US COURT EXTENDS STAY AGAINST BN OPERATION

US COURT EXTENDS STAY AGAINST BN OPERATION

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has extended its stay preventing the Burlington Northern Railroad Co. from beginning operations on a non-union subsidiary using the parent company's tracks and trains.

The St. Louis-based court has ordered the BN and the United Transportation Union to present financial data to help it determine the amount of a bond the UTU will be required to post pending disposition of the appeal.Mel Winter, UTU general chairman for the workers on the affected BN region, filed the appeal of a decision by the Interstate Commerce Commission allowing BN to operate the Winona Bridge Railway.

A judge in St. Louis temporarily stayed the action on Friday; the BN had planned to begin service between Seattle and Spokane on Monday night.

Early Monday evening, the appellate judges extended the stay, pending a determination of the size and kind of bond the UTU will have to file as compensation to the BN for lost revenue in the event the union loses the appeal.

The UTU has indicated it will strike if the BN attempts to operate the Winona Bridge, although there is another court battle going on in Chicago centering around that issue.

The union is hoping that since the Winona Bridge has no history of making any profits for the BN, that the bond requirement will be minimal.

The carrier, on the other hand, is preparing documents to show the amount of losses it expects to incur if it is not allowed to begin the new service.

The court has ordered that the financial data be submitted by noon today.

The ICC several months ago gave the Burlington Northern permission to

allow the Winona Bridge use of more than 1,850 miles of BN tracks, but BN unions appealed the decision, asking the commission to reverse the decision.

William J. DeWitt, president of the Winona Bridge, said in a prepared statement late Monday that the subsidiary wanted to move cargo that day.

We are disappointed that the start-up has been delayed, he said. We have contacted our customers and have dealt with loads that were to move Monday.

Mr. DeWitt said that shippers have been assured that Winona Bridge will commence operations as soon as clearance has been obtained.

If agreement on the bond is reached, it could well be months before the Winona Bridge Railway ever runs a train.

The BN has been trying to force either the UTU or the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, the other major railroad operating union, to sign an agreement to represent workers on the Winona Bridge.

Tuesday afternoon, Roger Campbell, BN's director of labor relations and the press spokesman for the Winona Bridge, said the company is trying to find another union to agree to represent the workers.

Mr. Campbell said the company is using the time created by the stay to continue discussions with other unions, following the failure to reach an agreement with the UTU or the BLE during talks last week in St. Paul, Minn.

In addition to their appeal of the ICC decision, union lawyers have also filed allegations in U.S. District Court in Chicago alleging that the Winona Bridge arrangement is contrary to decisions made under the Railway Labor Act, which require consultation on matters that could affect employment.

The Chicago allegations were filed in response to the BN's request for an order prohibiting the UTU from striking as the result of Winona Bridge operations. Union leaders had threatened to strike the BN if Winona Bridge

trains went into service.

The unions contend - and the BN has agreed - that the railroad is using the Winona Bridge as a way to cut the crew sizes specified in the BN's existing union contracts. Union leaders fear that manning concessions on the Winona Bridge would provide the BN with a precedent it could use to press for other manpower cuts during railroad industry contract talks scheduled this summer.

A court hearing on the Chicago suit and countersuit was scheduled on Friday, but was delayed by a power failure. By the time it was scheduled to resume, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had already ruled.

The Chicago judge agreed to delay action on the case until the St. Louis court had issued its ruling on that matter.

The unions also argue that while the Burlington Northern says Winona would carry only new cargo, existing cargo might leave the BN briefly and return as new cargo for movement on the Winona Bridge.

The railroad, on the other hand, contends that low-cost expeditor trains would provide the railroad with new cargo on two specific runs, Seattle-to- Spokane and Seattle-to-St. Paul.

The BN has set no starting date for service between Spokane and St. Paul, where the workers are represented by Mr. Winter.

Because trucking within Washington state is heavily regulated, some shippers who want to use Winona Bridge said they estimate each 45-foot truck trailer moved on a flatcar could reduce costs as much as $200 below the price of moving the same trailer over the road. That savings would apply in each direction.

The Winona Bridge was due to begin service with an overnight train between Seattle and Spokane each night, with enough flatcars to haul 50 truck trailers at a time. One shipper said that the mere existence of an alternative form of transportation might drive truck rates down.

An even larger volume of cargo, however, was expected to move over the longer route to St. Paul. With the legal actions pending, the Winona Bridge could not predict when a Winona Bridge train will make its first run on either route.

Mr. Campbell said he believes Winona Bridge shippers knew there might be challenges to the new operation.

I think they understand the circumstances here, he said.