This Week’s Under-reported News Summary – May 17, 2023

Compiled by Bob Nixon

  • Tens of thousands evacuate due to out-of-control wildfires in Alberta, Canada
  • Students imperiled as stopped freight trains block crossings
  • Teamsters begin major Amazon fight over delivery truck drivers

• Over 30,000 people in Canada’s western provinces were forced to flee their homes, after an outbreak of spring wildfires. Alberta’s Premier Danielle Smith declared a state of emergency and oil firms announced temporary shutdowns of operations, slashing production by more than 125,000 barrels of oil per day. Canada is the world’s fourth-largest producer of crude oil and about 80 percent of its oil comes from Alberta.

(“Out of Control Wildfires Force Canadian Province to Seek Help,” Al-Jazeera, April 9, 2023; “‘Like Nagasaki’: Devastating Wildfires Will Only Get Worse,” Guardian, May 10, 2023)

• In industrial towns across the nation, long freight trains block key intersections and school crossings, as these trains often stop for hours or days waiting for rail yards to clear. In Hammond, Indiana near Chicago, school kids are forced to climb over or under freight cars at their own peril. According to ProPublica, local municipal governments and schools often have little power to force the freight trains to move.

(“As Rail Profits Soar, Blocked Crossings Force Kids to Crawl Under Trains to Get to School,” ProPublica, April 26, 2023)

• On May 4, Teamsters Joint Council 42 in southern California filed an unfair labor practice complaint against Amazon for using an exploitive subcontracting model on its fleet of delivery contractors and drivers. The complaint accuses Amazon of failing to execute a collective bargaining agreement and threatening to fire five workers engaged in protected union activity.

(“Teamsters Begin Major Amazon Fight,” American Prospect,  May 4, 2023)

This week’s News Summary was narrated by Anna Manzo.

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