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3/20/2006



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

NMB calls for second representation vote after ruling Stillwater Central interfered with first election, BLET says



The National Mediation Board (NMB) will conduct a second representation election at the Stillwater Central Railroad Co. because the board recently determined the short line violated the Railway Labor Act by “improperly influencing workers during the original election process” last year, according to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET).

In August 2005, the union — a member of the Teamsters Rail Conference — filed a protest with the NMB alleging election interference after nine of Stillwater Central’s 20 train and engine-service (T&E) workers voted in favor of being represented by the BLET.

Conditions for a fair and unbiased election were tainted after the 275-mile Oklahoma short line fired three T&E employees who were “known union supporters,” held numerous group and one-on-one meetings with workers, changed work policies for T&E workers and increased employees’ pay during the election process, BLET officials alleged.

“When considering whether employees’ freedom of choice of a collective bargaining representative has been impaired, the board examines the totality of the circumstances as established through investigation,” the NMB wrote in a 46-page ruling. “In such an evaluation, each conclusion may not constitute interference in and of itself, but when combined with other factors, the totality evidences improper interference.”

If Stillwater Central — which is owned and operated by the Watco Cos. — does not appeal the ruling, a re-vote will be conducted in late March or April.

“Guys literally lost their jobs helping organize the property,” said BLET Organizing Director Tommy Miller. “The BLET is pleased that we were able to bring about positive change, even though we are not their bargaining agent yet.”


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