|ONLINE VERSION||VOLUME 106 - NUMBER 12 - DECEMBER 1997|
|BMWE Protests Norfolk Southern's Intimidation Tactics|
|BMWE members demonstrated at the Norfolk Southern
trainmaster's office in Cleveland, Ohio on October 15, 1997.
The demonstration was "an attempt to focus attention on Norfolk Southern's intimidation tactics and cruel treatment of its injured workers," said Paul Beard, BMWE General Chairman, and was held in conjunction with an NS discipline hearing on an injured worker on the same day in a Holiday Inn in Elyria, Ohio. The worker, Sam Esposito, was accused by NS of "furnishing and/or making false or conflicting statements" after he sustained serious injuries at work in April of this year.
Esposito, age 44 with 18 years of railroad service, shattered his leg and sustained a head injury after falling from a gondola car. He gave his first statement to the NS supervisor while he was laying on the tracks in severe pain waiting to be airlifted to the hospital. The second "conflicting" statement was given shortly after surgery on his multiple fractures while he was heavily sedated with morphine.
"This incident is just one of numerous cases of harassment and punishment that Norfolk Southern inflicts on any of its employees who dare to get hurt. Whatever the facts, NS' first step is always to blame the victim," said Beard. "We want to shine a spotlight on their treachery."
For the last eight years NS has taken the top Harriman Award, given to the railroad with the best safety record. The actions by NS in this case are typical of how they win the award. First, they try to intimidate employees into not reporting injuries. If the injury is serious enough where it cannot be hidden, an injured employee almost certainly faces discipline and possible dismissal, as in this case, and many are fired outright.
NS uses intimidation tactics to win safety awards instead of good practices such as training, adequate manpower and proper equipment. NS puts production and profits before safety. That is why rail labor refers to the Harriman Award as the Harassment Award, a name that accurately reflects Norfolk Southern policies and what it stands for.
As the Journal went to press, we received word that Sam Esposito was fired by NS.