More than 100 members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen today struck the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway.
Picket lines were posted at seven primary WLE terminals, including Akron, Brewster, Canton, Carey, Hartland and Mingo Junction, Ohio, and Carnegie, Pa., shutting down the entire railroad’s operation.
“We were forced to take this action in defense of our contracts,” said Bob Linsey, general chairman, in a written statement.
Linsey said that the railroad has used management officials to perform the work of locomotive engineers and conductors and recently “ignored longstanding crew consist agreements and operated single-person operations in an effort to eliminate trainmen.” He added, “To make matters worse, it’s done this after serving bargaining proposals to eliminate the restrictions, an outright admission that it presently has no right to operate this way.”
Dennis R. Pierce, national president of BLET, claimed: “It is clear that WLE’s actions are in outright defiance of its obligations, a major dispute in and of itself. BLET will not idly stand by and allow this totally unsafe abrogation of its collectively bargained agreements.”
The W&LE didn’t return a phone call seeking comment on late Friday.
Linsey also reaffirmed his support of H.R. 3040, the Safe Freight Act, which requires at least two crew members on all freight trains in the U.S. The bill was created after the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway train derailment on July 6 in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.