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UTU, BLE draw battle lines in CPR representation 'raid'


United Transportation Union and Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers are jockeying for position in an effort to control Canadian Pacific Railway's "running trades" (or train and engine-service) employees.

On July 10, UTU filed an application with Canada Industrial Relations Board seeking to certify UTU as the bargaining agent for all of CPR's 4,365 running trades workers.

Canadian Council of Railway Operating Unions currently bargains with CPR on behalf of UTU- and BLE-represented employees.

But more than 70 percent of the railroad's running trades workers already are UTU members and "hundreds" recently have applied for membership, UTU officials said in a prepared statement. On July 4, UTU representatives approached CPR's BLE members and invited them to sign UTU applications, according to a BLE statement.

"The open and overwhelming support shown by all of the running trades members prompted this decision to seek a single bargaining unit, which will more aptly protect and represent the interests of the running trades," said UTU Vice President Guy Scarrow.

UTU expects the board to act on the application within 60 days.

BLE recently condemned UTU's attempts to recruit BLE members and dismissed General Chairman Robert McKenna, who BLE officials believe assisted "the UTU raid."

BLE International President Don Hahs appointed International Vice President & National Legislative Representative-Canada George Hucker as temporary trustee of the BLE's (East) General Committee of Adjustment, and Special Representative R.J. Toole as administrative assistant to Hucker.

In a July 8 letter, Hahs told McKenna "you have violated your duty by using your BLE title and office to promote the election of the UTU to replace the BLE as collective bargaining representative for Canadian Pacific engineers and may have expended BLE funds to further that campaign."

UTU's Scarrow believes BLE's dismissal of McKenna "without investigation or official inquiry is most disturbing."

"The BLE's own constitutional provisions were ignored and the very basis for democracy was destroyed," he said.

BLE Canadian Director Gilles Hallé recently sent a letter to Canadian Labour Congress President Ken Georgetti urging the congress to immediately appoint "a neutral umpire" to investigate UTU's actions.

"The UTU, by these actions, has done what the company has been attempting to achieve for countless years — divide and conquer," said Hallé.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/11/2003