Union Pacific GCofAs file remote control lawsuit

In a lawsuit filed on May 15 in the U.S. District Court of Colorado, the General Committees of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE) representing Engineers on the Union Pacific Railroad (UP) filed for injunctive relief to prohibit UP from operating remote controlled locomotives without trained and certified Locomotive Engineers.

BLE General Chairman Michael Young said: "The impact of remote control train operations cannot be overstated. Locomotives without trained and certified Engineers will be operating without anyone physically on-board. These remote control train operations present a serious safety threat to all rail employees, as well as their families, and will certainty place the general public in harm's way. Safety considerations are an obvious high concern for potential train accidents, including those at public road crossings, and further related derailments. However, the elimination of Engineer positions and the potential adverse economic affect it will have on each community served by UP cannot be ignored."

He also stated that: "This action is necessary because the Union Pacific Railroad has improperly and illegally eliminated Engineers' work. By law, such drastic, arbitrary change in work assignments requires negotiation between the parties. BLE is the proper 'holder of the contract' for the craft of Locomotive Engineers and has traditionally, and historically, maintained this Engineer work. UP continues to refuse to discuss or negotiate with the Engineers on our main issues of concern relative to this change."

According to Young, "In many cases job elimination will require Engineers to work hundreds of miles from their home and away from their families." He noted that in a recent meeting in February with John Marchant, UP's Vice President of Labor Relations, the issue of Engineers and their families being required to relocate as a result of this remote control equipment was something that the UP was unwilling to discuss at that time.

At the same meeting, Union Pacific representatives advised BLE that they intend to implement remote control train operations in 21 of their major terminals, and 40 satellite locations, over approximately the next 24 month period. "There is no restriction on what type of commodities the railroad will move with remote control trains in all of these communities, including hazardous materials and nuclear material movements," Young said.

Several accidents have already occurred on most all the nation's major railroads involving these remote control trains, which have caused property damage, compromised the safety of communities and impacted the timely movements of rail shipments of all types. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the safety "watchdog" of the industry, has failed to issue any mandatory regulations regarding remote control equipment.

The BLE General Committees are seeking an injunction to prohibit UP from operating remote control trains until the employees and the general public can be assured of its safe operation.

 

© 2002 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers