To court, again, over crew consist

The UTU 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, or what the carriers now are terming, “staffing and consolidation.”

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

The UTU successfully contended 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.

The court agreed in 2006.

But in serving on the UTU their latest intended amendments to agreements affecting rates of pay, rules and working conditions, the NCCC on Nov. 2 said it wants to “Explore 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.”

Citing the March 10, 2006, decision of the federal district court, as well as similar court decisions dating to 1967, the UTU asked that yet another ruling be made that “crew consist or ‘staffing and consolidation’ is not subject to national handling” and that the court award the UTU its costs and attorney’s fees incurred in this proceeding, as well as “such other and further relief as the court deems just and proper.”

To keep current on this round of national handling, click on the “National Rail Contract” link at, where the so-called Section 6 notices of the UTU and the NCCC — intended amendments to agreements affecting rates of pay, benefits and working conditions — are also posted.