Local Amtrak workers worried about safety, call for change on rails

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SAN DIEGO — Amtrak workers rallied outside the Santa Fe station in Downtown San Diego Saturday morning, demanding the federal government give employees more protection and safety while on the rails.

More than a dozen Amtrak employees held up signs stating, “In the air it’s a crime – on the rails not even a fine.”

Union representative Louie Costa, of SMART Transportation Division, said they are asking the federal government to act in light of recent deadly events.

Earlier in October, a DEA agent was shot and killed by an AMTRAK passenger in Tucson, Arizona.

“There needs to be more enforcement and more protection for these employees,” Costa said. “They are essential workers, they have been forever. They need to have the same protection as other employees in the transportation sector do.”

Costa added they are asking lawmakers to enforce the crimes.

“A federal crime to assault or interfere with a passenger rail employee or commuter rail employee on the lines,” he said. “It is with the airline industry, that is what we are asking for.”

Willard Mason, a retired AMTRAK train conductor, was brutally assaulted in 2017, minutes before departing from San Diego to Los Angeles.   

“Before I knew it, he hit me with some object out of his pocket,” Mason said.

The man broke Mason’s nose, crown, dislocated his shoulder and gave him a concussion. According to Mason, the man got away and says that is exactly why there needs to be more security.

“It’s a crime that we do not do anything about it, that is where the crime is,” Mason said. “We must not let this be a silent deadly event that continues to plague us. We must do something right today.”

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