LIRR under fire from BLET
Railroad puts safety, passenger service at risk
The Long Island Railroad (LIRR) is under fire by locomotive engineers for taking unnecessary risks with safety and jeopardizing service to tens of thousands of commuters.
The LIRR, which has engaged Canadian firm Bombardier to perform maintenance work covered by warranty on commuter trains and cars at the Arch Street Yard in Queens, plans to use non-union, unqualified and uncertified Bombardier employees to operate trains beginning January 1, 2005 - putting safety at risk and violating the railroad's contract with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET).
Robert M. Evers, General Chairman of the BLET, which represents Engineers on the LIRR, notified LIRR President James Dermody that Locomotive Engineers will walk off the job if and when a Bombardier employee operates a train or moves an M-7 car anywhere on LIRR property.
"There are no warranty issues concerning the movement of trains and engines on the LIRR," Evers said. "Why entrust a floundering company when the railroad already employs experienced, certified engineers and trainmen?"
Bombardier, which suffered a $141 million loss during the first nine months of 2004, witnessed the abrupt departure of CEO Paul Tellier and recently announced it was cutting 7,600 jobs in their transportation division, including 2,200 jobs in its rail division.
In light of MTA/LIRR budget difficulties resulting in substantial fare increases and future service cutbacks, "We wonder who is responsible for spending millions of dollars of taxpayers' money to build a facility for the exclusive use of a private company," Chairman Evers said. "Perhaps an investigation by the MTA Inspector General or the appropriate State Agency is in order."
The BLET represents 55,000 professional Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen throughout the United States. It is a Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters' Rail Conference.
© 2005 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen