Experiments with Truth: News

Chicago rail workers strike, alleging shady layoffs and poor safety

Eric Vazquez started working for Mobile Rail Solutions, a family-owned company that services locomotives in Chicago-area rail yards, a month and a half ago. He quickly came to feel the job was hazardous. In the course of his workday, he said, he was supposed to climb a tower more than 10 feet high to release thousands of pounds of sand into his truck, without a safety harness or a respirator to protect his lungs.

Nor, he says, was he provided sturdy gloves or other protective gear for dealing with human waste while cleaning out septic systems. “They didn’t give us hepatitis or tetanus shots,” he said. “I have a 1-month-old. I definitely don’t want to bring that home to my little man.”

So Vazquez filed a complaint with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in July. Meanwhile OSHA separately opened investigations in mid-July into three Chicago-area Mobile Rail facilities—in Northlake, Bedford Park and Aurora. The agency has six months to complete the investigations, U.S. Department of Labor spokesperson Rhonda Burke told Working In These Times, but said she could not comment further on ongoing investigations.

More Follow External Link to Kari Lydersen, In These Times