Neutrals picked for remote control arbitration; Deadline extended

From a final list furnished by the National Mediation Board, the remote control arbitration board neutral member and "deadlock" neutral member were selected on September 20 by the parties involved in the dispute.

The neutral member and chairman of the arbitration board will be Gil Vernon, a long-time and well-respected arbitrator in the rail industry. The "deadlock" neutral member will be James McDonnell, also a reputable and experienced rail arbitrator. McDonnell will attend all board hearings and consider the written filings, but will not participate in the board's executive sessions or deliberations. He will cast a sealed vote that will be used only in the case of a deadlock.

The upcoming arbitration hearings will determine whether Locomotive Engineers or trainmen have the right to operate remote control technology.

"We are pleased with the selections of these two fine arbitrators," said BLE President Don M. Hahs. "We are confident they will make a fair and accurate decision in this important case."

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and United Transportation Union will each have one vote in the proceedings, while six railroad companies (BNSF, Conrail, CSX, KCS, NS and UP) will have one total vote. Arbitrator Vernon will also have one vote.

The three parties could not agree on a single question to pose to the arbitrators, so each party submitted its own question. The arbitration panel will render a decision on the questions posed by each of the parties.

The BLE question states, "The assignment of other than locomotive engineers to operate locomotives via remote control in connection with the movement of cars, trains and/or engines in terminal operations is a violation of the exclusive rights of locomotive engineers to perform such service pursuant to existing BLE Agreements and established practice."

In a related event, the BLE announced on October 8 that the deadlines for the exchange and filing of submissions and the convening of the arbitration hearing was extended by two weeks. The BLE, UTU and Carriers agreed to this extension following the death of Bettie (Betts) Miller, wife of UTU General Counsel Clint Miller. Mrs. Miller succumbed to a lengthy illness on October 3, and the BLE has issued its condolences to the Miller family.

Now, the opening and reply submissions are due October 29 and November 13, 2002, respectively. The Arbitration Agreement provides for the Board to commence hearings within 10 days after the reply submissions have been exchanged.

It is expected that a decision will be reached by the arbitration board before the end of the year.



© 2002 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers