U.S. District Court Judge John R. Adams has issued a temporary restraining order in Akron, Ohio, ending a strike by workers with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen union against the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway.
According to court documents filed by the regional railroad, which normally operates an average of 45 to 50 trains per day, the walkout stopped virtually all train activity. Picket lines were posted at seven WLE terminals in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The BLET union said workers were striking because the railroad had rejected collective bargaining agreements that cover the two professions by using supervisors to perform the work of engineers and the trainmen, ignoring longstanding crew consist agreements and operating single-person operations in an effort to eliminate trainmen.
Following an emergency hearing, Judge Adams ordered the strikers to return to work, and to refrain from any form of economic self-help or job action against the railroad, including delaying anyone from performing his or her work for the railroad. The judge said the work stoppage was unlawful under the Railway Labor Act. However, the judge conditioned the temporary restrainign order “on WLE’s agreement not to use supervisors or other management employees in place of engineers or conductors in the operation of its trains.”
The TRO will remain in effect until a hearing can be held on the railroad’s request for a longer-term injunction.
“I hope that the condition imposed by the judge will lead WLE to recognize the importance of this issue to our members, who now will be returning to work with the assurance that while the matter is under consideration by the court, no further provocative actions may be taken by the carrier,” said Dennis R. Pierce, BLET national president, in a written statement.
The WLE did not return a phone call seeking comment on Monday morning.