Tuesday, November 10, 2009

UTU moves to keep crew sizes off the bargaining table

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The United Transportation Union says it has asked a federal district court in East St. Louis, Ill., to rule--"yet again"--that the UTU has no obligation to bargain nationally over crew consist.

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"That same federal district court so ruled on March 10, 2006, after the railroads' bargaining agent, the National Carriers' Conference Committee, demanded that the UTU negotiate, at the national level, that crew size be reduced," says the union. "The carriers had sought, during the 2005 round of negotiations, to eliminate conductor and brakemen positions on through freight trains."

At that time the court accepted UTU's contention that "existing agreements relating to minimum train crew size are negotiated on a railroad-by-railroad basis through UTU general committees of adjustment, and any attempt by the carriers to change those agreements must be handled at the general committee level and not in so-called national handling where the major railroads coordinate their bargaining through the NCCC."

In its new petition to the same court, UTU notes that "in serving on the UTU their latest intended amendments to agreementsaffecting rates of pay, rules and working conditions, the NCCC on Nov. 2 said it wants to '[e]xplore opportunities for mutually beneficial alternatives to existing staffing models that enhance safety and productivity, fairly address employee interests and concerns, and recognize the unique opportunities still available to the parties to negotiate meaningful changes.'"