AFL-CIO urges NMB to dismiss UTU motion

Reconsideration of UP case would impair NMB credibility

The AFL-CIO has once again acted in support of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, this time in strongly urging the National Mediation Board to dismiss the UTU's motion for reconsideration in the Union Pacific case.

Using its strongest language yet, the AFL-CIO said the NMB would "seriously impair (its) credibility and impartiality" if it granted UTU's motion.

The AFL-CIO took this position in a March 27 brief filed with NMB Chief of Staff Stephen E. Crable. In it, the AFL-CIO expressed concern about the "integrity of the Board's processes" and the apparent collaboration between UTU and the National Railway Labor Conference in petitioning for reconsideration.

"The AFL-CIO's concern about the integrity of the Board's processes is heightened by the National Railway Labor Conference's (NRLC) sudden attempt to inject itself in this matter on March 16 by inviting the Board to 'schedule hearings' on a supposed inconsistency between the Panel determination and the Board's simultaneously issued decision in Texas Mexican Ry. Co., 27 NMB No. 46 (March 1, 2000)," the AFL-CIO wrote. "Although the NRLC letter does not support UTU's motion for reconsideration and seeks only some undefined later reconciliation of the holdings in the two now-concluded cases, its timing and apparent collaboration with UTU at least implicitly solicits the Board to do what we submit is foreclosed, namely, reconsider the substance of its decision in Union Pacific."

In its motion for reconsideration, UTU argued that the NMB's Tex Mex ruling, which forced the creation of a combined Train and Engine Service Employee craft on that carrier (see page 7), is justifiable grounds for re-opening the Union Pacific case, in which a three-person panel of labor relations experts correctly ruled that locomotive engineers and conductors belong to two distinct, separate crafts.

The AFL-CIO warned that using the Tex Mex case as a basis for reconsideration of the Union Pacific case would severely damage the Board's credibility and impartiality.

"It is inconceivable that the Board would risk issuance of doctrinally incompatible decisions on the very same day. For the Board to declare now that this occurred - which it did not - would expose the Board to a deserved loss of confidence by the regulated community, and would even call its competence into question," the AFL-CIO wrote.

Finally, the AFL-CIO expressed concern about the Board's credibility and impartiality if it grants UTU's motion for reconsideration in the Union Pacific case.

"We conclude with the following observation, again concerning the Board's credibility and impartiality. The Board issued its Texas Mexican determination and dismissal on the precise date that the Board itself prescribed last December for the Panel to issue its Union Pacific determination. If the Board believed that its consideration of Texas Mexican had bearing on the Panel's consideration of Union Pacific - a case with a notably high public profile and involving great stakes for both union parties and the carrier - surely the Board would have either issued Texas Mexican earlier or alerted the Panel to that case so that its decision could conform with most current Board law And, even if, as UTU contends, the Board's adoption of the Panel's determination and dismissal of UTU's application were decisions legally distinct from the Panel's action, it is just as inconceivable that the Board itself would render simultaneous contradictory decisions within 24 hours of each other, and it would be just as injurious to its integrity and standing for the Board now to declare that it did."

A complete copy of the AFL-CIO's March 27 brief to the NMB is available on the BLE website in PDF format at:

http://www.ble.org/aflcio0327.pdf

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