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More than 100 Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway Co. (W&LE) employees represented by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) launched a strike at 5 a.m. (EDT) today.Picket lines were formed at seven primary W&LE terminals in Ohio and Pennsylvania, shutting down the railroad's operation, BLET officials said in a press release. The workers are protesting that regional's repudiation of collective bargaining agreements that cover locomotive engineers and conductors, they said."We were forced to take this action in defense of our contracts," said BLET General Chairman Bob Linsey. "The carrier has used management officials to perform the work of bargaining unit employees, namely locomotive engineers and conductors. In defiance of the union's warnings, the carrier has also recently ignored longstanding crew consist agreements and operated single-person operations in an effort to eliminate trainmen."The BLET opposes single-person train crews and supports the Safe Freight Act (H.R. 3040), which would require at least two crew members on all U.S. freight trains."I again call on the House leadership to move forward with this legislation," said BLET National President Dennis Pierce.
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