BLE engineers strike Union Pacific
CLEVELAND, January 27 -- Over 8,000 locomotive engineers, members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE), walked off the job at 12:01 this morning, shutting down the nation's largest rail carrier, the Union Pacific Railroad (UP).
The strike was triggered by UP's imposition of new qualification standards for personal leave days for engineers shortly after the first of the year. The shutdown affects freight traffic over the railroad's 38,654 miles of track in 23 states.
The BLE's International President, Edward Dubroski, states that the job action was "something we were forced to do. Union Pacific has chosen to unilaterally impose new working conditions on locomotive engineers, in defiance of federal law," Dubroski said.
Under the terms of the Railway Labor Act, which governs labor relations in the railroad and airline industries, changes in rates of pay, rules and working conditions cannot be made without, at the very least, prior notice and negotiations. The Act also provides for mediation and voluntary arbitration, if negotiations fail.
"The proper way to make the sort of change UP has forced upon us
is to bargain for such a change," Dubroski said. "In fact, we
have been in negotiations since November 1, 1999, and the subject has never
even been raised."
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