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Supreme Court rejects Wheeling & Lake Erie petition over train crew dispute


The U.S. Supreme Court has denied Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway's petition asking the court to overturn a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that determined the railroad's use of managers in place of union conductors was a major dispute under the Railway Labor Act.

The Supreme Court's action involves a dispute between the railroad and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET).

The case began in September 2013, when the union called a strike over the railroad's rejection of collective bargaining agreements that cover the locomotive engineer and trainmen operating crafts. The union alleged that the railroad ignored longstanding crew consist agreements and operated single-person operations in an effort to eliminate trainmen.

The railroad challenged the strike. A lower court determined the disagreement to be a minor one and issued an injunction sending the BLET members back to work.

In 2015, a U.S. Appeals Court reversed the lower court's decision and found that Wheeling & Lake Erie's "claim that the trainmen agreement allowed it to man trains without union conductors is frivolous or obviously insubstantial, and the dispute is major," according to a BLET press release.

The railroad petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review that ruling. The high court rejected the petition on Jan. 9.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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