BLE clarifies UTU, carrier spin on Teamsters

By Don M. Hahs
International President
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers

The United Transportation Union and several carriers are circulating stories asserting that the tentative contract between the Teamsters and major trucking companies adversely affects rail employees by reducing the amount of freight that these companies can ship by rail.

UTU and the rail carriers are collaborating in an attempt to create a rift between BLE members and the Teamsters because they are afraid that a merger that will mean stronger representation for BLE members and will take members away from UTU. As a result, UTU and the carriers want to divert attention from the contract the Teamsters negotiated for their freight members and are trying to derail the BLE-IBT merger in any way they can.

The railroads have more intermodal business available to them than they can currently handle. The amount of intermodal rail traffic handled is limited by the railroads' physical plant and their ability to get the goods to market in a timely manner. The fact that the Teamsters signed a contract that protects their members is not going to affect the amount of intermodal freight hauled by any railroad.

Some transportation experts predict that customer demand is shifting toward short-haul traffic and away from long-haul traffic, which is mostly shipped by rail.

Research indicates that on a tonnage basis, less than one tenth of one percent of the freight shipped by rail comes from trucking companies that operate under the new Teamsters contract. On the basis of tonnage, only 0.01 percent of freight shipped by rail comes from trucking companies covered by the Teamsters National Master Freight Agreement - only 2.1 million tons vs. a total of 21.2 billion tons shipped by rail each year.

The Teamsters freight agreement does not take effect until 2005 and reduces the amount of freight these companies can ship by rail from 28 percent to 26 percent. Only one trucking company actually shipped more than 26 percent by rail in 2002.

The facts simply do not support claims that the members of the BLE or any other rail union will be hurt by the new Teamster agreement. The facts show only that the Teamsters Union negotiated a good contract for its members in the midst of a downturn in the economy.

The false claims being spread by UTU and the carriers are just political spin aimed at keeping BLE members from assessing the benefits of a merger based on the true facts.



© 2003 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers