|ONLINE VERSION||VOLUME 106 - NUMBER 12 - DECEMBER 1997|
|BMWE Members Win STB Decision|
|BMWE members who formerly worked for the Atlanta & St.
Andrews Bay Railroad Company (ASAB) won a favorable decision on August 25, 1997 from the
Surface Transportation Board (STB) in their case resulting from their firing almost four
As reported in the July 1997 issue of the Journal, "You're Trespassing!" were the words that greeted ASAB maintenance of way employees shortly after they returned to work following the New Year holiday in 1994. They were ordered to turn in any equipment and get off the property immediately.
When the Bay Line Railroad, a newly formed non-carrier, took over the ASAB in early 1994, it notified the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) that it was using the "class acquisition exemption" to purchase the ASAB.
The ICC had created this exemption to cover "non-carrier" acquisitions of rail lines. In a later ruling, the ICC held that parties to such exempt transactions are not required to provide protective conditions for their employees.
Since 1994 the BMWE has endeavored to obtain justice for these fired ASAB employees. They first won when, in March 1995, the ICC denied the BMWE's petition for revocation of the exemption but did find "exceptional circumstances" existed to warrant the imposition of protective conditions for ASAB employees.
Thereafter, when ASAB denied the workers claims for protective benefits, the parties went to arbitration. In October 1996, Arbitrator Fred Blackwell rendered the second favorable decision in which he stated, "Yes, the claimants are entitled to the lump sum separation allowance provided in ... the ICC Decision served on March 31, 1995."
The ASAB filed an appeal (or petition for review) of the arbitrator's decision in November 1996 with the STB. Almost another year later, the BMWE won for the third time. On August 25, 1997, the STB denied "ASAB's request that its appeal of the arbitral decision be heard."
Unfortunately, the situation the former ASAB employees find themselves in is an excellent example of the railroads' power with an anti-union government seated in Congress. Despite four long years of struggle and three hard-won legal successes, as this Journal goes to press, the ASAB employees have still not been paid.