“Right now, the major railroad companies and 13 different unions representing over 115,000 railroad workers have reached an impasse in contract negotiations that have been going on for years, and we are now closer to a national rail shutdown than we’ve been in a generation. President Biden has even appointed an Emergency Presidential Board to try to mediate between the rail unions and the rail carriers, but if that mediation fails we’ll be on the verge of a historic shutdown.

So, how did we get here? If you talk to any railroader in private, you’ll get an earful about how decades of corporate greed, consolidation, cost cutting, automation, layoffs, and other profit-maximizing, shareholder-serving decisions have upended the railroads and turned what used to be good lifelong jobs into exhausting, impossible jobs that veteran workers are leaving in droves. But if any workers speak up publicly about what’s going on on the railroads, they will likely face severe consequences.

Luckily, we were able to connect with Jay, a qualified conductor who was licensed to operate locomotives at 19 years old, and who became a qualified train dispatcher before he was 23. We talk about Jay’s life, how he came to work at the railroads, and what the job of a train dispatcher entails, but we also talk about how the industry has changed in recent decades, the havoc those changes have wreaked on workers and the supply chain, and why we should all be concerned about the crisis the railroads are in right now.”

Listen to the full episode here, and pick up a copy of THE WORK OF LIVING here.