Announcement of the Establishment of Emergency Board No. 209 To Investigate a Railroad Labor Dispute

May 16, 1986

The President announced today that he has established, effective May 16, 1986, Presidential Emergency Board No. 209 to investigate and make recommendations for settlement of current disputes between the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees (BMWE) and the Maine Central Railroad/Portland Terminal Company.

The Maine Central Railroad/Portland Terminal are owned by Guilford Transportation Industries, which also owns the Boston & Maine and Delaware & Hudson railroads. Most of the traffic handled by the Guilford railroads, which are concentrated within the northeast section of the United States, originates on other rail carriers and is transferred to the Guilford lines at key interchange points. The Guilford roads interline traffic with several other major railroads, including Conrail, CSX, and Norfolk Southern.

A strike called by the BMWE against the Maine Central/Portland Terminal subsequently spread to the other Guilford railroads. A further escalation of the dispute occurred in April when the BMWE initiated a class action suit against the Association of American Railroads contending that certain railroads had provided Guilford assistance under a mutual aid arrangement. Picketing was initiated by the BMWE on April 10, 1986, against selected railroads outside the Guilford system.

However, as a result of considerable litigation following this escalation in the job action, several Federal courts issued orders restraining the BMWE and other unions from picketing. Important issues under the Federal labor laws have been presented in these cases, the speedy and final resolution of which is of great importance to labor-management relations in this industry and to the efficient movement of rail traffic in interstate commerce. The recent conflicting decisions of the Federal courts, permitting in some cases picketing of carriers not involved in the basic dispute, however, made Presidential emergency action necessary in the interim.

Three Federal court jurisdictions have permitted picketing by the BMWE of railroads outside the Guilford system. The Central Vermont Railway was denied a preliminary injunction by the United States District Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad was denied a preliminary injunction on appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; and most importantly, Conrail was denied injunctive relief on May 15, 1986, when the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dissolved an injunction granted on suit by Conrail.

Conrail operates 13,400 miles of lines in 15 Northeast States as well as the District of Columbia and Canada. In 1985 Conrail was involved in transporting 15 percent of all traffic loaded by the Nation's railroads. In the Northeast alone, Conrail accounts for over 30 percent of all freight loaded by rail. It also provides connecting service with almost all major railroads operating in the South and West. More than half of Conrail's traffic is carried in connection with other railroads, as part of joint-line movements. Over 1 million carloads each year move onto Conrail lines from another railroad, and close to half a million carloads are forwarded by Conrail to another railroad. The effects of a strike against Conrail would therefore extend to most other large carriers throughout the country, even if they were not directly involved in the strike itself.

Three Federal court jurisdictions have permitted picketing by the BMWE of railroads outside the Guilford system. The Central Vermont Railway was denied a preliminary injunction by the United States District Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad was denied a preliminary injunction on appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; and most importantly, Conrail was denied injunctive relief on May 15, 1986, when the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dissolved an injunction granted on suit by Conrail.

Conrail operates 13,400 miles of lines in 15 Northeast States as well as the District of Columbia and Canada. In 1985 Conrail was involved in transporting 15 percent of all traffic loaded by the Nation's railroads. In the Northeast alone, Conrail accounts for over 30 percent of all freight loaded by rail. It also provides connecting service with almost all major railroads operating in the South and West. More than half of Conrail's traffic is carried in connection with other railroads, as part of joint-line movements. Over 1 million carloads each year move onto Conrail lines from another railroad, and close to half a million carloads are forwarded by Conrail to another railroad. The effects of a strike against Conrail would therefore extend to most other large carriers throughout the country, even if they were not directly involved in the strike itself.

Picketing by BMWE employees of the Conrail system, including such key points as Chicago, IL, St. Louis, MO, Cleveland, OH, Buffalo, NY, and Elkhart, IN, began on May 15, 1986. This action, if continued, could result in layoffs of 80,000 workers in key rail-served industries within the first 2 weeks and a total of 135,000 workers if the strike continued for a full month, in addition to the 35,000 nonmanagement employees of Conrail. Beyond the loss of revenues to the railroad, the strike would halt production of approximately $85 million worth of goods per day and could mean layoffs of 65,000 in motor vehicles manufacturing, 30,000 in steelmaking and other primary metals production, and 10,000 each in coal mining, chemicals production, and the pulp and paper industries. A strike against Conrail would also halt Amtrak passenger trains carrying 45,000 travelers each week, approximately \1/8\ of total Amtrak intercity passengers.

Consequently, the President invoked the emergency board procedures of the Railway Labor Act, which in part provide that the board will report its findings and recommendations for settlement to the President within 30 days from the date of its creation. The parties must then consider the recommendations of the emergency board and endeavor to resolve their differences without engaging in self-help during a subsequent 30-day period. It is not anticipated that the creation of the emergency board will inhibit the prompt and final resolution of the important issues of Federal labor law pending in connection with this dispute.

Picketing by BMWE employees of the Conrail system, including such key points as Chicago, IL, St. Louis, MO, Cleveland, OH, Buffalo, NY, and Elkhart, IN, began on May 15, 1986. This action, if continued, could result in layoffs of 80,000 workers in key rail-served industries within the first 2 weeks and a total of 135,000 workers if the strike continued for a full month, in addition to the 35,000 nonmanagement employees of Conrail. Beyond the loss of revenues to the railroad, the strike would halt production of approximately $85 million worth of goods per day and could mean layoffs of 65,000 in motor vehicles manufacturing, 30,000 in steelmaking and other primary metals production, and 10,000 each in coal mining, chemicals production, and the pulp and paper industries. A strike against Conrail would also halt Amtrak passenger trains carrying 45,000 travelers each week, approximately \1/8\ of total Amtrak intercity passengers.

Consequently, the President invoked the emergency board procedures of the Railway Labor Act, which in part provide that the board will report its findings and recommendations for settlement to the President within 30 days from the date of its creation. The parties must then consider the recommendations of the emergency board and endeavor to resolve their differences without engaging in self-help during a subsequent 30-day period. It is not anticipated that the creation of the emergency board will inhibit the prompt and final resolution of the important issues of Federal labor law pending in connection with this dispute.