UTU-represented conductors and engineers on Iowa Northern Railway have ratified their first agreement covering wages, benefits and working conditions.

Iowa Northern T&E employees chose the UTU as their collective bargaining agent in November 2008.

The agreement was negotiated with the assistance of UTU Alternate Vice President Doyle Turner.

“We will continue to look for railroad and other unorganized transportation workers who want and need union representation,” Turner said. “We are trying hard to bring parity in wages, work rules and benefits to the unorganized.

“Among gains workers obtain with UTU representation include job security, a defined grievance procedure and discipline rules, a work schedule that enhances their quality of life, and a defined set of benefits and work rules,” Turner said. “These are benefits workers cherish and they won’t obtain them without joining a union.”

Iowa Northern, headquartered in Cedar Rapids, operates more than 160 miles of former Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific track, running diagonally through the state between Manly and Cedar Rapids, with a branch line between Waterloo and Oelwein.

It connects directly with Union Pacific, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific. The railroad, which moves almost 14,000 carloads of grain annually between elevators and production facilities, calls itself “a proud link in the chain from farmer to market.”

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. — A Union Pacific machinist here was ordered rehired with back pay in a ruling by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) that found Union Pacific violated the worker’s rights under the Federal Rail Safety Act of 2007.

OSHA ruled that in firing the machinist, after he had reported a work-related injury, Union Pacific had improperly retaliated against him.

The railroad also was ordered to post a workplace notice admitting it was found to have retaliated against an employee for reporting a work-related injury.

In December 2010, OSHA ordered a UTU member employed by BNSF to be reinstated with back pay after finding BNSF guilty of improper retaliation after the worker filed an injury report with the Federal Railroad Administration.

The Federal Rail Safety Act of 2007 protects rail workers from retaliation and threats of retaliation when they report injuries, report that a carrier violated safety laws or regulations, or if the employee refuses to work under certain unsafe conditions or refuses to authorize the use of any safety related equipment.

Retaliation, including threats of retaliation, is defined as firing or laying off, blacklisting, demoting, denying overtime or promotion, disciplining, denying benefits, failing to rehire, intimidation, reassignment affecting promotion prospects, or reducing pay or hours.

An employer also is prohibited from disciplining an employee for requesting medical or first-aid treatment, or for following a physician’s orders, a physician’s treatment plan, or medical advice.

This protection is known as “whistle-blower protection,” and the federal law is enforced by OSHA, as it was against UP and BNSF.

Relief may include reinstatement with the same seniority and benefits, back pay with interest, compensatory damages (including witness and legal fees), and punitive damages as high as $250,000.

A rail employee may file the complaint directly with OSHA, or may contact a UTU designated legal counsel, general chairperson or state legislative director for assistance.

A listing of UTU designated legal counsel is available at www.utu.org, or may be obtained from local or general committee officers or state legislative directors.

To view a more detailed OSHA fact sheet, click on the following link:


UTU Local 367 represented employees of Nebraska Central Railroad, which includes all crafts, have ratified a wage, rules and working conditions agreement with an 80 percent plurality.

The five-year agreement provides for a signing bonus, wage increases, a minimum-hours guarantee and improved working conditions.

Assisting Local 367 in the negotiations were UTU International Vice President John Previsich, Union Pacific General Chairperson Rich Draskovich and Union Pacific Vice General Chairperson Brent Leonard (both, GO 953).

The three praised the efforts of Local 367 Chairperson Brandon Glendy in determining member concerns prior to negotiations, and then assisting with negotiations and explaining to members the tentative agreement prior to its overwhelming ratification.

Nebraska Central Railroad operates entirely in Nebraska over 340 miles of former BNSF and Union Pacific track.

The local lost one of its members in June 2010 when 38-year-old conductor Jeffrey Scholl died in the collapse of a railroad bridge into the flood-swollen Elkhorn River. Two other members of Local 367 were injured in the bridge collapse.

How did major railroads perform in 2010?

Reviewing their calendar-year and fourth-quarter profit statements, one wouldn’t know they were operating in the midst of a nationwide recession.

Profits soared, stock dividends were raised and operating ratios improved. (Operating ratio — a railroad’s operating expenses expressed as a percentage of operating revenue — is considered by economists to be the basic measure of carrier profitability.)

Wall Street analyst Ed Wolfe reports the level of freight car and intermodal loadings for the year registered “the best” year-over-year growth in more than 50 years.

Wolfe and other analysts also point to the railroads’ pricing strength — the ability to raise rates on shippers with limited effective alternatives to railroad transportation. Many long-term contracts for hauling coal are expiring, and substantial rate increases on that traffic already are reflected in new contracts.

Indeed, railroad CEOs are predicting another strongly profitable year in 2011, which was reflected in year-end railroad stock prices, which were flirting with record highs.

Following are profit reports from the major railroads:

 Canadian National:

  • Fourth-quarter profit increased 19 percent.
  • Calendar-year 2010 profit increased 13.5 percent.
  • Operating ratio improved four percentage points to 63.6.
  • The stock dividend was raised 20 percent.
  • The year-end stock price was up 38 percent. Analysts predict CN’s stock price will rise another 4 percent in 2011.

 Canadian Pacific:

  • Fourth-quarter profit increased 34 percent.
  • Calendar-year 2010 profit increased 39 percent.
  • Operating ratio improved four percentage points to 77.6.
  • The stock dividend was raised 9 percent.
  • The year-end stock price was up 45 percent. Analysts predict CP’s stock price will rise another 8 percent in 2011.


  • Fourth-quarter profit increased 46 percent.
  • Calendar-year 2010 profit increased 35 percent.
  • Operating ratio improved four percentage points to 71.1.
  • The stock dividend was raised 26 percent.
  • The year-end stock price was up 62 percent. Analysts predict CSX’s stock price will rise another 6 percent in 2011.

 Kansas City Southern:

  • Fourth-quarter profit increased 47 percent.
  • Calendar-year 2010 profit increased 82 percent.
  • Operating ratio improved 8.8 percentage points to 73.2.
  • The year-end stock price was up 74 percent. Analysts predict KCS’s stock price will rise another 7 percent in 2011.

 Norfolk Southern:

  • Fourth-quarter profit increased 31 percent.
  • Calendar-year 2010 profit increased 45 percent.
  • Operating ratio improved 5 percentage points to 71.9.
  • The stock dividend was raised 11 percent.
  • The year-end stock price was up 41 percent. Analysts predict NS’s stock price will rise another 8 percent in 2011.

 Union Pacific:

  • Fourth-quarter profit increased 31 percent.
  • Calendar-year 2010 profit increased 47 percent. UP Chairman Jim Young said 2010 was the “most profitable year in Union Pacific’s nearly 150-year history.”
  • Operating ratio improved 5.5 percentage points to 70.6.
  • The stock dividend was raised 40 percent.
  • The year-end stock price was up 60 percent. Analysts predict UP’s stock price will rise another 8 percent in 2011.


As BNSF is now privately held, it no longer reports detailed financial data.

On the same day (Jan. 20) Union Pacific reported record fourth quarter and record calendar year 2010 profits, UP Chairman Jim Young said he is headed to Washington to meet with President Obama’s economic advisers to oppose a congressional mandate that railroads implement crash-avoidance positive train control by year-end 2015.

UP told investors its 2010 fourth quarter earnings had soared by 31 percent from the same quarter in 2009, and that its calendar year 2010 profit rose by 47 percent to a record $2.8 billion.

Twice during 2010, Union Pacific raised its common stock dividend, raising the dividend by 40 percent in 2010. Since 2001, the Union Pacific common stock dividend rate has been raised by 280 percent, for an average of 28 percent annually.

Young called 2010 the “most profitable year in Union Pacific’s nearly 150-year history.

“Economic indicators point to growth [in 2011], and if jobs improve, there will be even greater strength,” said Young, according to progressiverailroading.com. “The bar is raised, and last year the floor was set. We’re setting our sights even higher.”

UP repeated a previous announcement that it will increase its workforce by more than 4,000 in 2011 — an increase of almost 10 percent in its workforce — while bringing back the remainder of furloughed workers.

As for the Washington trip, in which Young said he will be joined by executives from other railroads, the Journal of Commerce reported that Young “strongly complained about the heavy expense of developing and deploying positive train control technology, which means outfitting locomotives with automated braking gear and tying it into trackside warning devices and other remote control systems.”

The railroads’ opposition to PTC — that its costs outweigh benefits — is disputed by independent studies, some commissioned by the Federal Railroad Administration.

The National Transportation Safety Board has long advocated implementation of PTC as a necessary safety overlay. The UTU and other rail labor organizations similarly support implementation of PTC.

Union Pacific will increase its capital spending by 25 percent to $3.25 billion in 2011, reports the Journal of Commerce.

UP capital exenditures in 2010 totaled $2.6 billion.

UP said it will be purchasing as many as 200 new locomotives in 2011, upgrade numerous corridors to accommodate double-stack container cars, and replace a 100-year-old bridge across the Mississippi River at Clinton, Iowa, the Journal of Commerce reported.

Union Pacific has announced the following assignments to superintendent-transportation services positions, effective Nov. 15:
Lance Hardisty will become superintendent-transportation services, El Paso, Texas, moving from a similar position in St. Paul, Minn.
Rod Doerr will become superintendent-transportation services, St. Paul, Minn. He has held management posts in mechanical maintenance, terminal operations and transportation services.
Mike Brazytis will become superintendent-transportation services, San Antonio, Texas. He is moving from the post of superintendent of the Harriman Dispatching Center in Omaha.

Union Pacific, frequently identified – rightly or wrongly – as a foe of joint freight/passenger rail operations, may be the first major railroad to sign such an implementing agreement, reports the Journal of Commerce.

The Journal of Commerce quoted UP CEO Jim Young as saying he is “confident” that UP and the State of Illinois will agree on terms to operate a 110-mph Amtrak train over UP tracks between Chicago and St. Louis.

The cost of improving the right-of-way to handle higher speed trains, plus the cost of the equipment and stations, is estimated at some $4 billion, and Union Pacific and the State of Illinois are expecting a federal stimulus grant totaling some 25 percent of the projected cost.

Railroad intermodal traffic –- especially the movement of containers atop flat cars — is sizzling.

Responding to the growing demand, Union Pacific has ordered almost 10,000 new 53-foot containers this year, according to the Journal of Commerce. Additionally, reports the Journal of Commerce, UP has ordered 5,600 new wheeled chassis on which the containers travel to and from the railhead.

UP Chairman Jim Young told the Journal of Commerce he expects UP will set a record for container loads before year-end.

Union Pacific earnings for the third quarter 2010 soared by 51 percent from the third quarter 2009, the railroad told investors Oct. 21.

UP told Wall Street analysts it was the company’s most profitable quarter ever.

In reporting the record earnings, UP Chairman Jim Young told Wall Street analysts that the railroad had put some 1,100 furloughed employees back to work during the third quarter 2010, and that all furloughed workers likely would be back on the job in coming months.Young also told analysts that UP likely will hire additional employees in 2011, assuming the economy remains strong.

UP credited increased rail traffic (up 14 percent for the third quarter versus third quarter 2009), the ability to extract higher freight rates from shippers, and improved productivity as the reasons for the record profits.

Per share earnings for UP jumped from 1.01 in the third quarter 2009 to 1.56 per share in the third quarter 2010. This exceeded estimates of Wall Street firms.

UP reported a record operating ratio of 68.2 percent. Operating ratio is the railroad’s operating expenses expressed as a percentage of operating revenue, and is considered by economists as a basic measure of carrier profitability.

CSX earlier reported that its third quarter earnings soared by 43 percent.

Kansas City Southern reports third quarter earnings Oct. 26, and Norfolk Southern reports Oct. 27. As BNSF is now privately held, it does not report earnings separately.