BLET contracts protect engineer work
BLET National President Don Hahs dismissed allegations from the United Transportation Union that a recently ratified BLET contract with CSX infringes on UTU work.
"In the first place you can assert anything in a court filing," President Hahs said. "It's up to the court to determine if your filing has merit. The BLET CSX agreement does not violate any UTU agreement and is not a threat to any UTU job."
President Hahs noted that the Vernon award, one of the first major arbitration decisions regarding remote control, is clearly limited to specific types of operations in controlled areas. The new CSX agreement covers all assignments outside of yard/terminal limits, either remote or conventional, as well as all conventional yard assignments.
BLET Vice President Paul T. Sorrow, who spoke on behalf of BLET General Chairmen Tony Smith, Rick Finamore and Don Moates., agreed with President Hahs. He said the new CSX Scope Rules states in part:
"CSXT locomotive engineers whose name appears on the appropriate active engineer's seniority roster will operate conventional (manual control) and non-conventional (remote control) locomotives used outside existing (established) terminal limits. Non-conventional operation will include remote control technology used in CSXT's fleet (either CSXT owned, leased, or used in CSXT operations) when engaged in all road operations, including switching movements in road territory, and where not in conflict with any existing agreement."
BLET General Chairman Moates said: "We have not infringed on any UTU agreement. The UTU remote control agreement does not give the UTU the exclusive right to eliminate and replace locomotive engineers. Locomotive engineers have the right to operate remote control in the performance of their duties as locomotive engineers. The locomotive engineer has always been the individual in immediate, direct control of train motion and of the locomotive itself, regardless of the method used. Our sole objective is to totally secure work that historically, contractually, and futuristically belongs to the craft of locomotive engineer.
"We have always fought to protect the right of both UTU and BLET crafts," Moates continued. "We do not encroach on the work of other crafts and stand ready to assist other crafts in preserving their work - but not at the cost of giving them our work and eliminating the jobs of our own members."
In fact, Vice President Sorrow said the BLET agreement should strengthen BLET's and UTU's crusade against one-person crews.
"In reality we are fighting to maintain maximum crew members on all trains," Sorrow said. "There is no language in the CSX agreement that is detrimental to train service employees and they have crew consist agreements to protect them."
President Hahs said the organization will do all it can to defend itself, its members, and its agreements from frivolous UTU lawsuits. He said the UTU lawsuit "lacks any merit and will most likely be dismissed by any court that understands the railroad industry."
© 2007 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen