UTU guilty of raiding BLE on CP Railway

Read Entire Decision

CLEVELAND, November 21 -- An Impartial Umpire with the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) ruled that the United Transportation Union was guilty of raiding BLE members in July when it encouraged BLE members to sign UTU membership cards at the Canadian Pacific Railway.

“I have no doubt that the actions of the UTU were intended to constitute, and in fact did constitute, a raid upon the membership of the BLE,” wrote The Honourable Alan B. Gold in his November 19 decision.

The BLE brought a raiding complaint before the CLC on July 8 following a surprise attack by UTU representatives on the CPR property. Over the July 4 weekend, when the BLE’s U.S. headquarters was closed for the Independence Day holiday, several UTU representatives canvassed the CPR property and requested that BLE members sign UTU membership cards.

The membership cards, however, were purposely vague in their wording and many BLE members felt they were tricked into signing them. Later, most signed revocation cards.

“We are pleased with the Impartial Umpire’s decision,” said BLE International President Don M. Hahs. “From the very beginning, we correctly called this UTU attack on our membership a raid, and now the Canadian Labour Congress has agreed with us.”

The Impartial Umpire agreed with BLE that the UTU’s actions violated Article IV, Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the CLC Constitution. Article IV prohibits affiliates from organizing or attempting to represent employees who already have an established collective bargaining relationship with another affiliate.

He further agreed with BLE that the UTU intentionally tried to harm the BLE’s reputation in addition to trying to raid its membership.

“The evidence before me shows that the UTU acted in such a manner as to bring the BLE into disrepute and to adversely affect its reputation,” the Umpire concluded.

The UTU’s actions came at a time when the two unions were jointly bargaining for a new contract with CPR under the auspices of the Canadian Council of Railway Operating Unions (CCROU). The attack also came at a time when the BLE was considering a merger with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and many in the BLE viewed the UTU attack as an attempt to derail the merger discussions. Ballots regarding a merger of the BLE and IBT were mailed in October and election results will be announced in early December.

However, the UTU was able to use the signed membership cards to obtain a certification hearing before the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB), seeking to become the single bargaining agent on behalf of both BLE and UTU members.

The Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) conducted a hearing on October 15, 2003, regarding UTU’s request for certification at CPR. A formal decision has not been released pending the outcome of a number of outstanding issues.

As part of the hearing, a conductor testified that the membership wanted the UTU to drop the foolishness of the raid on the BLE and get the CCROU back to the bargaining table. The UTU also conceded that its own membership cards were quite stale and out of date.

As part of his CLC decision, the Impartial Umpire noted the history of UTU attacks on the BLE in the United States. In particular, he cited the AFL-CIO resolution of February 26, 2002, which condemned the UTU’s constant raiding of BLE membership on US railroads.

The February 26 AFL-CIO resolution stemmed from several failed raiding attempts by UTU against the BLE, most notably on the Union Pacific Railroad and the Kansas City Southern. In both cases, impartial AFL-CIO umpires ruled that the UTU was guilty of raiding BLE in violation of Article XX of the AFL-CIO constitution.

Following the November 19 CLC ruling, the UTU is now guilty of violating “no raiding” clauses in both the CLC constitution in Canada and the AFL-CIO constitution in the United States. Read Entire Decision

Friday, November 21, 2003