AFL-CIO Executive Council passes resolution condemning UTU

At its winter meeting in New Orleans, the AFL-CIO Executive Council passed a resolution which condemns the aggressive actions of the non-affiliated United Transportation Union against the BLE.

"This is a major accomplishment for the BLE," said BLE International President Don M. Hahs of the resolution, passed on February 27. "We have pushed some issues forward and it is a good day for the BLE."

The resolution, which urges the UTU to cease its efforts and rejoin the AFL-CIO, has prompted some AFL-CIO affiliates to promise discourse with the UTU, asking that organization to stop its actions.

The resolution passed by the Executive Council, reads as follow:

"Transportation Labor Solidarity with the BLE

"The labor movement has always unified around the basic principle that the interests of all working men and women are compatible and not conflicting. AFL-CIO-affiliated unions have focused their energy and resources on the core mission of growing the movement and giving millions of new workers a voice on the job, in their communities and in the political process. During a time when all unions face unprecedented challenges and a politically hostile environment in Washington, the unity of all working people through their unions is more important today than ever before.

"The challenges are indeed serious. Workers in all sectors of the economy are hurting from massive layoffs as cold-hearted politicians fail to act. The right to organize and collectively bargain is being undermined and faces constant political interference. America's industrial base is collapsing due to perverse trade policies. And a myriad of transportation infrastructure, safety and security issues remain unaddressed. Our response to these challenges must be forceful and unified.

"From time to time some labor organizations have chosen a path of isolation outside the AFL-CIO and have undertaken efforts to raid the membership of the Federation's affiliates. These tactics violate the very principles on which this movement was founded more than a century ago and misdirect energies from the real mission of the AFL-CIO and its affiliates: to organize the unorganized under the banner of solidarity. Transportation labor faces such a challenge today from the actions of the United Transportation Union (UTU).

"In May the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE), an AFL-CIO affiliate, will mark its 139th year of representing the men and women who operate locomotives at North America's freight and passenger railroads. Historically, the BLE and all unions representing railroad workers have worked together for the mutual benefit of their collective membership. Their solidarity has stood the test of time as rail labor has responded to numerous challenges - from the devastating effects of post-deregulation consolidation in the rail industry to battles over preserving Amtrak and strengthening the Railroad Retirement system.

"The UTU has left the AFL-CIO in pursuit of a takeover of the BLE either through a merger, a raid or a series of government-sanctioned winner-take-all elections. The UTU's actions have been declared violations of the AFL-CIO Constitution and policies, and the UTU is attempting to convince the National Mediation Board (NMB) to rewrite the rail industry's craft and class system in order to frustrate the union representation rights of locomotive engineers and thousands of other railroad employees.

"In December 2001, the BLE's rank-and-file overwhelmingly voted to reject a proposal to merge with the UTU following a vote by UTU members in favor of the proposal. The UTU should honor the wishes of BLE members, suspend raids against the BLE, withdraw the case before the NMB, and reclaim its seats at the AFL-CIO and the Transportation Trades Department. Only then can this protracted dispute be addressed responsibly and in the interests of railroad workers. And, the NMB should continue to enforce the craft and class system that has been the cornerstone of representation and collective bargaining in the rail industry, and the recruitment of highly skilled and specialized railroad employees, for more than a century.

"Transportation labor is prepared to do what it takes to peacefully resolve these issues. At the same time TTD is prepared to defend the BLE at every turn from any continuing raids on its membership.

"Therefore, Be It Resolved, That TTD Affiliated Unions Will:

"Call on the UTU to withdraw its raiding activities directed at BLE members and its efforts before the NMB to force an unwanted representation election among all railroad operating employees that could result in depriving these workers of any union representation;

"Urge the NMB to dismiss any UTU petition seeking to eliminate the class and craft system in the railroad industry and force representation elections among all rail operating employees;

"Urge the UTU to rejoin the AFL-CIO and the TTD and work from within the House of Labor to resolve any disputes with the BLE; and

"Aggressively defend the BLE and its members in the event the UTU stays on its present course of raiding the BLE's members on North America's railroads."

 

2002 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers