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Open Letter Regarding SIngle Man Crews

Feb 12, 2020
Open Letter Regarding SIngle Man Crews image

Brothers and Sisters:

 In the history of our Organization, we have never experienced such an organized attack on labor.  Rail Carriers across the Nation have united with a single purpose – increasing their bottom lines at the expense of our membership and possibly our craft(s).  This means that our membership must be mindful of the importance of solidarity.

 As each of you know, technology has drastically changed the rail industry over the past 30 years, and it continues to transform the industry at an astronomical rate.  The Carriers are spending tremendous amounts of money for this technology, and they hope to recoup those costs through job cuts.  No one can predict the future, but this does not prevent us from protecting our work, our crafts and our members’ livelihoods.

 As our leadership at International is fighting to protect and preserve the integrity of our moratoriums, we cannot ignore the fact that these moratoriums will eventually expire.  When this happens, we will be required to negotiate a new crew consist agreement.

 In the past, when major changes took place, protections were negotiated for all who were affected.  For example, the 2002 UTU Remote Control Agreement contained Reserve Board protections for both Engineers and Trainmen who were adversely affected by Remote Control Operations.  These protections provided our members – both Engineers and Trainmen – with job or earning protections until retirement age.  In the coming years, as moratoriums expire, these protections will be at the forefront of negotiations.  It is for this reason that our Organization must lead those future negotiations. 

 SMART is the only Organization that can negotiate protections for all Train Service employees.  The BLE cannot negotiate protections for our crafts.  In fact, the BNSF and NS each chose the BLE to negotiate single-man crew agreements.  In the agreement with BNSF, the BLE gave up the Conductor position for only two (2) hours at straight time for the Engineer – with zero (0)  protections for the Conductors whose jobs were eliminated.  The BNSF/BLE agreement verbiage reads:

 “2. (a) A locomotive engineer working engineer-only in road service will be paid a special allowance per tour of duty or working start paid on basis of a new day in the amount equal to two hours’ pay at the straight time hourly rate of the applicable position in addition to all other earnings.  In no event will there be more than one such payment to an engineer per tour of duty or working start paid on basis of a new day.”

 On December 19, 2019, in oral arguments before the Court in the moratorium lawsuit, the NCCC referenced the BLE single-man crew agreement, claiming that the Carriers are suffering irreparable damages that cannot be recouped due to SMART-TD blocking their ability to use the BLE’s single-man crew agreements.   

Right now, the other Carriers are pushing UP, for obvious reasons, to obtain a similar agreement with the BLE.  Such an agreement would not only affect our members but also cut-back Engineers working as Trainmen.  These employees would have no protections; they would simply be without a job until they could again hold an Engineer position. 

 This is why we must stand together and fight the Carrier as one.  The operating crafts cannot work independently of each other.  It is true that “by uniting we stand, and divided we fall.”

 I hope that all Trainmen, including those currently cut back from Engine Service, who are not members of SMART will take these facts into consideration.  Choose the Organization that is fighting to retain and ensure a future for all operating crafts. 



Luke Edington

General Chairman



February 2020