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Railroaders' Nostalgia > ATSF Management Explains Their Position In Labor Dispute


Date: 09/30/19 19:57
ATSF Management Explains Their Position In Labor Dispute
Author: CA_Sou_MA_Agent

Here's something I stumbled across while going through some boxes.  I guess I'm a pack rat.  I guess it has some historical significance now that ATSF is a "fallen flag."  

This pertains to a labor dispute where the UTU and BLE were angry over management operating an experimental "Roadrailer" train.  I remember that picket lines were established but the unions pretty much left Amtrak alone.  Amtrak's "Desert Wind" was re-routed over the UP's Los Angeles Subdivision during the strike.  That was a freight-only piece of railroad at the time (Metrolink's 400-series trains use it now) so a friend of mine and I rode to Vegas and back to get some new mileage and lose some money at the tables.  The reason for the detour was to keep the train off of the Santa Fe.  Between West Riverside and Daggett, they had no choice but to operate the train over the Santa Fe, so managers operated the train on that segment. 

I've heard that the locals for the BLE and UTU were agreeable to the operation of this one-time experimental train with the exception of one local in Illinois.  That's all it took.      



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 10/01/19 13:51 by CA_Sou_MA_Agent.




Date: 10/01/19 07:49
Re: ATSF Management Explains Their Position In Labor Dispute
Author: engineerinvirginia

CA_Sou_MA_Agent Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Here's something I stumbled across while going
> through some boxes.  I guess I'm a pack rat.  I
> guess it has some historical significance now that
> ATSF is a "fallen flag."  
>
> This pertains to a labor dispute where the UTU and
> BLE were angry over management operating an
> experimental "Roadrailer" train.  I remember that
> picket lines were established but the unions
> pretty much left Amtrak alone.  For reasons I
> never quite figured out, Amtrak's "Desert Wind"
> was re-routed over the UP's Los Angeles
> Subdivision during the strike.  That was a
> freight-only piece of railroad at the time
> (Metrolink's 400-series trains use it now) so a
> friend of mine and I rode to Vegas and back to get
> some new mileage and lose some money at the
> tables.   

1986 was not a good time to be railroader....jobs were disappearing fast....anything the even smelled like a lost job was met with hostility.  



Date: 10/03/19 09:46
Re: ATSF Management Explains Their Position In Labor Dispute
Author: BigSkyBlue

engineerinvirginia Wrote:
>
> 1986 was not a good time to be railroader....jobs
> were disappearing fast....anything the even
> smelled like a lost job was met with
> hostility.  

Well said.  BSB 



Date: 10/19/19 00:45
Re: ATSF Management Explains Their Position In Labor Dispute
Author: railscenes

I was a trainman and conductor on the ATSF Ry and active member of UTU Local 445 based in Chillicothe, Illinois, and remember this event well. Our UTU Local 445 was a part of the General Committee that represented trainmen over two of the three grand divisions of the ATSF Ry, the Eastern and Western Lines. It is my disticnt memory of this run that it was immediately declared a major dispute in violation of the agreements in place for reduction of the number of brakemen on each train. The ATSF had a good crew size reduction agreement in place since 1980. Being a major dispute under the federal law, the Railway Labor Act, allows for the employees subject to the requirements of our agreements with the RR to peacefully withdraw from service, meaning going on strike. 
I was local chairman for the trainmen of local 445 during the implementation of the 1980 Crew Consist agreement. It was going to be a long slow process of attrition so that no employee on the roster in 1980 would loose their job due to the crew size reduction. However after a long 4 year stretch of good years and unprecedented hiring we had about 300 trainmen on the Illinois Division. By 1982 when "Reganomics" hit our economy really bad we had only about  200 trainmen left working due to the slow economy and the Midwest turning into the rust belt. It was tough slow times even for those left working. Not as bad as the deep depression of the 1930 era, but not good for the ATSF and it's employees. 
So we think since the ATSF could not reduce the crew size due to the 1980 Crew Consist agreement they got greedy. For six years the crew sizes remained at two brakeman and a conductor to every freight train. (Many years before ATSF trainmen had already agreed to reduce passenger crews to one brakeman and a conductor.) Before the ATSF could start reducing the crew size they would have to call back every trainman who had been laid off due to the huge slow down in business who had been on the roster in 1980. I can understand the frustration of the ATSF, but we (UTU) had negotiated a revolutionary crew reduction agreement in good faith and trust in 1980. But like right now the management wanted it all right now. The ATSF had a government in D.C. and the White House that was on their side and thought the time was right to ignore their agreements with their own loyal employees and make up an excuse to run this "experimental" train with management as the only crew. We said we could man the train just like any other train. There was nothing experimental except that they wanted to see if they could get away with breaking our joint agreement. 
Maybe the "only objection" rumor from our UTU Local 445 in Illinois came from the fact that we were the local who made the initial call to inform the UTU General Chairman that we had a major dispute issue over crew consist. So in a feeble attempt to minimize the major dispute issue the ATSF tried to say it was just one local union that objected. I will agree that after all this time these facts are clouded and some have completely forgotten them or corrupted the facts. But I was there working as a trainman and conductor and was on the picket line in 1986 on the ATSF. 
Later we went on to make new crew consist agreements without strikes with the ATSF. All they had to do was to sit down and make proposals that we could all live with, instead of acting like a big bully.
Steve Rippeteau



Date: 10/19/19 19:03
Re: ATSF Management Explains Their Position In Labor Dispute
Author: SanJoaquinEngr

I was called one afternoon to run the Roadrailer from Gemco, Ca, (van Nuys) General Motors assembly plant to West Colton. Instructed to take the train to interchange with the Santa Fe at Rancho. I had one Santa Re unit. The trailers were loaded with on the return trip with new Firebirds and Camaros. I was amazed how well the train handled like a street car. At the interchange point was greeted by Homer Henry the big cheese RFE. He got on and away the crew went towards Barstow and beyond. It was the one and only time was able to run this train..amazing experience.

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Date: 10/21/19 11:57
Re: ATSF Management Explains Their Position In Labor Dispute
Author: Chico43

Steve,
Thanks for the refresher lesson. The details of issues like this have a way of becoming foggy in one's memory banks as we age and they sink further into the distant past. But I do recall serving as a picket captain on that short strike.



Date: 10/21/19 13:12
Re: ATSF Management Explains Their Position In Labor Dispute
Author: railscenes

Yes, I have made a point of putting those bitter years behind to become more positive in my old age so that I can enjoy family, friends and our hobby of trains.
However, part of that hobby interest leads to an occasional prompting of those old memories. So I try to turn that into a positive experience in sharing my own first hand experience. I have seen some railroaders go ballistic with their own bitterness at railroad oriented meets and discussions. It does not go over well with the common railfan. Plus they are more interested in the history of rail operation than the ugly union vs. management politics. In fact I have been active with the Santa Fe Railway Historical & Modeling Society where I mingle and discuss topics with other railroaders from both blue & white collar sides. As a young local union official I always tried my best to be polite and cordial. Unfortunately there were just a few on both sides who tried to stir things up and try to make us look like the villains. Thanks for reading. Steve Rippeteau

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