Brotherhood of Railway Signalmen (BRS) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) recently agreed to support Norfolk Southern Corp.'s System Teamwork and Responsibility Training (START) program, designed to address discipline and rules violations in a more positive and educational manner.
START in January 2000 was adopted by Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers- and United Transportation Union-represented train and engine-service employees. Effective July 1, the program covered the railroad's BRS- and IBEW-represented communication and signals workers.
Through START, NS seeks to forego formal hearings for minor and some serious offenses, instead relying on alternative training and education programs. START officials involve local chairmen in making discipline decisions, as well as in forming joint labor-management oversight committees to ensure consistent policy applications.
"Over the past year-and-a-half, START has fostered trust and cooperation, improved discipline procedures and helped us continue to develop a stronger relationship with each other," said Mark MacMahon, NS vice president of labor relations.
BRS represents 1,200 NS signal maintainers; IBEW, 230 NS communications-system maintainers.
"We believe START is an important first step .. to improve the handling of discipline for our members and begin a cooperative effort involving our union representatives and the company's management," said BRS Vice President Floyd Mason.