The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART-TD) have filed suit against Amtrak over implementation of its COVID-19 vaccine policy.
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and the SMART Transportation Division (SMART–TD) have each filed Motions for Preliminary Injunctions against Norfolk Southern in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, “to stop the railroad from forcing locomotive engineers to work as conductors, and for disciplining those who don’t.”
Call it the Twilight Zone of reality when three rail labor unions embrace the convictions of extreme-right public figures Tucker Carlson (Fox News), Republican Governors Greg Abbott (Texas) and Ron DeSantis (Florida), and Republican Senators Ted Cruz (Texas) and Rand Paul (Kentucky) and oppose vaccine mandates intended to protect society against the deadly COVID-19 virus and its Delta variant.
CN and Kansas City Southern (KCS) on June 23 cited four letters by rail labor filed with the Surface Transportation Board (STB) in support of their proposed voting trust. Three of those letters, from local general committees of the same union, contradict the international’s position.
SMART Transportation Division (SMART-TD) President Jeremy R. Ferguson has sent a letter to Canadian Pacific (CP) President and CEO Keith Creel stating that the union he runs generally supports what CP and Kansas City Southern (KCS) are seeking from the Surface Transportation Board for their merger.
A Pyrrhic win is a victory that inflicts such a devastating toll on the victor that it is equivalent to a defeat, because it takes a heavy toll that negates any true sense of achievement or damages long-term progress. The phrase originates from a quote from Pyrrhus of Epirus, whose triumph against the Romans in the Battle of Asculum in 279 BC destroyed much of his army and, while a tactical victory, forced the end of his campaign. If you examine it closely, the Aug. 28 U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit vacating an injunction that forced Sheet Metal, Air, Rail Workers-Transportation Division (SMART-TD) General Committees to bargain over crew consist size and redeployment is a Pyrrhic victory for the union.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt presiding, on Aug. 28 issued its decision in BNSF et al v. SMART-TD (Case No. 20-10162) concerning crew consist size, vacating an injunction that forced Sheet Metal, Air, Rail Workers-Transportation Division (SMART-TD) General Committees to bargain over crew consist size and redeployment, despite the existence of moratoria that bar such negotiation. The National Railway Labor Conference (NRLC), which represents the carriers, while acknowledging the court’s decision, countered that the union’s objections are subject to arbitration, and as such bolster the railroads’ efforts to negotiate over crew size. One industry observer, who has been on both sides of the bargaining table, says SMART-TD leadership is not acting in the best interests of the membership they represent.
This is about a railroad labor union committed to serving its dues paying members, and a rail industry losing its core revenue traffic—coal—and now facing off against omnipresent low-cost, non-union truckers for the trailers and containers comprising much of the railroads’ future traffic base. It’s about new technology—the product of knowledge that for centuries has transformed the nature, quality and quantity of work. In this instance, the technology is Positive Train Control (PTC), a safety overlay system substituting artificial intelligence for engineer inattention or distraction. PTC, as does most new technology, creates job redundancies.