North Platte engineers reject UP scheduling proposal

A plan intended to eliminate unpredictable work schedules for Locomotive Engineers was rejected by BLE members on the Union Pacific Railroad in a North Platte, Neb., ratification vote on October 4.

The six-month trial agreement would have established scheduled reporting times for about 100 Engineers who operate trains on the North Platte to South Morrill, Neb., coal line. Engineers would have known weeks in advance of their scheduled work times and rest days.

"Earlier this year our membership at North Platte demanded development of a schedule for over-the-road engineers that would meet a balance between work and home life," said BLE General Chairman Michael Young. "This proposed agreement contained 146 guaranteed scheduled days off annually (about 40% of the year), and appeared to meet that challenge.

"The proposed plan was innovative with advanced work/rest scheduling designs," Young added. "It represented tremendous cultural change for both our membership, and management, which may have accounted for the lack of acceptance at North Platte."

Some Locomotive Engineers who voted against the plan say it could have reduced their pay by up to $15,000 per year.

Scientific studies conducted in fatigue management show predictable work times and rest periods have the potential for reducing, if not eliminating, fatigue in the railroad industry. Because of the current unpredictable crew-on-demand system that train crew members currently live with, fatigue continues to be cited as the number one safety priority for Locomotive Engineers.

In addition to the scheduling project, the proposed agreement would have established a new pay system that guaranteed Engineers earning minimums on a per-trip basis, with additional compensation for overtime, away from home expenses and other items.

The proposal was defeated by a 134-3 margin.


2000 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers