BLE calls into question statements made by UTU President Byron Boyd
UTU contract gives engineer yard duties to RCOs for 46 minutes extra pay
After reviewing numerous inquiries from BLE members regarding the outcome of the January 10 arbitration ruling on remote control, BLE International President Don Hahs called into question certain statements made by UTU President Byron Boyd in a UTU press release.
The January 10 news release expressed the UTU President's opinion of the remote control arbitration and cited several reasons why he entered into the remote control letter of intent and agreement. Boyd called the outcome of the ruling a "victory" and stated that the UTU "did not seek to negotiate on remote control separately."
Recent history indicates that the UTU willingly signed the September 26, 2001, letter of intent with the carriers to begin remote control pilot projects, while the BLE's national convention was still in session and before election of officers was completed.
"If the UTU, as stated, really believed it was important to negotiate together on the issue of remote control, then it appears to BLE that they should have waited at least a few more days to give the newly elected BLE officers an opportunity to participate in remote control negotiations," President Hahs said.
"As you should remember, final resolution of the BLE vote on the UTU merger was still pending on Sept. 26, 2001. We are of the opinion that UTU's zeal to grab the letter of intent was meant to be used to put pressure on BLE membership to merge or be left out of remote control negotiations.
"We believe it was their intent to grab jobs and force the merger instead of the noble ideals presented in their January 10 news release," he said.
President Hahs also disagreed with Boyd's opinion that the January 10 ruling supported the UTU's attempt to force the single craft issue before the National Mediation Board.
"We believe the arbitrator's ruling strengthened the BLE's position that distinct and separate operating crafts exist in the railroad industry," President Hahs said. "The arbitrator provided a clear explanation of the distinct differences separating the locomotive engineer craft and the groundman crafts. In fact, the neutral appears to describe the remote control operator, or RCO, as a new craft that is distinct and separate from the locomotive engineer craft."
President Hahs also called into question Boyd's description of the arbitration as a "victory."
"As stated in the BLE's initial press release of January 10, there are no winners on the side of labor," he concluded. "Rail operating employees are paying a high price with their jobs and only receive a small part of the savings to carriers. The UTU members who don't lose their jobs to remote control will be given massively increased workloads and responsibilities for only 46 minutes of extra pay. After a short two year or so pay back to purchase the remote equipment, carriers will receive nearly 90 percent of the savings as corporate profits. It makes you wonder where are the UTU representatives who negotiated crew consist productivity funds and up front payments in the last round of operating job cuts?
"The remote control ruling may go down in infamy, just like the UTU's 1985 'Halloween Agreement.' Eighteen years later, operating employees still have not recovered from the devastating effects of the UTU's Halloween Agreement. I shudder to think how many operating jobs will be lost 18 years after Friday's remote control ruling.
"The members of both organizations are sick and tired of the UTU leadership's spin on issues they create for their self-preservation that ultimately have a negative impact on workers.
The UTU has hardworking and honorable members who we hope will see through the spin and realize they will end up being the primary casualties of the remote control agreement."
© 2003 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers