Unions join together to thwart Norfolk Southern’s effort to eliminate train service crafts

Published: September 30, 2021

CLEVELAND, Ohio (Sept. 30, 2021) — The Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART-TD) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) have joined forces to defeat efforts by Norfolk Southern Railway to supplant the train service crafts of conductors and brakemen by calling locomotive engineers to work their assignments.

SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson and BLET National President Dennis Pierce issued the following joint statement regarding their action:

“On October 24, 2018, Norfolk Southern Railway announced plans to implement Precision Scheduled Railroading. PSR is an operational scheme that makes irrational cuts to employment, maintenance and service levels to generate artificially higher profit rates for hedge funds and similar investors.

“Because of PSR, NS has eliminated the jobs of over 35% of its operating crew members since December 2018. NS also has been fighting since the summer of 2019 to cut the size of operating crews by half.

“As part of its plan to simply eliminate the train service crafts of conductor and brakeman, NS has willfully depleted its train service workforce. The shortage of conductors and brakemen is so severe that NS started ordering locomotive engineers — under threat of termination for insubordination — to work conductor positions even though both the BLET Agreement and the SMART-TD Agreement prohibit the use of locomotive engineers in train service positions.

“Today, our unions have initiated legal actions that are intended to compel NS to follow our contracts and obey the laws of our land. NS cannot lawfully lay off roughly 4,000 conductors and brakemen, and then give their work to another craft. Nor can NS lawfully deprive locomotive engineers of the jobs, wages and working conditions to which they are contractually entitled by forcing them to perform the work of other crafts.”

###

The SMART Transportation Division is comprised of approximately 125,000 active and retired members of the former United Transportation Union, who work in a variety of crafts in the transportation industry.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen represents nearly 57,000 professional locomotive engineers and trainmen throughout the United States. The BLET is the founding member of the Rail Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters.