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Sens. Robert Byrd, Patty Murray Successfully Turn Back Plan to Send Amtrak Jobs Overseas

Posted by kinchendavid on July 20, 2006

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Robert C. Byrd, D-WV and Patty Murray, D-WA, won Senate Appropriations Committee approval Thursday, July 20, 2006 for legislation that will prevent America’s national railroad from outsourcing jobs to foreign countries.

Amtrak’s senior management recently informed Byrd and Murray that the railroad’s Board of Directors, all appointed by the Bush Administration, planned to invite private vendors to take over major parts of its national reservation system, including vendors based overseas.

“Senator Murray and I have worked for years to keep Amtrak running in the face of budget cuts that would have halted service across the country. Then we learn that our national railroad intends to allow the jobs of hard-working Americans — jobs that are paid for with taxpayer dollars — to be shipped overseas. We could not stand by and let that happen,” Byrd said.

“I’m pleased that we’re sending a clear message to Amtrak that it should not send American jobs overseas,” Murray said. “As I work to ensure Amtrak’s future, I want to make sure that it benefits not just our passengers but also our working families and communities.”

A provision drafted by Byrd and Murray was included in the committee-passed Fiscal Year 2007 Transportation, Treasury, HUD Appropriations stating that Amtrak could not receive its federal subsidy if it allowed full-time or part-time jobs to be sent overseas. Byrd and Murray wrote a letter earlier this month to David M. Laney, Chairman of the Amtrak Board of Directors, and other members of the Amtrak Board to protest the outsourcing plan and to urge the railroad to step away from its efforts to take jobs out of the United States. Byrd is the leading Democratic member of the Senate Appropriations Committee; Murray is the leading Democratic member of the Senate Appropriations transportation subcommittee.

“I recognize that Amtrak needs to cut costs where it can. But I cannot support a policy that allows Amtrak to ship jobs overseas, simply because some foreign vendors pay their employees close to nothing. They do not give them health care benefits. They do not pay them the kind of wages that keep food on the table in places like Riverside, California, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where jobs would be lost,” Byrd said. “These jobs belong in America, and this legislation will ensure that they stay here.”

With committee approval, the transportation bill next comes before the full Senate for action.




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