda to dismember and then sell-off Amtrak to private interests," said RLD Chair Mark Filipovic. "We've long known that the ARC is a rogue group wasting taxpayers' dollars to achieve a result Americans do not want. But in the last few months the ARC has taken its self-appointed missionary zeal to new, and illegal, extremes."

Specifically, the suit filed in the U.S.
District Court for the District of Columbia, contends that the ARC:

-- In violation of the law, did not take into account the actual assessments of an independent consultant and the Department of Transportation's Inspector General when formulating its recommendation to Congress.

-- Acted in "excess of its authority" by recommending the break-up of Amtrak as a national system, when it was legally mandated to offer a plan for a "restructured" national intercity passenger rail system.

-- Was structured in violation of the Constitutional requirement for separation of powers since it performs a function that is "executive in nature" because the Council, with eight of its 11 members appointed by Congress, "finds" that Amtrak will not be operationally self-sufficient and that finding begins a process where Amtrak must prepare a liquidation plan, and Congress must act on an expedited schedule to approve changes to Amtrak or to disapprove its liquidation. Additionally, after the ARC's finding a vote on liquidation would occur through a joint resolution of Congress, and that would violate the requirements of Article I of the Constitution in how legislation is presented to the President.

"Congress has for good reason repeatedly voted to curb the funding and the work of the ARC," said Sonny Hall, president of the TTD, the RLD's parent organization. "But by flaunting the law, the ARC keeps muddying up what should be a healthy national debate about passenger rail in this country. The courts can now complete the job that Congress started - to reign in the ARC and stop it from ignoring its congressional mandate."

The plaintiffs in the suit are the Rail Labor Division of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO; the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes; The Transport Workers Union of America: the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers; the Transportation-Communications International Union; the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers; the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen; the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers, SEIU; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; the Sheet Metal Workers International Association; the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers; the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union; and the American Train Dispatchers Department, BLE.

The RLD is a division of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, whose 34 member unions represent several million workers in the aviation, rail, transit, trucking, highway, longshore, maritime and related industries. For more information, see