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Rail News Home Rail Industry Trends

1/14/2002



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

BLE files NMB response to UTU's winner-take-all election proposal on KCS


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Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers Jan. 11 submitted two position statements with National Mediation Board (NMB) in response to United Transportation Union’s attempt to force a single-craft representation election on Kansas City Southern.

In the statements, BLE officials defend the union’s historic operating craft lines and urge NMB to hold a full evidentiary hearing on the matter.

"Craft or class determinations — and particularly requests such as UTU’s to combine historically distinct crafts — by their nature are fact-intensive inquiries, dependent upon the specific circumstances and practices on a specific carrier," BLE officials said in a prepared statement.

BLE officials contend that governing case law is provided by the 2000 Union Pacific Railroad case, in which NMB ruled in favor of BLE, determining that, "engineers ha(d) separate and distinct core duties compared to those in the conductor craft," and the historic operating crafts were not combined.

UTU officials contend that governing case law is provided by Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis’ (TRRA) 2001 case, in which NMB deviated from its UP ruling and found that UTU had authorized a combined craft or class of "train and engine service employees."

However, BLE officials believe the TRRA ruling was controversial, prompting NMB to issue a split-decision. While NMB agreed with UTU that combined operating crafts exist on short lines, such as the TRRA, it hasn’t been the case on a Class I, BLE officials said.

"But even were NMB to reject UP and apply the TRRA analysis to Class I railroads, the facts in this case — contrary to UTU’s assertions — would not support a finding that engineers and trainmen share a ‘community of interest’ sufficient to justify combining the crafts," BLE officials said.

BLE has received support from AFL-CIO and other rail labor unions in the dispute. Union officials believe AFL-CIO leaders might establish a task force to assist the BLE in its representation fight.


Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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