BLE files dissenting opinion in remote control arbitration

On January 16, BLE President Don Hahs filed his dissent to Chairman Gil Vernon's decision in the remote control arbitration case, Special Board of Adjustment No. 1141.

Vernon was the "neutral" member of the four-member Board, which also included President Hahs, NCCC Chairman Robert Allen and UTU President Byron Boyd.

The NCCC's Allen and the UTU's Boyd voted in favor of Vernon's decision. President Hahs' dissent made the final vote 3-1.

Hahs's dissent stated that the Chairman's decision was an "aberration" that was "fundamentally flawed."

"The carriers' common agreements with BLE have always been applied to require an engineer on every locomotive that moves cars and freight and to require the carriers to assign the operation of locomotives, regardless of the means of control, to locomotive engineers," President Hahs wrote. "As far back as 1944, the carriers and BLE expressed their understanding in the so-called 'Diesel Agreements' that a locomotive consist could be operated from one cab by one engineer with one set of controls and that the 'duties and responsibilities of engineers' regardless of the size of a consist 'will not be assigned to others.' The operation of locomotives to move cars and freight is what those 'duties and responsibilities' have always been."

President Hahs also disputed Vernon's opinion that a computer or microprocessor had replaced or eliminated the duties of the engineer.

"This is not a situation where an employee's work has been eliminated by technology," President Hahs wrote. "The Board has mistakenly compared this situation to advances in radio telemetry and data input. This is a case where the carrier, under the guise of technological advancement, has assigned the actual duties and responsibilities of one craft to another."

President Hahs also said he was "appalled" at Vernon's dismissal of the many local agreements that were presented by BLE General Committees of Adjustment during the November 18 and 19 hearings.

Many of these local agreements were "manning" agreements stipulating that at least one locomotive engineer must be assigned to all train movements. In BLE's opinion, these agreements proved that the assignment of remote control work to other than engineers was a violation of the Brotherhood's collective bargaining agreements.

"Both BLE and the carriers made extensive filings on these issues and representatives of the General Committees of Adjustment orally argued their respective positions before the Board," President Hahs concluded. "For the Board to dismiss them (which the Board should not have done in any event) with a checklist of reasons, not even identifying the specific basis for which any agreement provision is being rejected, is both disgraceful and a disservice to the parties."

A copy of President Hahs' dissent is on the BLE website at: http://www.ble.org/pr/pdf/dissent.pdf

 

 

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