On February 24, 2017, SMART-Transportation Division General Counsel in Cleveland, Ohio along with SMART-TD Designated Legal Counsel Robert E. Harrington, III of Harrington, Thompson, Acker & Harrington, Ltd. filed a federal lawsuit in Illinois seeking injunctive relief against CSX Transportation, Inc.
CSXT Violates Bargaining Agreements By Proposing Replacement of Union Jobs with Untrained Workers
Just this past month, CSXT began the process of unilaterally and illegally abolishing Yardmaster jobs through its railroad yards. Specifically, every yardmaster job in Decatur, Illinois has been abolished along with all five Yardmaster jobs in Wilmington, North Carolina. CSXT has advised SMART-TD that they intend to abolish 100 Yardmaster positions throughout their system in the coming weeks.
Of course, this on the heels of CSXT reporting that it intends to cut 1,000 jobs from its system immediately. CSXT’s decision to include protected union jobs in their downsizing efforts is both illegal and in direct violation of a prior 2002 collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The CBA dictates that specific coordination of trains and switching operations in yards must be performed by a unionized Yardmaster. CSXT has countered to SMART-TD representatives that managers (i.e., Trainmasters) or computers can and will perform Yardmaster work from this point forward where needed. Not only is this in direct violation of a CBA on the subject, but also unsafe.
This is what “Right to Work” legislation looks like for railroad workers – untrained management employees directing yard movements. It is consistent with what former Canadian Pacific CEO, Hunter Harrison, who is now looking to take over CSXT, has done in the past — run trains with white collar managers instead of unionized, trained craft employees.
The Impact of Right to Work Policies on Public Safety is Real (and It’s Scary)
During Harrison’s reign at Canadian Pacific, he cut its workforce by 1,500 people. He filled the gaps with non-union employees. Often those employees were office workers, asked to step away from their sedentary desk jobs and run freight. White collar workers at CP spend 25% of their time running trains and not at their desks. To do so, CP started requiring all non-unionized employees to be “trained” in freight service.
Sadly, a 2016 Canadian Transportation Safety Board report found that non-unionized employees at CP were receiving significantly less training than their unionized counterparts. The report disclosed that non-union employees only obtained approximately 20 on-the-job training trips while unionized employees received an average of 73 trips. Of course, this lack of training increases the risk of accident and injury to not only employees, but to the public at large. It is literally an accident waiting to happen.
Right to Work is Bad for the American Worker
People always ask:
- “What does my union do for me?”
- “Why do I even belong to this union?”
- “What does the union do for the public good?”
The answers are many, but just a few are perfectly illustrated here:
- Your union protects your job when your employer seeks to violate the contract they agreed to and take your job away.
- Your union helps you obtain the right to have the job in the first place.
- Your union helps train you to be safe so that you can go home at night to your family or so that your train doesn’t derail and damage the lives and property of nearby towns you run through daily.
- Your union gives you a voice when your employer clearly doesn’t want you to have one.
The Republican controlled Congress has introduced a National Right to Work law. And while our President claims to be a friend of the working man and woman, his Press Secretary recently reiterated his pledge to enact this dangerous legislation.
Please contact your local Congressman or Congresswoman to stress your opposition to Right to Work legislation. For the main switchboard to the U.S. Congress, dial 202-224-3121.
Most importantly, pay your dues, go to a union meeting — be heard. Another day longer is another day stronger!