Engineers picket CSXT

Informational picketing focuses on professionalism of locomotive engineers, exclusion of BLE from remote control

Locomotive engineers conduct informational picketing at Calera, Ala.

For two days in March, members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers conducted informational picketing against CSX Transportation along the route of a special train carrying the railroad's Board of Directors from New Orleans to Nashville.

The purpose of the informational picketing was to remind corporate officers that locomotive engineers are the rail industry's most highly trained and productive workers - they are the true professionals whom the railroad should be relying upon to operate cutting-edge remote control technology that it introduced earlier this year.

Overall, approximately 300 BLE members participated in the March 5-6 campaign. At key points along the 600-mile route, including New Orleans, Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery and Nashville, BLE members lined the tracks with picket signs and large banners. On March 5, the banners carried messages pointing out the role professional locomotive engineers play in the day-to-day safe operations of the railroad. On March 6, the banners emphasized the significant economic impact the craft of locomotive engineer has on the railroad's bottom line.

These positive messages drew considerate hand waves and responses from passengers on the Board of Directors Special.

At Birmingham and Nashville, leaflets were distributed to managers explaining many of the advantages engineers bring to the railroad's operating plan to increase productivity and safety.

In New Orleans, BLE members participated in a Town Hall meeting with railroad management, the first such meeting along the route. Discussions at the New Orleans meeting were direct and to the point regarding remote control technology.

Management responses to BLE questions were direct. Jobs will be lost as a result of remote control, and CSXT said remote control was not the end of their search for cost-cutting measures. Managers said the railroad will activate approximately 85 remote control units on CSXT property during 2002.

At a similar town hall meeting in Birmingham, BLE General Chairman Cleatus Roy, CSXT-Western Lines, and General Chairman Tony Smith, CSXT-Eastern Lines, attended in support of their members' efforts. General Chairman Smith stressed that the CSXT Eastern and Western Lines pooled their efforts and worked collectively to make sure that the informational pickets were a success.

Organizers of the event, members of the BLE's National Mobilization Team, sent the following message to members of CSXT's Board of Directors:

"It is time for CSXT to acknowledge its engineers and the contribution they make to the total operating success CSXT has experienced in the past years," their statement reads. "CSXT is now number one in customer service, number one in reduction in derailments and fast closing in on Norfolk Southern in safety statistics. All these improvements are a direct result of locomotive engineers meeting the challenges of today's railroad by increasing productivity while, at the same time, improving safety. Acknowledgement in this case means factoring locomotive engineers into their operating strategies for the future.

"(Remote control) is a matter of safety that cannot and will not be ignored," their statement continued. "It is also a matter of jobs and family security for many BLE members and railroad employees. It is the obligation of BLE leaders to resolve this issue and to preserve the rich tradition and future of locomotive engineers."

The BLE International Division and all CSX General Chairmen expressed their appreciation to the hundreds of BLE members who took their personal time to participate in this mobilization campaign. They also thanked General Chairman Gil Gore, Union Pacific-Southern Region, who gave his office and resources to help make this effort a success.

Tommy Hudson (red shirt), Chairman of the Alabama State Legislative Board, gives an interview to members of the media during informational picketing in Birmingham, Ala.



2002 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers