BLET, IC&E at odds over contract

The National Mediation Board released the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the Iowa, Chicago & Eastern Railroad (IC&E) from mediation, opening the door for the next step under the Railway Labor Act.

The National Mediation Board (NMB), the federal overseer of labor-management relations in the rail industry, released the two parties involved in the dispute on September 3. The BLET organized the property in December of 2002, and workers there have been without a contract for nearly two years. BLET and IC&E management have been in mediation for 16 months.

With release from mediation, both labor and management are free to take economic self-help actions. Any job action is also likely to affect the service of the IC&E's sister railroad the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad (DM&E).

"Our members at IC&E have been working without a contract for the past two years," said John Mullen, BLET Short-Line Director. "Kevin Schieffer has refused to seriously address the needs of the employees."

Kevin Schieffer is president of IC&E's parent company, Cedar American Rail Holdings. In recent years, Cedar American Rail Holdings has received authorization from the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to begin DM&E service in the Powder River Basin area to provide rail services to coal shippers. In 2003, they were successful in obtaining a $233 million loan from the Federal Railroad Administration to use for existing debt and track construction and maintenance.

"It is ironic that Cedar Rail Holdings continues to ask the federal government for more money to fund its expansion into Minnesota, while at the same time they are unwilling to meet with elected union representatives," said BLET National President Don Hahs.



© 2004 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen