Members Spying on Members on the Rails?
June 20, 2008
Source: TDU - Teamsters for a Democratic Union
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All Teamsters want to work safely, without injury. But company programs
that put the blame on union members—rather than unsafe working
conditions—won’t make our jobs safer.
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) members and
divisions are saying no to company spy programs that don’t improve our
On the Union Pacific, management and some union leaders are working on a
“Total Safety Culture” program.
The program sends out special Implementation-Teams (“I-Teams”), made up
of management and union reps, to observe union members on the job.
The I-Teams are not supposed to discipline workers, but the
opportunities for abuse are obvious.
The observations and the resulting data are supposed to remain totally
anonymous. But the UP has already started awarding prizes to the
employee who agrees to be observed the most times.
Members Say No to Spying
Other divisions are not going along.
In Selkirk, N.Y., CSX used information gathered by a joint union-company
safety committee to discipline members.
Members of Selkirk BLET Division 867 voted unanimously to leave the
company’s safety committee.
In Atlanta, Norfolk Southern asked BLET Division 316 to participate in
While the division agreed in principle to audit unsafe infrastructure,
it refused to monitor or observe union employees—a move that would have
divided the union.
Railroad Workers United, a rank-and-file organization on the railroad,
is organizing a nationwide campaign to educate members about the Blame
the Worker safety programs, and what they can do to respond.