Animation Mark Fiore Original

Mark Fiore: Fast Track to the Gilded Age (Video)

Republicans and Democrats in Congress recently joined together to force rail workers to accept a contract with exactly zero paid sick days and one measly “personal day.” Thanks to the 1926 Railway Labor Act, lawmakers sided with (surprise, surprise!) multibillion dollar rail corporations instead of workers.

If you’re like me, you may have thought of freight rail companies as somewhat quaint and antiquated. Wrong. It’s big business that has been dramatically changed by activist investors — and is raking in record profits. While corporations and investors are cleaning up, the people that actually work the rails are getting increasingly squeezed.

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Sure, they make decent money, but conditions sound brutal. CEOs overseeing a small handful of rail companies that made $21 billion in the first nine months of this year were willing to blow up the U.S. economy rather than shell out $321 million for 7 paid sick days for their workers. Sounds like good ol’ fashioned railroad baron greed to me.

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