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United Transportation Union v. Alton & Southern Railway Co.

March 10, 2006

UNITED TRANSPORTATION UNION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE ALTON & SOUTHERN RAILWAY COMPANY, THE BURLINGTON NORTHERN SANTA FE RAILWAY COMPANY, CSX TRANSPORTATION, INC., THE KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN RAILWAY COMPANY, MANUFACTURERS RAILWAY OMPANY, NORFOLK SOUTHERN ORPORATION, TERMINAL RAILROAD SSOCIATION OF ST. LOUIS, AND UNION ACIFIC RAILROAD COMPANY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Murphy, Chief District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This case involves a labor dispute between United Transportation Union (UTU) and a coalition of freight railroads (Defendant Carriers) regarding two notices served on UTU under Section 6 of the Railway Labor Act (RLA), 145 U.S.C. § 156, (Section 6 Notices) by Defendant Carriers' agent, the National Carriers' Conference Committee (NCCC). For purposes of collective bargaining with their employees, Defendant Carriers generally bargain together as a multi-employer group and are represented by NCCC. This process is known as national handling. The current round of bargaining began November 1, 2004, with the exchange of Section 6 Notices between UTU and Defendant Carriers, and they have engaged in national handling of the issues raised by the Notices; however, UTU maintains the impropriety of the two Section 6 Notices at issue in this case -- the Staffing/Consolidation Proposal and the Joint Legislative Proposal. They state as follows:

Staffing/Consolidation

New technologies introduced over the last twenty years enable significant change in job content and design in railroad transportation. The safety and efficiency of railroad operations have been enhanced through these developments, and the benefits have flowed substantially to the shipping public and national economy overall. Present and emerging technologies promise productivity improvements that will advance this critical change process.

Despite recent volume and revenue growth, the industry still struggles to fund the enormous infusion of capital needed immediately to deliver service expected by our customers and to expand capacity essential to sustained growth. The railroads' current labor cost model (which still mandates staffing levels that require the employment of more people than are necessary to conduct the business and imposes above market wage and benefit costs) produces relentless labor cost inflation, and is incompatible with the industry's capital requirements over the period covered by the new bargaining round. Clearing the path for healthy capital investment through labor model reform will lead to steady business growth, new job opportunities in the long run, and a stronger, more balanced national transportation system. Moreover, the railroad industry's current demographics present a unique opportunity to effect such changes with minimal employee impact.

PROPOSED CHANGES:

A. 1. All train and engine service positions shall be consolidated. The consolidated position shall be known as "transportation employee" and shall be governed by a common collective bargaining agreement.

2. Subsequent to consolidation, the work formerly performed separately by the train and engine service positions shall be performed by qualified transportation employees.

3. Concurrent with consolidation, crew size shall be based on operational needs as determined by the railroad.

4. Representatives of the railroad and of the transportation employees shall jointly negotiate an equitable distribution of the work among transportation employees. In the event the parties are unable to reach agreement, the matter shall be referred to final and binding arbitration.

5. Representatives of the railroad and of the transportation employees shall jointly negotiate an equitable protective arrangement in connection with these changes. In the event the parties are unable to reach agreement, the matter shall be referred to final and binding arbitration.

B. Absent agreement on staffing/consolidation, to the extent that any collective bargaining agreement requires a crew size which exceeds operational needs, the compensation of the entire crew shall not exceed the compensation which would have been paid to the crew had crew staffing been determined by the railroad by the operational needs alone. Such reduced compensation shall be divided equally among the crew members.

Joint Legislative Proposal

The Federal Employers' Liability Act (enacted in 1908) governs compensation for on-the-job injuries in the railroad industry. The FELA is outmoded, counterproductive and should be replaced. Among the Act's many faults:

* It creates an adversarial relationship between employer and employee.

* Some injured employees get nothing while others receive ...


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