News & Reviews News Wire Unions begin legal action against Norfolk Southern

Unions begin legal action against Norfolk Southern

By David Lassen | October 1, 2021

SMART-TD, BLET say engineers are being forced to work as conductors, which is prohibited by labor agreements

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CLEVELAND — Two major rail unions have begun legal action against Norfolk Southern, saying the railroad has been forcing locomotive engineers to work conductor positions, which is prohibited by their labor agreements with the railroad.

The Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Art, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART-TD) and Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen announced the move on Thursday, saying NS “cannot lawfully lay off roughly 4,000 conductors and brakemen, and then give their work to another craft.

Logo of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen union“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,” SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson and BLET National President Dennis Pierce said in a joint statement.

The unions’ statement says NS has eliminated more than 35% of its operating crew positions since December 2018, after its implementation of Precision Scheduled Railroading, and that the railroad is seeking to eliminate the conductor and brakeman positions. As a result of shortages in those positions, the statement says, engineers have been threatened with termination for insubordinating if they refuse to work as conductors.

10 thoughts on “Unions begin legal action against Norfolk Southern

  1. Doesn’t NS have furloughed conductors they can call back? Or are they like CSX whose conductors have moved on and won’t come back.

    Just saw a TV ad for getting a CDL at a Community College and driving truck. Lots of jobs out there. PA is also looking for School Bus Drivers and SEPTA is hiring Bus Drivers.

    Why be treated like dirt?

    1. I don’t have the exact number in front of me but, NS had a fair number of conductors who refused recall last year, presumably because they found something better while furloughed. Additionally, NS’ (along with other C1’s, for that matter) public comments about wanting to eliminate conductors on trains certainly does nothing to encourage new people to hire out or furloughed conductors to return if they’ve taken other jobs.

  2. Isn’t this the same railroad that used to make their engineers take a dump in a bucket?
    Isn’t this the same railroad that refused to install cabin A/C for their engineers?
    Isn’t this the same railroad that refused/resisted the conversion of road diesels to AC traction?

  3. I grew up in Altoona during the 40s and 50s. I witnessed the decline of the PRR. Numerous factors were root causes of the decline. One of them was the intransigency of the labor unions. They refused to recognize that the business needed to change to meet the burgeoning competition of trucks and airplanes. The end was not pretty for management, labor, or Altoona.

    1. Paul; so you’re saying it’s ok for NS to simply ignore an existing labor contract they agreed to?

  4. Gee, I wonder why that place seems to treat their employees like crap? Who would even consider working there?

  5. Any industry, any corporation, that has such a deep and rapid reduction in payroll had best think long and hard about what they’re doing.

    Before it’s too late.

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