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CHARLES I. HOPKINS CHAIRMAN OF THE NATIONAL RAILWAY LABOR CONFERENCE ISSUES STATEMENT ON THE BMWE'S INFORMATIONAL PICKETING

 WASHINGTON, July 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Charles Hopkins, labor negotiator for the nation's freight railroads, released the following statement today:
 We understand The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees (BMWE) has unleashed "informational picketing" at "various sites" throughout the United States today, at the very time them Mississippi flood has placed the rail system at risk. A BMWE press release threatens a full- fledged strike unless the union is able to dictate terms and conditions of work-despite the provisions of the applicable national collective bargaining agreement and decisions by arbitrators applying those provisions.
 This is not a campaign for justice; it is a campaign for injustice -- not because we say so but because the terms and conditions of employment are covered by the agreement and decisions by neutral arbitrators. The union would ride roughshod over all of this, and by illegal means -- because a strike over contract terms is not legal during the term of an agreement and this one extends until at least 1995. All strikes over the interpretation or application of collective bargaining agreements are unlawful under the Railway Labor Act.
 The union press release is right in one respect. The points about which it now complains go back to the last national negotiating round. Those issues came before Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) 219, just as the union says, and after months of hearings and deliberations at which the BMWE was afforded a full audience, the PEB made recommendations that the three members -- all eminent members of the arbitration community -- deemed reasonable and fair to all parties.
 This was not enough for the BMWE. It rejected the recommendations and after a national strike Congress imposed them. But Congress also established a Special Board of three eminent arbitrators to consider claims of injustice and with power to overturn the PEB 219 recommendations. None were overturned.
 In addition to all this, the Agreement provides for a contract interpretation committee chaired by a neutral person. The union and the railroads selected an arbitrator who had been a member of PEB 219 and did so by agreement. Issues of contract interpretation -- including some of the very ones specified in the press release -- have come before the arbitrator and have been decided. The interpretation committee with the neutral continues in existence to resolve any other issues. There's more. The agreement provides for arbitration on the individual railroads of "production gang" issues (central to the union's claims of oppression) and there have been arbitration decisions on those issues on the very three railroads that are named specifically in the press release.
 The BMWE has received more attention on the part of the railroads, non-partisan Presidential Emergency Boards, Special Boards and respected arbitrators than all of the other labor unions combined.
 It is not pursuing "justice," it is defying the Presidential Board's findings, its agreement, arbitrators decisions and the law. It is not driven by the merits of any issue -- the agenda is driven by its internal and external politics.
 -0- 7/19/93
 /CONTACT: The Association of American Railroads, Department of Communications, 202-639-2552, or fax 202-639-2558/


CO: Association of American Railroads ST: District of Columbia IN: TRN SU:

LD -- NY097 -- 3324 07/19/93 20:23 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jul 19, 1993
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