CLEVELAND, August 9 -- Key testimony delivered by Locomotive Engineer Mike Russell and evidence provided by the Union Pacific Railroad helped the BLE build a solid case in hearings before the National Mediation Board that will determine the future of the locomotive engineers' craft.
The factual high point for the BLE case was when it clearly refuted UTU's claim that the cross-utilization of locomotive engineers and conductors contributed to a "blurring" of craft lines at Union Pacific. Documentation provided by UP proved that more than 99 percent of locomotive engineers performed only as locomotive engineers during the first three months of 1999, and that more than 99 percent of trainmen worked only as trainmen.
"If this case is decided on law and the facts, then the Mediation Board has only one choice and that's to deny the UTU's application," said BLE International President Ed Dubroski.
Over the first three months of 1999, the average number of 22,700 employees (9,200 engineers and 13,500 trainmen) worked a total of 1,204,435 separate starts. During that time, only 89 individuals were cross-utilized for a grand total of only 264 starts. In other words, UP cross-utilized employees 0.02 percent of the time and less than 0.5 percent of the employees worked outside of their craft.
In addition, Locomotive Engineer Mike Russell, a member of BLE Division 81 (Kansas City, Kan.) testified to the core duties of locomotive engineers and how the craft differs from that of conductor or brakeman.
Brother Russell delivered compelling, first-hand testimony regarding train handling and air brake procedures that only locomotive engineers are required to know and understand.
"When I was in training, every engineer would tell me, 'Every train handles different,' and I thought, well, these guys are nuts," Russell testified. "But once you become an engineer you realize it's important how you handle these trains, and just because you have a certain train makeup or consist, you are going to have to make decisions affecting that through your whole trip."
The BLE continued to receive strong support from organized labor as four "amicus" briefs were filed on behalf of the BLE cause.
The AFL-CIO, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes and the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen filed a joint brief while the American Train Dispatchers Department of the BLE filed individual briefs in support of the BLE.
The fourth amicus brief was filed by a consortium of six shop crafts that belong to the AFL-CIO's Transportation Trades Department -- the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Sheet Metal Workers International Association, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers and Blacksmiths, National Conference of Firemen & Oilers-SEIU, Transportation Communications International Union, and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
In addition of Mike Russell, other BLE witnesses included UP-Central Region General Chairman Mike Young, SP-Western Lines General Chairman Lee Pruitt, UP-Western Region General Chairman Marv Mitchell and International Vice-President Richard K. Radek, Director of the BLE's Arbitration Department.
The six-day hearing produced a transcript of more than 750 pages and several dozen exhibits. It is not known when the NMB will issue a ruling on this case.
"If you don't stay on top of a lot of trains through undulating territory, you can tear the train in two. It's called getting a knuckler, a draw bar or cause a derailment.
"Obviously you learn as you go over your territory there are certain ways to handle a train through certain parts of your territory but then again, that is going to change daily in tune with the kind of train that you are running on that particular day."
Q: "During the course of this operation that you describe, where is the conductor on your train?"
A: "Sitting over on the left side."
Q: "Does he have any controls that he can manipulate while he is riding?"
A: "Well, there is the emergency brake valve."
Q: "Can he touch the throttle or the braking devices other than the emergency brake?"
Q: "I gather that this operation in part is governed not only by your own personal allowance after being out on the job, but by these train handling rules, right?"
Q: "Do those rules, train handling rules, apply to the conductors and brakemen?"
A: "There are train handling rules in the rulebook, but as far as being trained to handle a train, they are not trained."
Q: "Are you familiar with the Federal Railroad Administration regulations governing your certification as a locomotive engineer?"
Q: "What effect do those regulations have on your day-to-day life as a locomotive engineer?"
A: "Well, my livelihood exists with the license that I carry. If I go through a red signal or enter the main track without authority or exceed my maximum speed by over 10 miles an hour, I am subject to having my license removed. And thus my income."
Q: "In your experience, can a conductor operate the locomotive?"
A: "Not unless he's a qualified engineer that's cut back to train service. And only then under my supervision."
Q: "And you say only then and along with your supervision? Could he automatically do that himself?"
A: "No, he has to get the permission of the engineer on duty in order to run the train."
Q: "And why is that?"
A: "UP and Federal regulations."
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