BLET sets the record straight on UTU spin doctoring

When sorting through the UTU's latest smoke and mirrors attempt to obscure the truth (UTU website post, "How to smoke out a pair of skunks," August 5), BLET and UTU members need to keep one fact in mind:

No amount of spin doctoring will obscure the truth.

Here is a link to UTU's proposed contract agreement with BNSF, in which UTU leaders propose the elimination of yard engineers from Rivergate Yards in Portland. Not only do UTU leaders propose eliminating these locomotive engineer jobs, they further propose using ground crew employees qualified as engineers to operate locomotives in a conventional manner.

BLET and UTU members can recognize a sell-out when they see one. No amount of UTU spin doctoring can obscure that fact. A sell-out is a sell-out, no matter how UTU tries to spin it.

BLET General Chairman Dennis Pierce (BNSF/MRL), a major target in UTU's August 5 attack, clarified the real story behind the UTU sell out in a letter to his Committee today.

Brother Pierce makes it clear that he has not "climbed in bed" with BNSF management, as UTU falsely claims. In fact, he has had no formal meetings with the carrier regarding this issue as the only formal meetings that took place were between UTU and BNSF in BLET's absence. While BLET requested a joint meeting with UTU and BNSF, UTU ignored the request. BLET generated no written contract proposals with the carrier on this issue, however, the UTU did. The UTU has put in writing its willingness to sell out engineers.

What BLET informally suggested was that both unions, BLET and UTU adopt the jointly negotiated compromise agreement that UTU and BLET agreed to on another portion of the BNSF property in 2004. That agreement left one engineer and one conductor on the job in return for agreement language preventing the sale of the line. Brother Pierce notes that it was UTU that agreed to open up its crew consist agreement and eliminate the brakeman's position in order to prevent the line sale in Texas, not BLET. No negotiations occurred concerning the groundmen's craft without UTU present in the Texas case, nor did BLET suggest any occur in the Portland case.

Pierce further explains:

"Without getting into each and every tired old accusation that UTU has peppered its post with, you can rest assured that BLET did no negotiating behind closed doors to attack the groundmen's craft," he said. "Once notified of the proposed sale, we asked for a joint meeting with UTU and BNSF to discuss the possible adoption of the attached agreements. Ironically, unlike any agreements that UTU has negotiated on its own, the agreements that BLET proposed considering actually have hard fast language preventing the Carrier from selling the covered portion of the operation so long as the agreement is in effect. UTU obtained no such protection in its remote control sell out, in fact yards where UTU represented employees operate RCO are also up for sale and UTU has no agreement to prevent the sales.

"As for our request to meet jointly, UTU did not even respond, instead they met alone with BNSF behind closed doors in our absence, returning to their offices after the meeting to draft an agreement that was clearly intended to eliminate a craft for which UTU holds no jurisdiction on this property."

A copy of Brother Pierce's letter, along with all attachments, are available here:



© 2005 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen