General Chairman Edington's Letter about Manpower
Mr Rodney Doerr
Union Pacific Railroad Company
1400 Douglas Street, Room 710
Omaha, NE 68179
Dear Mr Doerr:
This office has received many calls regarding Carrier’s overzealous and reckless reduction of extra boards throughout the territory under this General Committee’s jurisdiction. These reductions have violated vacancy procedures, forced employees to work on unfamiliar territories, and incurred a large number of off district claims. For your ready reference, attached is one such example from Eugene, Oregon.
Carrier is fully aware of its obligation under the Crew Consist Agreements to staff boards so as to allow for reasonable lay-off privileges, personal leave opportunities and vacation relief. This agreed-upon contractual provision not only ensures that employees will be afforded time off, but also (of more importance to Carrier) ensures that manpower is readily available to meet the needs of service.
With the recent downturn in business, hundreds of train service employees have been furloughed despite the Organization’s exhaustive efforts to negotiate agreements for AWTS boards. As you know, when staffed and run properly, these boards are extremely valuable not only to the Organization, but to Carrier as well, since they provide an immediate source of manpower when business volumes rise and/or return to normal.
Throughout the railroads’ history, upturns and downturns in business have occurred. It behooves both parties to learn from missteps made during these times. Unfortunately, not only has Carrier failed to learn from its past mistakes, it appears intent upon repeating them.
This Committee has voiced its serious concerns about Carrier’s methodical short-staffing of boards and excessive furloughing. When business volumes return – and they will – Carrier will not be able to meet the needs of service. Instead, as in the past, Carrier will expect its skeleton workforce, already overworked and fatigued, to bear an even heavier burden. Be advised that when this occurs, this General Committee will not grant any relief or concessions for the “new” manpower “crisis” created by Carrier. Moreover, Carrier’s shortcomings will not be blamed on the employees or the Organization, which has presented a variety of solutions to prevent future manpower shortages.
Furthermore, Carrier’s use of waivers issued by the FRA will be considered illegitimate, if used when hundreds of furloughed employees are waiting to be recalled and returned to service.
Finally, it is requested that Carrier take immediate action to increase staffing levels and alleviate the extreme and demanding workload being placed on its operating employees today. This will not only result in a safer work environment for TE&Y employees, but will place Carrier in a more advantageous position when business does return.