RAIL INDUSTRY WEIGHS LABOR PROTECTION RULE

RAIL INDUSTRY WEIGHS LABOR PROTECTION RULE

Lawyers and industry analysts Monday were still trying to interpret the ramifications of the Interstate Commerce Commission's decision on labor- protection benefits for employees of the Springfield Terminal Railway.

The ICC Friday imposed what it termed extraordinary labor protection on Guilford Transportation Industries Inc., Springfield's owner, as punishment for its misuse of ICC decisions.Despite an initial statement from Guilford that officials were extremely pleased with the ruling, several other sources indicated the company's happiness may have been premature.

ICC Commissioner Paul Lamboley said the ruling has serious financial consequences for Guilford, and that it includes a make-whole remedy for the line's employees that is not restricted to a simple severance payment, but includes employment opportunities.

Mr. Lamboley had argued for a solution closer to that requested by the carrier's unions: the dissolution of the exemption from normal ICC procedures that allowed Guilford to transfer the Boston & Maine and Maine Central railroads to Springfield Terminal in order to abrogate its labor contracts.

At issue is the level of labor protection for the employees affected by Guilford's shifting of operations within its companies, and those that must be paid before it is allowed to transfer its other railroad, the Delaware & Hudson, to Springfield Terminal.

For its part, the Railway Labor Executives' Association, which brought the ICC action, seems ambivalent about the ruling.

It is encouraging that the commission finally has recognized that Guilford is making a mockery of federal statutes designed to protect workers' rights, said James Kennedy, the association's executive secretary.

But he restated labor's demand that the ICC revoke the exemption that allowed the intracompany leases to be ratified.

It is clear to us that the lease transactions were designed solely to

evade obligations to employees and therefore should be terminated, he said.

In concurring opinions Friday, Commissioner Lamboley said he would have revoked the exemptions, Commissioner J.J. Simmons III indicated he might have supported that move and Commissioner Malcolm M.B. Sterrett said he was tempted to vote for revocation.

However, in the commission's drive to reach a unanimous decision, it was decided to adopt a stance short of revocation, namely a 90-day timetable for a settlement, either voluntary or through binding arbitration, between Guilford and the unions.

Commissioner Sterrett Monday said he thought such a plan was a more forward-looking solution than revocation.