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Unions put the brakes on rail deal

by Dara Kam | November 27th, 2009

Next week’s special session to prove the state’s commitment to commuter rail could go nowhere without concessions to unions.

Senate President Jeff Atwater is trying to round up support for a Central Florida commuter line by linking it to a financial fix for the flailing Tri-Rail to draw down federal money for a third project, a high-speed line linking Tampa, Orlando and Miami.

The bill’s been negotiated by House and Senate leaders and the governor’s office behind closed doors throughout the month.

But Atwater’s ability to pass the measure in the Senate could hinge on two key Democratic senators: Democratic Leader Al Lawson of Tallahassee and Tony Hill of Jacksonville.

The labor unions were part of a coalition that killed the Central Florida SunRail deal despite backing from powerful GOP lawmakers and Gov. Charlie Crist.

Now the unions are pressuring Lawson and Hill to oppose the measure that is expected to include a provision that would allow SunRail to operate without union workers and do away with some Tri-Rail union jobs.

It might be hard for Lawson and Hill to turn their backs on the unions next week.

A union endorsement would help Lawson in his campaign against incumbent U.S. Rep. Allan Boyd, a long-serving Democrat from outside Tallahassee who earned the wrath of the unions by voting against the health care reform package.

And the congressional district Lawson’s trying to win is home to thousands of state workers, who typically vote in elections.

Hill, a longshoreman and union organizer, is considered organized labor’s go-to-guy in the legislature.

The draft legislation is a departure from what the unions had agreed to in principle earlier in the month, according to a draft document obtained by The Palm Beach Post.

But a revision last week amounts to “government-enabled union busting,” according to a press release issued by the AFL-CIO today.

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22 Responses to “Unions put the brakes on rail deal”

  1. screwunion Says:

    Screw Unions.. they have screwed this country and keep screwing this country turning it into a cesspool of malice ad greed!

    I am a low middle class worker and I believe in the rights of workers to strike and right to work; but Unions are controlled by Maffia, Communists and special groups.
    To solve the problem: amendment to constitution with rights for all workers!

  2. Sally Newberry Says:

    Hill and Lawson need to get all of the Democrats on board to vote down this horrible deal for the third time. It keeps coming back to the Legislature, and although they have voted it down twice, they are trying once again to bring the expensive, bad deal train back for one last show down. Between the unions needing job protection, the outrageous liability demands of CSX, the large sum or money that Florida taxpayers will pay upfront to a for-profit company, the burden that will be placed on Floridians should there be an accident and the back room, secret dealings, this is the most horrible and corrupt deal that Florida has probably ever seen. We do not need to be wasting any more taxpayer dollars
    bringing them to Tallahassee when they don’t have the votes for this and probably never will.

  3. Nick Says:

    There has been a need for unions, but they have gone too far.

    As long as working conditions are safe and reasonable the craziness of unions need to stop. They are breaking the backs of America.

  4. Good Citizen Bill Says:

    Support the Union movement.

  5. Co-Ruption Says:

    I for one do not believe things actually begin with ill conceived notions in the minds of the organizers. When folks were working the docks for 35 cents a day and Hoffa come along and got them more money and a little respect that was a good thing. However, as with any pecking order the bigger the pecker, the more the demands. Florida is a right to work state. Meaning workers can stand on their own two feet and refuse to join the union and still have a job. I don’t care the reason the unions are against this boondoggle we the taxpayers can’t afford. Even in the case of the unions (of which I have never joined one) my saying has always been; the enemy of my enemy is my friend. I accept their help and the help of any persons or organizations that will come forward and help us defeat this monstrosity that we do not need and can not afford. We are watching every politician that supports this effort. They will be defeated at re-election time. You can write that on the outhouse wall. We are tired of this crap. It is over politicians, if you like your cozy paycheck and your free health insurance and all those other freebies you think you are getting legally, go ahead put you name on this one and watch the millions flow to your opponents in the next election.

  6. proud to be union Says:

    weekends and the middle class are products of united work forces. if companies did the right thing there would not be a need for unions. but guess what?

  7. ERIC QUINN Says:

    Unions are the only way workers dont get screwed over! Ya Ya i know right to work state bla bla fact of the matter is that with a union they keep jobs here in america to us the AMERICAN people!!!!

  8. J.S. Says:

    God, Floridians are so scared of the government spending money and the corresponding tax dollars. One thing you guys have got to get through your head is that, if we don’t invest in our state, Florida will go nowhere. Think of the jobs, the new high-tech businesses in support of the new train system, and the new viability of tourism with the ease of transit. This puts Florida in a position that has opportunity, new ways to grow, and reflects the demands of a changing world. Don’t get your panties in a bind every time you hear the ‘t’ word. Besides, we’re getting this at steal with all the federal money that would initiate the project. And screw unions, they always ruin things thinking about their own fat selves, take a look at Detroit.

  9. JD Says:

    To all you idiots that hate unions
    remember this ( TOGETHER WE STAND,
    DIVIDED WE FALL) Republicans are against
    unions because they can not control
    people who stick together. Do we want
    a dictator?

  10. James Says:

    This 3 billion doallr bailout for developers and freight is not about high speed rail, high tech rail or unions. Its a 61 mile rail buy. for 3 billion .See the number $3,000,000,000.00 No one will use it and even FDOT reports say it wont put a single Flroidian not already using mass transit onto the train!! ITs a bailout plain and simple!!

  11. Citizen Says:

    The time for unions is waning especially if employers were smart enough to offer the same benefits that a union would insist upon. But Florida is a “right to work” state with a minimum of benefits required. I say…Employer be smart, wise up and compete with the promises that unions offer and there will be no union. Take care of your employees and they wont need a union.

  12. seantwright Says:

    Atwater, U need the unions here. Lawson needs them to much. Orlando S. Senator who voted no, is in the same boat. Me personally, in NE, unions do invest further along TOD lines. I’ve watched personally one take a bath, but still they invested some $30,000,000.00 into 1 area. I could argue the pros & cons on them, but in this 1 case, the answer is simple.

    AFL-CIO, I’d consider being at the table to be flexible. Consider, that you, may well cut your nose off despite your face. I will assure you that funding for all transportation is in danger. Repayment to the federal government will come from transportation dollars first! Then in the next several years, I assure you the federal matches will be hit.

  13. seantwright Says:

    To James,

    James, please prove by posting a link to any kind of supporting information that can be verified, for your position.

    James, I’ve attended FDOT workshops for several years. I’ve never once heard a FDOT District Rep. state that.

    Tri-Rail in the last several years has been recognized nationally. And just for the amount of new ridership. People in South Florida have proved from 2004 to now that they will try it.

  14. Biill Neubauer Says:

    1.Rush Limbaugh’s researchers have produced data indicating that none of the more productive industries have union restrictions. If true, that should tell us something.
    2. The rail line from Tampa to Orlando to Miami is the wrong approach anyhow. TRAINS RUN ONLY ON SPECIFIC SCHEDULES. A more convenient system would be a fleet of small commuter planes at each of the terminal cities. A traveler could just go to the departure point, select his destination and have a plane taxi out for IMMEDIATE departure ANY TIME OF DAY OR NIGHT. And there would be no need to tear up real estate or build overhead track to establish.

  15. savant Says:

    Passenger rail lines are a perpetual cash drain on taxpayers and they are unprofitable wherever the exist. Building more of them only guarantees higher and higher taxes.

  16. seantwright Says:

    Dear Savant,

    I’m a licensed accountant, I’m also a nationally recognized rail historian. In my career or research, never once have I run across a passenger line that was considered to be for profit.

    In 1833 my GGG Grandfather Nathan Carruth did not consider passenger rail to be a for profit venture. Passenger rail has always, since the beginning, been about smart community development, which is why since the 1840s economic development has been proven to follow behind passenger rail, which pays for rail. South Florida has had this same practice since Henry Flagler’s FEC Railway.

  17. Floridian Vote Says:

    I cant believe this BS! Thats why Iam voting for new conservative leadership with Armando Gutierrez running in Orlando.

  18. Time for a change Says:

    Dont need them.
    Dont want them.
    They have ruined the country. That is why we now produce much of what we use offshore. Get rid of unions before they finish the destruction of the United States

  19. Unions dig in against rail proposal | Post on Politics Says:

    [...] labor unions blasted state transportation officials for refusing to back down from a proposal to do away with union workers on [...]

  20. gary shipley Says:

    If this should go through who is responsable for the job protection buyouts that the employees in south florida that will loose ther jobs should they choose not to stay with and move with csx are entitled to

  21. gary shipley Says:

    Who is responsiable job protection buyouts for workers in south flordia should this go through

  22. gary shipley Says:

    i don’t say put the brakes on deal i want to know who’s responsable for the job protection buyouts and how much they’re going to be worth to workers losing or having to re locate thier jobs with csx.

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