BLE intervenes in 13(c) fight, a battle to save union jobs

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has granted motions by the BLE, the Firemen and Oilers, IAM, IBEW, TCU and UTU to intervene in the attempt by Herzog Transit Services to bid on the operation of Bay Transit Authority's commuter rail services in the San Francisco area.

Herzog Transit Services wanted to be one of the bidders for the maintenance and running of the trains and, aware of the Department of Labor's (DOL) interpretation of regulations in the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) case from earlier in 2000, filed a lawsuit challenging the application of these regulations.

In the MBTA case, the U.S. Department of Labor and the Federal Transit Administration warned MBTA contractor Bay State Transit Service that it was not complying with a 1964 labor regulation known as "13 (c)," designed to protect workers' seniority, contracts and wages. The contractor disagreed and tried to litigate the issue, but the federal agencies threatened to cut off about $200 million in funds immediately if the MBTA did not honor its 13(c) obligations. Amtrak's contracts to operate MBTA service have been renewed.

On December 15, the BLE and the other unions were granted the right to intervene on the DOL's behalf in its defense against Herzog. The court also denied Herzog's motion for a preliminary injunction for failure to establish any present threat of irreparable harm.

The BLE and the other five unions are seeking to protect the jobs of their members. They are concerned about the abrogation of contracts and pay scales, as well as layoffs, if the contract is granted to Herzog or another non-union company.

BLE President Edward Dubroski blasted Herzog's anti-union tactics. "Apparently, Herzog was encouraged when Senator Phil Gramm and other radicals improperly attempted to interfere in our struggle with MBTA," Dubroski said.

"With the Republican sweep of the national elections, we can expect even more attempts to eliminate 13(c), which we will resist with every tool at our disposal."

2001 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers