Posts Tagged ‘Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen’

BLET to Poll Members on Strike Vote

June 24, 2022

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen said this week it will poll its members about authorizing a strike if it is unable to reach a new contract that it agrees with.

President Dennis Pierce said conducting the strike vote doesn’t mean a strike will occur.

He said in a statement that a strike, though, could become a tactic to seek to reach the union’s goals during collective bargaining.

The National Mediation Board earlier this month released BLET and other railroad labor unions from mediation with the major railroads, which created a 30-day cooling off period under federal law.

That period ends at 12:01 a.m. on July 18 at which time union members would be free to strike and management would be free to lock workers out of the workplace.

However, another cooling off period could be triggered if the Biden administration appoints a presidential emergency board to investigate the dispute and issue recommendations for solving it.

Pierce said union leaders expect Biden to appoint an emergency board, but the union wants to be “prepared for all eventualities.”

Union Leaders Skeptical of Foote’s Comments

May 19, 2022

Although labor unions representing CSX appreciate some of the moves the carrier has made in recent months to improve management-employer relations, they are taking with a grain of salt recent comments made by CEO James Foote about his desire to improve the working relationship.

Trains magazine said the labor leaders it interviewed described the relationship with management as the worst it has been in decades. They were speaking about railroads generally and not CSX in particular.

Foote has spoken about the need to improve relations with workers in recent weeks and last week during a speech to the North American Rail Shippers conference he said creating better rapport with workers would be the biggest transformative change the industry could make.

Dennis Pierce, president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, said he was “flabbergasted” by Foote’s comments because CSX has not met with the union since January and no contract negotiations are currently scheduled.

“He’s got the tools to fix it and he’s never used them. So we’re not sure what he’s talking about,” Pierce said.

In the eyes of union leaders Foote has been sending mixed messages. During a late April hearing by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board into freight service issues, Foote said the railroad’s crew shortage problems would disappear overnight if it could use one-person crews.

According to the Trains report, labor leaders see massive layoffs and operational changes prompted by the move to the precision scheduled railroading model as a major source of tension.

Other sources of conflict include what labor sees as punitive attendance policies, stalled contract negotiations, and no pay increases since 2019.

Unions see the desire of railroads to have one-person crews as a major reason why contract talks have stalemated.

Railroad industry management has not hidden its desire to reassign most conducts to ground-based roving positions in set territories. Conductors would be responsible for multiple trains within their territories and follow them in trucks or SUVs.

Union leaders acknowledge that CSX has taken some steps toward improving its relations with labor.

It has begun offering attendance bonuses to workers to stay marked up, has softened some discipline policies and boosted pay for new conductors.

Trains quoted industry observer Todd Tranausky as saying labor relations in the railroad industry are strained.

“But there is always tension between labor and management in any industry when large changes driven by automation are on the horizon, so it should not come as a surprise,” said Tranausky, vice president of rail and intermodal at freight forecasting firm FTR Transportation Intelligence.

The article can be read at https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews/news-wire/labor-leaders-skeptical-of-ceo-talk-of-improving-railroads-relationship-with-rank-and-file/

Ex-CSX Workers Sues for Reinstatment

May 6, 2022

A former CSX employees from Fostoria has filed a lawsuit against CSX, his union and an arbitration panel that upheld his firing.

Kirk E. Knopp filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Western Division.

CSX fired him in 2019 for violation of its social media policies. The lawsuit contends that Knopp did not violate the policy because he did not in the social media post in question mention CSX.

The post was made in May 2019 and pertained to a 21-year-old man who was killed after being struck by a train in Fostoria.

The lawsuit said the post contained a derogatory comment posted under Knopp’s name.

The National Railway Adjustment Board Special Board of Adjustment heard the case involving Knopp’s termination.

The lawsuit alleges that Knopp was told he would not have to attend the arbitration hearing and therefore he was denied an opportunity to participate and provide testimony.

Knopp also argues in his suit that the arbitration panel did not consider the harshness of his being terminated due to one violation of the CSX policy. Furthermore, Knopp argues his social media activity is protected by the First Amendment.

He is seeking reinstatement with back pay and benefits. Also named as a defendant in the lawsuit is the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.

Rail Labor Unions Join Trades Coalition

January 8, 2022

Two railroad labor unions have agreed to rejoin the Rail Labor Division of the Transportation Trades Department, thus creating an alliance representing all railroad labor unions in the United States.

Agreeing to join the trade department were the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees.

Both of the latter two unions are divisions of the Rail Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

In a news release, the unions said the trades department will now represent more than 80,000 unionized railroad employees.

Court Consolidates Vaccine Rule Lawsuits

November 24, 2021

A federal court in Illinois has consolidated lawsuits involving Class 1 railroads and their unions over COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

The action was taken by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and involves Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, BNSF, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and two other unions.

The Class 1 railroads have cited a federal executive order in requiring their workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.

The unions argue that the vaccine edict by the carriers violates the collective bargaining process.

In a related development, unions representing Amtrak workers have filed suit over the passenger’s carrier’s vaccination requirement.

BLET and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART-TD) said they generally support vaccination but want Amtrak to engage in collective bargaining over the issue.

The unions claim Amtrak is negotiating directly with employees rather than talking with their unions.

The lawsuit against Amtrak raised many of the same issues as those in the litigation involving NS and UP.

Amtrak is requiring its workers to submit proof of vaccination before Dec. 8. Those workers who have received just dose of the vaccine have until Jan. 4, 2022, to show proof of being full vaccinated.

The carrier has threatened to fire workers who failed to comply with the rules.

2 Unions Sue NS Over Vaccination Rule

November 2, 2021

Two railroad labor unions have sued Norfolk Southern in an effort to halt the Class 1 carrier from imposing a rule requiring workers to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

The SMART Transportation Division along with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Chicago Division.

The unions acted after NS filed its own lawsuit seeking to stop unions from suing it over the vaccine rule.

NS has said in public statements that it imposed the vaccination rule due to an executive order issued by President Joseph Biden requiring federal contractors to mandate vaccinations for their employees by Dec. 8.

In their lawsuit, the unions contend that a mandatory vaccine requirement must be negotiated under the Railway Labor Act.

Unions Seek Injunction Against NS Over Job Assignments

October 29, 2021

Two railroad labors unions are seeking an injunction to force Norfolk Southern to honor trade craft boundaries between locomotive engineers and train conductors.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the SMART Transportation Division filed motions in a federal court in Ohio seeking a preliminary injunction to restrain NS from ordering workers in one craft to perform the duties of another craft.

The motions were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division.

In a news release, the two unions indicated their objective is to prevent NS from forcing engineers to work as conductors. The unions also want to stop NS from disciplining engineers to refuse to perform conductor duties.

The unions want a court to order NS to reinstate BLET members who have been disciplined as a result of the dispute and to expunge all related discipline records.

SMART-TD said in the release that it wants the court to order NS to maintain the status quo in which SMART-TD-represented train service employees are assigned to jobs in those crafts and classes.

Unions Say NS Forcing Engineers to Work as Conductors in Violation of Labor Contract

October 2, 2021

Two railroad labor unions are taking Norfolk Southern to court over what they claim is the Class 1 carrier’s forcing locomotive engineers to work conductor positions.

The unions say the practice is prohibited by their collective bargaining agreement.

The Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Art, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART-TD) and Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen said in a statement that NS “cannot lawfully lay off roughly 4,000 conductors and brakemen, and then give their work to another craft.

“Nor can NS lawfully deprive locomotive engineers of the jobs, wages, and working conditions to which they are contractually entitled by forcing them to perform the work of other crafts.”

The statement contends that NS has eliminated more than 35 percent of its operating crew positions since December 2018.

The unions argue that NS wants to eliminate the conductor and brakeman positions and has threatened engineers who refused to work as conductors with being fired for insubordination.

BLET Marks Anniversary of Founding

May 8, 2021

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen will mark its 158th anniversary today.

The union was founded as the Brotherhood of the Footboard on May 8, 1863, in Marshall, Michigan.

It became the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers in 1864 and merged with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters on Jan. 1, 2004, when it became BLET. 

It is the oldest labor union in the Western Hemisphere.

In a news release, BLET officials said the union emerged after locomotive engineers on the Michigan Central became discouraged with pay cuts and the arbitrary dismissal of their firemen. BLET was the first labor organization to obtain contracts with railroads, including the NYC in 1875.

Today, the BLET has hundreds of contracts with railroads and represents locomotive engineers on 98 percent of rail trackage in the United States.

FRA Gives Unions Added Time to File Appeals

February 17, 2021

Two railroad labor unions have received additional time from the Federal Railroad Administration to file petitions for review by the Operating Crew Review Board.

FRA rules governing certification of locomotive engineers and conductors require that petitions to review a railroad’s decision to deny certification or recertification must be filed with the OCRB no more than 120 days after the date of the railroad’s final decision.

The FRA’s latest action extends the 120-day limit to 180 days.

The agency said it agreed to extend the time to file appeals due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The extension is a waiver that will expire on Feb. 11, 2022, unless extended by the agency.

The unions that sought the extension were the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the SMART Transportation Division.