Engineers, Trainmen Strike Wheeling & Lake Erie
CLEVELAND -- More than 100 members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen this morning went on strike against the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway "to protest that railroad’s repudiation of the collective bargaining agreements that cover the two operating crafts," the union says.
Picket lines were posted at seven primary Wheeling & Lake Erie terminals in Ohio and Pennsylvania, shutting down the entire railroad’s operation, according to the union. The strike locations are: Akron, Brewster, Canton, Carey, Hartland, and Mingo Junction, Ohio and Carnegie, Pa.
“We were forced to take this action in defense of our contracts,” said spokesman Bob Linsey. “Specifically, the carrier has used management officials to perform the work of bargaining unit employees, namely locomotive engineers and conductors. In defiance of the union's warnings, the crrier has also recently ignored longstanding crew consist agreements and operated single-person operations in an effort to eliminate trainmen. To make matters worse, it’s done this after serving bargaining proposals to eliminate the restrictions, an outright admission that it presently has no right to operate this way.”
The Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway describes itself as the largest Ohio-based railroad and one of the largest regional lines in the country. The company was founded in 1871 "with the need for a rail connection between the Wheeling, W.Va., coal fields and Lake Erie port cities and facilities," states its website.
Its rail system, based in Brewster, is made up of a combination of the former W&LE, the Pittsburgh & West Virginia (and the Akron, Canton & Youngstown lines. The 576 miles of track, combined with trackage rights acquired from NS, encompassed 840 miles. W&LE now handles over 100,000 carloads per year and operates in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland. The company is private, 100% internally owned, and currently has 325 employees.
Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
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