Spouses hot over cab temperatures
GIA conducts informational picketing in Houston to protest dangerous Union Pacific cab conditions
In an effort to raise awareness about the dangers of high temperatures in locomotive cabs on the Union Pacific Railroad, GIA members and their families in the Houston area held an informational picket outside of UP's Englewood Yard on August 31.
The picket was organized by GIA Auxiliary 139 President Glenda Sikorski and other members of that auxiliary. The rally began at about 7 a.m. and continued until 3 p.m. with more than a dozen people picketing.
This summer in Texas, temperatures in some locomotive cabs have been more than 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The high temperatures and humidity in Texas, combined with the metal composition of the locomotive cab, creates dangerous conditions for engineers.
"The men and women are subjected to temperatures of 130 degrees for up to 12 hours at a time," said Sikorski. "The heat is also continuously absorbed by the metal in the locomotive and the occupants are essentially being baked.
"This picket was our last resort," she continued. "We sent a registered letter to U.P. to discuss this topic, and they declined to meet with us."
According to GIA Auxiliary 139 member Chandra Barras, some UP employees have become physically ill because of the heat and have had to take time off.
"We hope that Union Pacific will realize the problems associated with the heat before it is too late," Barras said. "UP employees are valuable."
Union Pacific stated recently that 70 percent of its locomotives have air conditioning; however, many of the air conditioned locomotives are not being used as lead locomotives in the train consists. The GIA members and their families believe this shows how little consideration the railroad has for its employees.
"Apparently UP's slogan of safety first does not apply," Sikorski said. "It is safety last and train moving and money first."
The rally received coverage by all the television stations in Houston and the Houston Chronicle newspaper.
Spouses outside Union Pacific's Englewood Yard in the Houston area conduct informational picketing to draw attention to dangerously high temperatures inside UP's locomotive cabs.
© 2001 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers