Our Working Lives


Originally published in the Winter/Spring 2023 edition of the Virginia Defender, issue 71, printed March 22. Reproduced here for accessibility and archival purposes. To find other stories in the Winter/Spring 2023 issue or to download the full PDF, see this post. For other issues dating back to 2012, see the Full Issues page.

Staff Report

Members and supporters of the Tidewater Workers Assembly stage a protest outside the Lamberts Point coal yards in Norfolk in solidarity with railway workers around the country who face hazardous conditions on the job. Photo courtesy Tidewater Workers Assembly.

The Feb. 23 fiery derailment of a Norfolk Southern freight train in East Palestine, Ohio, has focused the country’s attention on the issue of rail safety. The accident resulted in 38 cars carrying hazardous materials going off the tracks and catching fire. Responders intentionally burned toxic chemicals in some of the derailed cars to prevent an explosion, forcing half the town’s roughly 5,000 residents to evacuate for several days.

On March 11, members of the Tidewater Workers Assembly, a chapter of the Southern Workers Assembly, staged a protest outside the Lamberts Point coal yards in Norfolk to call out Norfolk Southern for what it called its dangerous practices. It was part of a national day of solidarity with railroad workers.

Lamberts Point was chosen because according to a TWA press release, “In Norfolk, VA (which is where NS was founded), the Lamberts Point neighborhood has suffered from air pollution for decades from the coal trains that deliver coal to and from the Norfolk Southern Lamberts Point (NSLP) railyard.

Norfolk Southern, one of the country’s biggest railroads, has a history of frequent derailments, including 119 derailments last year alone, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Categories: Our Working Lives

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