Why the NMB-appointed panel ruled in favor of the BLE

The three-member panel appointed by the National Mediation Board to arbitrate the BLE-UTU dispute cited several key pieces of evidence in ruling in favor of the BLE's position.

UTU argued that the line between locomotive engineer and conductor crafts had been "blurred to the point of practical extinction." UTU cited a case involving United Airlines in which a three-person flight crew were cross utilized and argued that this set the precedent for combination of classes in the railroad industry.

The BLE successfully argued that this type of cross utilization does not exist between locomotive engineers and conductors on the Union Pacific. The NMB panel agreed with the BLE position:

"(T)he results of a 90-day cross utilization preponderance check period showed that of 9,200 engineers, and 13,500 conductors during 1,240,435 separate start-ups, there were 89 instances of cross utilization for a total of 264 occasions."

UTU also argued that promotion from conductor to engineer is mandatory because of its infamous 1985 "Halloween" agreement. Again, the NMB panel cited BLE evidence to refute the UTU allegation.

"Indeed, of the 10,413 employees in train service on November 1, 1985 who were then given access to promotion to engineer, over the past 15 years 80 percent have declined the opportunity to acquire the requisite training and certification that would have made them qualified engineers."

In the end, factual BLE evidence prevailed over UTU rhetoric.

"In the light of the foregoing, we must conclude that the conditions here present do not justify an order by the Board for a single craft or class," the panel concluded.

2000 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers