JP’s New Song on Railroad Fatigue & A Poem on Chinese Railroad Dangers

When JP Wright is not wearing his Folk Labor Desk hat, he is a Locomotive Engineer, driving trains from Louisville, Kentucky to Nashville, Tennessee. This song details the stress of working a job that takes a person away from home for 70 hours a week.

Freight railroad workers work on call, around the clock, many with no predictable work schedules. Transportation workers in the railroad industry historically have some of the harshest working conditions known to exist in the transportation industry. This song details the difficulties of trying to maintain a family as an absent husband and father.

The poem after the song is a translation of a Chinese work song that details the working conditions of contemporary Chinese railroad workers. The song has been circulating anonymously on railroad forums in China since 2011. JP collected this tune from a face-to-face meeting with a Chinese railroad worker at a Railroad Workers United convention in Chicago earlier in 2016.


About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter who covered everything from Lula & the Brazilian labor movement to major league baseball. He spent years covering union organizing in the South for The Guardian and was labeled by the New York Times as an "abrasive gadfly" for exposing within the labor movement. Raised in a UE union family in Pittsburgh, Elk was illegally for union organizing at Politico in 2015 and used his NLRB settlement to start the crowd-funded Payday Report. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and is fluent in both Pittsburghese and Portuguese, which he learned when attending journalism school at PUC-Rio de Janerio. Email: [email protected]

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