Spouses hot over cab temperatures

CLEVELAND, August 13, 2001 -- In an effort to raise awareness about the dangers of high temperatures in locomotive cabs on the Union Pacific Railroad, GIA members and their families in the Houston area are holding an informational picket outside of U.P.'s Englewood Yard.

The picket was organized by GIA Auxiliary 139 President Glenda Sikorski and other members of that auxiliary. The rally began at about 7 a.m. and will continue until 3 p.m. with more than a dozen people picketing.

Temperatures in locomotive cabs have registered in the 130 degree range. The high temperatures and humidity in Texas, combined with the metal composition of the locomotive cab, create dangerous conditions for engineers.

"The men and women are subjected to temperatures of 130 degrees for up to 12 hours at a time," said Sikorski. "The heat is also continuously absorbed by the metal in the locomotive and the occupants are essentially being baked."

"This picket was our last resort," said Sikorski. "We sent a registered letter to U.P. to discuss this topic, and they declined to meet with us."

According to GIA Auxiliary 139 member Chandra Barras, some U.P. employees have become physically ill because of the heat and have had to take time off. "We hope that Union Pacific will realize the problems associated with the heat before it is too late," said Barras. "U.P. employees are valuable."

Union Pacific stated recently that 70 percent of its locomotives have air conditioning, however, many of this 70 percent are not being used as lead locomotives in the train consists. The GIA members and their families feel that this shows how little consideration the railroad has for its employees.

"Apparently U.P.'s slogan of safety first does not apply," said Sikorski. "It is safety last and train moving and money first."

The rally has received coverage by all the television stations in Houston and the Houston Chronicle newspaper.

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August 13, 2001


2001 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers