As a recap, we read and discussed chapter 7, "Fast Freight," from John R. Stilgoe's Train Time on February 6.
On February 8, we began our preparations for the conference at the bottom. For the meeting on Friday, March 6, we will prepare for our conference workshop below:
- Energy Supply Chain Inquiry: Interactive workshop where all participants will brainstorm ways for solidarity to flow through the various working class sectors down the chains – and model ways for strikes and direct action to spread from the point of extraction to the point of consumption, including the communities where the energy commodities pass through. All necessary materials (maps of rail lines, rail yards, ports & refineries; flowcharts of fossil fuel supply chains; etc.) will be provided.
Here's the announcement for the conference:
The Future of Railroads: Safety, Workers, Community & the Environment Conference on March 14, 2015 in Richmond, California
Building a Labor – Community Alliance Around Rail Safety
Everyday a tragic trail derailment occurs, often transporting highly flammable Bakken Shale or Tar Sand, from North Dakota or Alberta, to refineries across North America. The 47 -- preventable-- deaths in Lac-Mégantic has wakened people to the dangers of oil trains and the movement of trains in general through their communities. Environmental activists are up-in-arms about the amounts of fossil fuels moving by rail. Farmers and other shippers are concerned about the congestion that has occurred in recent months, but in part to the oil boom. The rail networks in the U.S. and Canada and clogged with crude-by-rail, displacing the already heavy traffic of grains headed to port for export.
The public generally has no idea what goes on daily on America’s railroads. Chronic crew fatigue, single employee train crews, excessively long and heavy trains, draconian availability policies, short staffing, limited time off work create challenging safety issues of concern not just to railroaders, but to the entire population.
Please join us at this cutting edge conference that brings together railroad workers, environmentalists, community activists and concerned workers from other sectors, in order to build the movement for a safer and greener railroad, on that is more responsive to the needs of workers, trackside communities, citizens in general, and society as a whole.
Richmond is a perfect confluence for this conference as it has always been a company town, first for Santa Fe Railroad as the western terminus of its transcontinental railroad in 1900, then for Standard Oil (later becoming Chevron) in 1901 and its massive refinery complex, and again for Kaiser Industries with its four assembly line-like shipyards in the late 1930s through World War II. From 1910 until 1959 the Pullman Company located its largest West Coast rail car repair shop adjacent to the Southern Pacific and Santa Fe lines in the center of Richmond. It also fronts the San Francisco Bay with access to a channel of 40-60 feet deep, allowing the largest seagoing ships (mostly oil tankers these days) to call its ports. Despite still being the location of the Burlington Northern Sante Fe rail yard and Chevron's massive refinery, Richmond is a bottomed out deindustrialized city that puts its largely working class people of color population in the toxic shadow of oil, chemical and other polluting heavy industries.
The adjacent city of Rodeo has the Conoco Phillips Refinery, Benecia has Valero Refinery, and Martinez has both Shell and Tesoro Refineries (the latter currently on strike). They are all served by both BNSF and Union Pacific Railroads and maritime wharfs. This area along the San Francisco and San Pablo Bays and the Carquinez Strait is statistically known as a "cancer cluster."
Use the conference website for online registration and to find details about the event: http://www.railroadconference.org/