united transportation union
GENERAL COMMITTEE of ADJUSTMENT GO-386
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad and Montana Western Railroad
|July 10, 2000|
Re: Rose Letter of July 6, 2000
Dear Mr. Rose:
Although I was not copied with the above referenced letter, I have been passed a copy by other sources.
I am one of those United Transportation Union General Chairmen to which you refer, that did not "accepted their responsibility to work with us" and who did not have "the commitment and statesmanship to participate."
The "new Attendance Guidelines" are one and the same with the previous "Availability Policy." The computer programming utilized to generate the reports for the "Availability Policy" are still functioning to generate the reports for the "Attendance Guidelines."
Contrary to your contentions, fatigue and the "Attendance Guidelines" are directly connected. Under the present Attendance Guidelines, hundreds of non compliance letters are issued each month to train, yard and engine (TY&E) service employees. The result of such letters is to instill concern and a threat of censure or discipline on those employees and encourage or incite those employees to work more even if fatigued or lacking proper rest.
Employees working an average of sixty (60) hours or more a week have been cited for investigation, investigated and issued various levels of discipline. Granted, as you state, the new discipline (PEPA) policy does not require or generate actual suspensions in the first levels of discipline, however, the threat and potential for discipline remains. Such threat and potential for discipline need not involve the same or similar alleged infractions.
The undersigned and this Committee, has been involved in SACP and various work/rest/fatigue countermeasure groups. The undersigned and this Committee stands ready to meet and negotiate on issues involved as shown by the attached letter. However, neither the undersigned, nor this Committee, will negotiate on a policy that can be changed unilaterally by the Carrier without notice.
The underlying problems on BNSF involve proper and reasonable regulation of extra boards, cross utilizing employees from one craft's extra board for another crafts board (ie: calling engineers from conductor, brakeman or yard board), and reasonable line-ups that project future vacancies.
Insofar as work/rest/fatigue initiatives, BNSF has resorted to offering certain agreements and conditions written by BNSF without any modification possible. If the Organization does not agree with those agreements or conditions, we do without.
The penultimate paragraph of your letter states the BNSF is willing and ready to step up talks with concerned union leaders. As shown in my letter of June 28, 2000, the undersigned is likewise standing ready to meet and negotiate agreements, but not policy, to address work/rest and fatigue.
The undersigned has long attempted to deal with the involved issues dating back to 1978-1979. The issues are not unknown to us, merely unaddressed.
With best wishes, I am,
cc: Jolene Molitoris
B.A. Boyd, Jr.
BNSF General Chairmen
GO-386 Local Chairmen
|MATTHEW K. ROSE
Chief Operating Officer
|Burlington Northern Santa Fe
2600 Lou Menk Drive
Fort Worth, TX 76131
|July 6, 2000|
The Honorable Jolene Molitoris Administrator
Federal Railroad Administration
400 Seventh Street, SW
Washington, DC 20590
I received copies of Letters dated July 5 and June 26, 2000 from United Transportation Union Nebraska State Legislative Director Ray Lineweber, respectively, to you and George Gavalla and would like to offer some reflections on Mr. Lineweber's comments about BNSF's "Attendance Guidelines."
Putting it simply, Mr. Lineweber has asked FRA to take the extraordinary step of ordering BNSP to cancel the "Attendance Guidelines" based on his wholly unsupported, and conclusory claim of some connection between the Guidelines and employee fatigue at our railroad. Unfortunately Mr. Lineweber's letters, in our view, appear only to add to recent misinformation concerning BNSF's legitimate attempts to address its very real operational problem of unreliable employee attendance, especially on weekends. As an example of the problem, train, yard and engine (TY&E) employee availability on some parts of our railroad dropped to about 50 percent over the July 4 holiday weekend. Addressing TY&E employee availability issues Is critical to oar continued ability to deliver ever better customer service and grow our business.
I am attaching for your convenience, a "white paper" which describes BNSF's efforts to ensure that sufficient TY&E employees are available every day to move our nation's commerce without delay and to enable BNSF to continue to provide its customers with the service they deserve. This white paper describes in some detail the lengthy efforts BNSF has made to work out attendance issues with union representatives of our train and engine service employees. Rather than repeat all of its contents here, let me focus on the safety issue Mr. Lineweber raises.
We agree that fatigue is a serious matter. BNSF has been the railroad industry's pioneer in developing fatigue counter measures and in studying fatigue issues in general. We are pleased to say that since 1996, the leaders and members of the unions representing oar crews, the United Transportation Union ("UTU") and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers ("BLE") have been active in our fatigue countermeasures program. Our cooperation has resulted in such railroad industry innovations as an extensive fatigue education program, a system-wide napping policy, and a variety of assigned days off agreements, all of which enable our train, yard and engine employees to get the rest they need. In line with our continuing effort to develop additional insight into fatigue issues, we recently invited Mr. Lineweber on three different occasions to discuss his specific concerns about employee fatigue. He has declined to do so unless we abandon any effective means of addressing the availability issue. Furthermore, recent communications from the UTU, including Mr. Lineweber's letters to you and Mr. Gavalla seriously confuse BNSF's legitimate effort to ensure that we have enough employees available to meet our customers' expectations and the demands of interstate commerce in general, with genuine fatigue issues. I'd like to dispel some of that confusion.
Perhaps most importantly, our Attendance Guidelines are the product of extensive negotiations last December and January in which all BLE general chairmen at BNSF and most of our UTU general chairmen and two UTU vice presidents participated. It is certainly fair to say that none of these union leaders endorsed or signed off on the resulting Guidelines, but it is equally clear that all who had the commitment and statesmanship to participate in these negotiations felt the outcome was a big improvement over the preceding "Availability Policy", and a generally reasonable approach to a problem with attendance which no one in labor has seriously denied.
The current Guidelines have been In effect for four months now, and less than two percent of our train, yard and engine service employees have undergone "formal investigations" based on the Guidelines. Under BNSF's new discipline policy, effective July 1. 2000, none of these people will be denied any earnings opportunity in the absence of multiple failures to comply with the Guidelines or other discipline problems. The Guidelines do not change our crew calling policies, except by adding an important new benefit for employees the opportunity to lock in permission to lay off well in advance. It's also important to point Out that the Attendance Guidelines are entirely compatible with our existing fatigue countermeasures. In fact, we continue to work with most of our BLE and UTU general chairmen to implement new fatigue countermeasures. None of the several union leaders who accepted their responsibility to work with us on these issues has insisted that the Guidelines be cancelled as a precondition to further efforts to address fatigue. In short, I believe Mr. Lineweber is attempting to fashion a linkage between BNSF's Attendance Guidelines and employee fatigue that does not exist.
We stand willing and ready immediately to step up talks with all concerned union leaders at BNSF regarding genuine fatigue matters. As you and many others have recognized, that's the best way by far for all of us to solve these pressing workplace issues.
I would be more than happy to discuss this whole subject with you further, at your convenience.
cc: Rob Krebs