Rail Labor Division resolution toughens sanctions for raiding

Since the January issue of the Locomotive Engineer Newsletter went to press, the BLE International Division has continued to receive support from various AFL-CIO bodies and affiliates, including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, in its struggle to thwart raiding attempts by the United Transportation Union.

The Rail Labor Division of the AFL-CIO's Transportation Trades Department passed a resolution in early February, which would prevent unions such as the UTU from rejoining the AFL-CIO for a period of five years.

The resolution is pending before the TTD Executive Committee before heading to the full AFL-CIO Executive Committee for approval (the full text of the resolution appears on Page 4 of this issue).

The UTU, which dropped out of the AFL-CIO to avoid sanctions, is raiding BLE membership by attempting to change operating craft structure in the railroad industry and forcing a series of representation elections.

In essence, the UTU is seeking to take over the BLE by asking the National Mediation Board to eliminate the historic operating crafts of locomotive engineer, conductor, brakeman, switchman, fireman, hostler, and hostler helper, and combine them into a single craft of "train and engine service employees."

Should the NMB create a single craft on any carrier, it would force a representation election on that property to determine which union would represent the new craft. This would allow the UTU to use its greater numbers as leverage in raiding the BLE - while attempting to destroy it.

With the threat of an attack by a non-affiliate looming, nearly a dozen AFL-CIO unions -- representing more than two million members -- have pledged to support the BLE if it is forced to fight for its survival. These unions have also directly contacted the National Mediation Board and specifically asked the NMB not to combine operating crafts in the railroad industry.

In recent weeks, 12 unions representing more than 5 million members have written letters to the National Mediation Board and to BLE International President Don M. Hahs, urging the NMB not to change existing craft lines in the railroad industry and pledging to support the BLE.

Since publication of the January issue of the Newsletter, the BLE has received letters of support from six additional unions.

In a February 20 letter to President Hahs, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters lent its full support to the BLE.

"It is my understanding that UTU severed its ties with the AFL-CIO for the sole purpose of raiding the BLE," wrote Teamster General President James P. Hoffa. "Such action must not be tolerated.

"Be assured that the Teamsters will support the BLE in its campaign to convince the National Mediation Board to refrain from changing its long term definition of rail operating crafts to a single craft. We, like the BLE, understand what it means to honor another union's historical jurisdiction, and we vow to work closely with the BLE on this important issue," Hoffa concluded.

The Teamsters represent 1.4 million workers in various industries, including truck drivers and dock workers.

On January 21, the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers & Helpers (IBB) wrote a letter to NMB Chairman Francis J. Duggan, urging the NMB to continue its definition of separate rail operating crafts.

"Today, just as in the past, there is an engineer and a trainman's class and craft," wrote Joseph A. Stringer, Director of the IBB's Railroad Division. "The Boilermakers urge the Board to continue its long-standing ruling for the good of all rail workers."

The IBB represents more than 100,000 workers throughout the United States and Canada in construction, repair, maintenance, manufacturing and related industries.

On January 23, the American Train Dispatchers Department of the BLE contacted the NMB regarding the legitimacy of separate operating crafts. ATDD President Leo McCann wrote, "Throughout the railroads' history there have been two operating crafts."

Also on January 23, the BLE received a pledge of support from the Service Employees' International Union-National Conference of Firemen & Oilers (NCFO). The SEIU-NCFO represents more than 1.2 million members, including railroad shop laborers, utility men, oilers, and other crafts.

"The BLE has the full support of the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers with thwarting any raiding attempts by the UTU," wrote George J. Francisco Jr., President of the NCFO.

On January 24, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes wrote a letter to the NMB, clearly expressing the fact that it opposes modifications to railroad crafts or classes, "such as that sought by the UTU."

"BMWE continues to oppose NMB intrusion into matters of employee self-organization," wrote BMWE President Mac A. Fleming.

With more than 50,000 members, the BMWE represents rail workers who build and maintain the railroad track and structures in the U.S. and Canada.

On January 31, the BLE received a letter of support from the 240,000-member International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF).

"We are pleased to offer our support for your efforts in defending against the attacks that have recently been waged against your union by the United Transportation Union," wrote IAFF General President Harold A. Schaitberger.

Copies of all letters are available on the BLE website.


2002 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers