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Article XX hearing clarifies several UTU falsehoods

CLEVELAND, Feb. 27 -- AFL-CIO Impartial Umpire Paul Weiler clarified several United Transportation falsehoods in rendering his Article XX decision in favor of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers.

In its filing before the National Mediation Board, the UTU argued that "the line between the craft or class of engineers on the one hand, and conductors and trainmen on the other, has been blurred to the point of practical extinction."

Based on this, the UTU has sought to eliminate the crafts of engineer, conductor and brakeman and force a representation election between itself and the BLE.

However, Umpire Weiler disagreed with the UTU on this point and ruled in favor of the BLE.

"There is no doubt that engineers, conductors, and trainmen all play vital and collaborative roles in the efficient and safe operation of the trains they run together. However, there is no interchange of the key functions performed by such employee classification on the train," Weiler ruled.

"The UTU's filing of this consolidation/ representation petition with the NMB constituted a violation of BLE's established bargaining relationship at Union Pacific."

-- AFL-CIO Article XX Ruling

In addition, the UTU argued that the blurring of craft lines could indirectly be attributed to the progression from brakeman to conductor to engineer. However, Umpire Weiler again sided with the BLE and ruled that while the line of progression is firmly established, it is not grounds for one affiliate to force a consolidation with another.

"For Article XX purposes, though, the key question is whether one AFL-CIO affiliate can make such a consolidation request of the NMB where the result would be to absorb and thence eliminate the craft unit and established bargaining relationship of its fellow affiliate," Weiler wrote.

"The distinctive form of integration that now exists in the railroad industry involves the periodic transfer of trainmen and conductors covered by the UTU contract to the position of engineer covered by the BLE contract, and sometimes a transfer back.

"That kind of employee ebb and flow is, of course, by no means unusual as between separate bargaining units within the same company. Yet no Article XX cases were cited that found this kind of job change to justify consolidation of previously established relationships.

"Railroads like Union Pacific do now have a considerably more formalized 'mandatory progression system,' under which UTU has secured for its trainmen-conductor members the right (and obligation) to training, promotion, and higher pay on the way to becoming an engineer.

"However, that program began more than a quarter century ago, it reached its current key contractual definition in 1985, and there have been no recent changes of consequence that would justify the Umpire finding that BLE's long-time relationship has been (or could be) dis-established in 1998.

"Indeed, even if this progression system had been recently created, it would not likely warrant a different verdict. There does seem to be a major problem for Article XX principle to conclude that, just because one affiliate has secured for its members the contractual right to move into vacant and attractive positions in another unit, this means the affiliate also gains the Article XX freedom to seek elimination of the established relationship of the other union representing the latter position.

"For all of the above reasons, I find that the UTU's filing of this consolidation/representation petition with the NMB constituted a violation of the BLE's established bargaining relationship at Union Pacific."

BLE readies troops after Article XX win

CLEVELAND, March 4 -- In ruling that the United Transportation Union had violated the AFL-CIO constitution by attempting to raid the membership of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, Umpire Paul Weiler also rejected UTU's countercharge that the BLE was in violation for preparing to defend itself against the UTU campaign.

"The fact is the UTU has waged war against the BLE on the Union Pacific/Southern Pacific railroad," said BLE President Clarence Monin. "Our members have every right to defend themselves against this attack."

Weiler on Feb. 27 ruled that the UTU's effort to get the National Mediation Board to combine the crafts of engineer, conductor and trainman into a single "Train and Engine Service Employee" violated Article XX of the labor Federation's constitution, which prohibits unions from raiding other affiliated unions. The UTU is seeking a representation election on the UP-SP, where it has more members than the BLE, and has indicated it will seek elections on other rail lines.

Reacting to the UTU attack, BLE Division 74 distributed a flyer calling on members to counter the campaign by reaching out to UTU members on their trains, urging them to join the BLE. Weiler found no violation in this BLE communication to its own members, citing other precedents in noting "there is a distinction between 'preparing for war and initiating war.'"

"We have not initiated this war, but we're not going to run from it either," Monin said. "We are gearing up our mobilization teams on the UP-SP and elsewhere. We are ready, willing, and able to beat the UTU at its own game if it persists in pursuing this course."

The BLE held a special information and training session on how to mobilize against the UTU attack March 13-14 in Las Vegas.

"Every division on the UP-SP system sent a representative to the meeting," Monin said.

Monin noted that the union's Mobilization Department was created at the 1996 international convention to help the BLE secure a better contract in negotiations in 1999, but that now that it is in place, it can be used "to protect rail operating crafts and seniority rosters from being destroyed by the UTU."

"This is more than a war between unions, it's a war between competing visions for rail workers," he said. "We are determined to protect the crafts of locomotive engineer, conductor and trainman, which the UTU seeks to destroy. We believe these crafts are all entitled to have distinctive respect as professionals in the railroad industry."

Monin also issued a challenge to all BLE members to help in the battle to preserve their craft and their union.

"Our individual members will play a vital role in our mobilization efforts," he said. "I have a lot of faith that the commitment and intensity that locomotive engineers will bring to this struggle to preserve craft autonomy will result in nothing but success.

"The financial reserves we have accumulated will fund our battles," he said. "While we would rather invest our capital in bargaining with the carriers, we're perfectly able to fend off the UTU on the way to the negotiating table. It's a shame that UTU has chosen to waste its membership dues money and the money of its insurance association in a hostile takeover attempt."

Despite UTU's current antagonism, the BLE would rather pursue a different course and move toward mutually beneficial relations that will foster labor solidarity, Monin said.

"The most pressing need both unions have is representing our members in negotiations with our employers. No true union member wants to see a fight among unions."

BMWE, BRS condemn UTU in brief to NMB

CLEVELAND, March 11 -- In a brief filed before the National Mediation Board on March 2, leaders of two rail labor unions condemned the United Transportation Union's attempt to raid the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers.

The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes and the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen harshly criticized the UTU for its attempt to eliminate the crafts of locomotive engineer, conductor and brakeman and lump them all into one "Train and Engine Service Employee" craft.

"Despite UTU's rhetoric, its application must be recognized for what it is: a gambit that seeks to have (the NMB) rig up a radically different craft structure for the sole purpose of destroying a standard labor organization," the brief read.

Read the entire BMWE-BRS brief

Turn to Page 7

BMWE and BRS leaders also said that NMB agreement to the UTU request would create havoc and turmoil in the labor-management relationship, and warned that "acquiescence to the UTU's demands would constitute a partisan intervention in the differences that divide rail labor."

On January 12, the UTU filed a petition before the NMB and argued that "the line between the craft or class of engineers on the one hand, and conductors and trainmen on the other, has been blurred to the point of practical extinction." Based on this false assumption, the UTU asked the NMB to declare that a representation disputes exists on all Class I railroads and order a series of representation election beginning on the Union Pacific Railroad.

The March 2 BMWE-BRS brief comes on the heels of the February 27 AFL-CIO Article XX ruling that found the UTU in violation of the federation's constitution by attempting to raid BLE membership. In addition, the Rail Labor Division of the AFL-CIO's Transportation Trades Department issued a January 13 resolution condemning the UTU's raiding attempt.

The NMB set March 17 as the deadline to receive all supplemental briefs, and will hold a formal hearing prior to making a decision.

The full text of the joint BMWE-BRS brief is on page 7.



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