NMB victory!

Board dismisses UTU application for single-craft on KCS

The National Mediation Board on August 14 dismissed the United Transportation Union's application to create a single craft of "Train and Engine Service Employees" on the Kansas City Southern Railway.

The UTU filed the application in September of 2001, seeking the establishment of the new craft and requesting a representation election on the KCS.

"This is another major victory - not only for the BLE - but for all Labor in the battle to preserve historic operating craft lines," said BLE International President Don Hahs. "I thank the new members of the Board and Chairman Duggan for making the right decision. The fact that the UTU's application was dismissed outright, without a hearing, demonstrates that it was a baseless case without merit."

On August 1, the Senate confirmed Harry Hoglander and Edward Fitzmaurice as Board members. Hoglander succeeded Magdalena Jacobsen and Fitzmaurice filled the vacant position left by Ernie Dubester, whose term had previously expired.

The NMB's decision was reached in part based on an amicus brief filed by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the AFL-CIO in support of the BLE.

Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa hailed the decision, saying "The NMB has once again rejected UTU's attempt to create a new legalistic strategy to raid long-established BLE jurisdiction. The NMB's decision is soundly based on established precedent and the fundamental need for stability in the law and bargaining relationships that is embodied in the Railway Labor Act. We congratulate BLE President Don Hahs and the rest of the BLE and its members on this important victory. The Teamsters Union was pleased to be able to assist in obtaining the correct result."

The August 14 decision marks the second time the NMB has denied a UTU attempt to force single-craft elections on a Class 1 railroad. On Feb. 29, 2000, the NMB dismissed a similar UTU request on the nation's largest railroad, Union Pacific.

In dismissing the UTU application, the NMB ruled in the BLE's favor on a number of points to confirm that two distinct operating crafts exist on the Class 1 railroad.

The Board noted the fact that locomotive engineers are Federally certified while conductors are not.

"Although train service employees and engineers have joint responsibilities, such as the safe operation of the train, most of their duties are job specific," the NMB ruled. "In addition, engineers are required to obtain Carrier certification in accordance with Federal regulations."

The UTU had argued that "mandatory progression" from trainman to engineer is one reason why the crafts should be combined. The NMB sided with the BLE on this issue, ruling that, "When the need for engineers increases, the most senior qualified train service employees willing to work in engine service are called up. There is no forced 'promotion' to engine service..."

The NMB also cited a lack of cross-utilization among train service employees and engine service employees as proof that the crafts are not combined.

"During the period June 15, 2001, through Sept. 15, 2001, 45 our of 1,219 (3.7 percent) operating employees worked in both train service and engine service," the NMB ruled. "Accordingly, the UTU application is... dismissed."

The House of Labor viewed the UTU's attempts to combine operating crafts and force representation elections as a way of raiding the BLE. The AFL-CIO, Teamsters, and members of the AFL-CIO's Transportation Trades Department condemned the UTU single-craft attack as a back-door raid on the BLE. The AFL-CIO constitution forbids one affiliate from raiding another. The AFL-CIO Executive Committee adopted a resolution allowing victims of raiding (like the BLE) to pursue financial reparations from the attacking union (UTU). In March of 2000, the UTU pulled out of the AFL-CIO to avoid these potential sanctions.

"I thank the AFL-CIO, the Teamsters, and all the TTD affiliates for their solidarity and undivided assistance toward passing resolutions that supported the BLE in this endeavor," President Hahs said. "I also thank our attorney, Roland Wilder, who did an outstanding job on this case."

The NMB ruling also reemphasized railroad management's support of the UTU's single-craft theory. "This gives the impression that UTU International officers are carrying out the wishes of rail management," Hahs said.

Portions of the NMB's ruling read:

"The National Railway Labor Conference... think[s] it clear on its face that in today's circumstances, representation of a single craft or class of operating employees, rather than divided crafts, would create a more stable and constructive labor relations environment, thereby improving railroad operations."

The Board also noted those labor organizations that petitioned the NMB in favor of the BLE's position: Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen; American Train Dispatchers Dept.; United Steelworkers of America; Transport Workers Union of America; International Association of Fire Fighters; International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers; Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes; Sheet Metal Workers' International Association; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; and the AFL-CIO's Transportation Trades Department.

A copy of the NMB's decision is available on the BLE website. ·

 

© 2002 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers