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In the midst of the Federal Railroad Administration's safety probe into Union Pacific Railroad, more than a dozen BLE officers met with senior Union Pacific officials to address major issues facing BLE members across the merged UP-Southern Pacific system.
The September 8 meeting in St. Louis focused on several areas where unresolved disputes have made working conditions intolerable. Some topics were: the carrier's UP-Grade discipline policy; manpower shortages and deployment problems; hours of service complaints; and harassment of BLE members by carrier officials.
Key to the success of the meeting was the attendance and participation of numerous BLE local chairmen, who recounted their first-hand experiences with the above mentioned problems.
"Senior management usually shields itself from the horror stories that locomotive engineers face every day," First Vice-President Ed Dubroski said. "As of today, they can no longer use ignorance as an excuse for inaction."
Brother Dubroski was joined at the meeting by 10 BLE General Chairmen from across the UP-SP system. Also in attendance were International Vice-Presidents James L. McCoy and Don M. Hahs, and Alternate General Secretary- Treasurer Dennis Simmerman, who is also an international office executive staff member.
Three committees have been established as a result of the meeting. Representation from the BLE will come from the General Committee level and representation from the UP will come from the executive level. The committees will focus on discipline policy, crew utilization and medical qualifications.
"We are earnestly trying to work with the UP to correct problems that have gone on too long," Vice-President McCoy said.
Dubroski noted that conclusions reached at the September 8 BLE meeting were similar to the official findings released by the FRA two days later.
"The statements of Federal Railroad Administrator Jolene Molitoris confirm what we've been saying all along," Dubroski said. "Engineers are overworked and over-scrutinized, and often don't know when they're coming or going. The carrier should seize this opportunity to consider and implement our solutions, so we can go to the FRA together and say, 'We're fixing it.'"
Progress reports will be highlighted in future issues of the newsletter as developments warrant. ·
CLEVELAND, Sept. 29 -- The management shake-up at accident-plagued Union Pacific Railroad "is a good first step in putting safety first on its railroad," said Clarence Monin, president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. "Union Pacific's safety procedures have been awful."
Monin pledged that the BLE would work with UP's new executive vice president for operations, Brad King, to improve safety on the rails. King was appointed Friday to replace Art Shoener.
The appointment of King follows an intense two-week investigation of UP's safety practices by the Federal Railroad Administration, which found overworked employees and problems with dispatching, training and equipment.
The FRA's investigation was prompted by a series of fatal collisions involving UP trains in the past three months. Three BLE members were killed in those accidents.
The BLE, which gave its full support and cooperation to the FRA investigation, has been one of the most vocal critics against shoddy safety practices at UP.
"Our message in pushing for stronger safety procedures at UP has been to promote real change, not just new rhetoric from UP," Monin said. "We
believe the appointment of Mr. King shows that UP is committed to improved safety."
Monin sent a letter of congratulations to King, pledging the BLE's full support in returning UP to its once proud status as a very safe railroad. ·
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