Massachusetts lawmakers, in an effort to avert a looming strike at Amtrak and Consolidated Rail Corp., are telling the two companies they should not expect Congress to stop a shutdown.
Instead, the lawmakers are directing the companies to settle their labor conflicts themselves.A letter sent by the entire Massachusetts House delegation warned the carriers that Congress is in no mood to settle the disputes, especially in the wake of last year's nationwide rail strike.
The letter, disclosed publicly on Monday by the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes, said:
"We are deeply disappointed with the conditions imposed . . . last year. We are simply unwilling to impose similar conditions again."
The letter, addressed to James Hagen, Conrail president, and W. Graham Claytor, Amtrak's president, also said, "Congress should not be seen as a vehicle which management or labor can use to escape confronting these difficult issues."
The BMWE has been in negotiations with Conrail and Amtrak since 1988. It said a strike could take place as early as June 24 on one or both railroads if no settlement is reached.
At Amtrak, where wages are 12 percent lower than on other rails, and where BMWE members' pay averages $21,000 a year, the top issue is wages.