BLET member reminds UTU leader of reality
(BLET Editor's note: What follows are portions of a letter from retired Norfolk Southern engineer and BLET Member Chris Kopf to UTU National Legislative Director Jim Brunkenhoefer.)
Dear Mr. Brunkenhoefer:
After reading from the United Transportation Union web site, and from a circular that they put out, I felt the need to rebut some of the things that they have said.
As you know I was a member of both the UTU and the BLE and double headed whenever I wasn't serving as an officer of the union. My feeling was, if I wanted a voice I had better be a member. I was a UTU-E Local Chairman for a good many years on the Penn Central Railroad and on Conrail before switching to the BLE. I switched for good, after seeing first hand how craft autonomy worked within the UTU regarding engine service members.
The UTU says, "Crew-consist and remote control agreements protect UTU members from total elimination via the adverse effects of new technology." The truth is, the October 31, 1985 UTU agreement allows engineers who can't hold an engineer's position due to the adverse effects of new technology to bump onto a trainman's position. If RC operators are doing more work than the engineers they replaced, shouldn't the RC operators make at least as much as the engineers that they replaced? The only person the UTU has ever protected was the pre-85 trainman.
History is clear, the UTU has bargained away the craft and class of firemen, and bargained away the jobs of flagmen, brakemen, and engineers. They now want to roll conductors and engineers into a bastard craft that is neither conductor nor engineer. They are willing to sell engineers' and conductors' rights and seniority away in order to be the sole representative for whoever or whatever is left.
If the NS trainmen elect to be represented by the BLET, they will be able to enjoy self determination for their own craft. They may choose to have their own general committees if they so wish. Trainmen will have their own local chairman, who will address issues that are unique to their craft. They will have the right to vote on their own contract. The door is now open for all rail labor to join together in one strong union.
© 2005 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen