We’ll fight with fire in belly for what’s right!

September 23, 2009

By UTU International President Mike Futhey

We accept that managing employees isn’t a popularity contest. But it need not be an unpopularity contest.

I share with each of you the concern over ratcheted-up harassment, intimidation and excessive discipline. There is no more economic sense to make out of this than there is common sense.

I was recently told of an incident where an experienced conductor’s work was interrupted no fewer than 18 times over a six-hour period to quiz him on operating rules. Such unjustifiable scrutiny contributes to an unsafe workplace, as the results are used to punish rather than to educate.

When employees in safety-sensitive positions are put in a position where their primary focus at work is defending themselves, their ability to do their jobs efficiently and safely is jeopardized. That is not in the offending carrier’s best interest, certainly not in the customers’ best interest, and absolutely not in the best interests of operating efficiently and safely.

We are putting a coalition together with other labor organizations to stop this unwarranted activity. First, we want to hear from you. On the UTU’s home page, at www.utu.org,  there is a link to contact information for each of the International’s senior officers.

Please, tell us the problems, with examples and details. Help us to teach the carriers we are going to represent our members and are not going to be silent while our members continue to be harassed, intimidated and excessively disciplined to the point of putting their limbs and lives in jeopardy. These members cannot focus on doing their jobs efficiently and safely.

No member should constantly have to look over their shoulder.

As the carriers’ attempt at tortured interpretations and applications of our agreements, we will fight them in the courts in Fort Worth, we will fight them on the properties from Jacksonville to Norfolk to Omaha, and we will not go quietly into the night. We will stand and fight.

Our message to the carriers is simple: We want our members properly trained, and then we expect the carries to leave us alone and let us do our work efficiently and safely.

On behalf of our members, we will — in the words of former President Al Chesser — “stand and fight with fire in the belly for what is right.”