Flowback Pilot Proposal for portions of the Illinois Division

Brothers and Sisters,

After years of work from this office to expand seniority options for our membership, the UTU, BLE, and the Carrier have come to terms on a pilot project for Flowback. The pilot project will be on the portions of the Illinois Division not part of the Lake Hub. Essentially, this means everything west of Tilton, IL, including the terminals of Decatur, St. Louis, Moberly, and Kansas City. The reason this area has been chosen for the pilot is because of a more limited seniority zone which will be easier to monitor and implement this pilot for both the organizations and the Carrier.

Attached, you will find a copy of the proposal and side letters. As I stated, this pilot project will be only on portions of the Illinois Division but I wanted to share with everyone. The applicable Local Chairmen on the Illinois Division will receive a ballot in which to vote in favor of or against the proposed pilot project. However, the majority of Chairmen vote will determine whether the pilot project will be implemented or not.

A couple of items contained in the proposal deserve an explanation. There will only be two option dates on which to flow, one in October and one in April. As this agreement would not be in place, should it be ratified, in time to use the first option date in October, we are exploring a one-time initial flow in November or December depending on the capability of Crew Call. Engineers electing to flowback will be on a one for one basis. Therefore, for every employee that flows back, one employee will "flow up" to engineer status. The argument that this will result in furloughs is completely inaccurate due to this provision. Also, an engineer that flows back will be placed on the conductors extraboard at the location and must remain at that location for 60 days. This was done to prevent a never-ending bumping cycle and to prevent a shift in manpower. Once back in conductor status, the employee that flowed back is eligible to bid on any position or to exercise seniority moves (he/she is not stuck on the extra board for 60 days). Another nuance of this proposal is that any licensed engineer may now bid on engineer vacancies (both permanent and temporary). Before, an employee had to be working in engine service so I see this as an improvement for our members that would like to exercise their engineer seniority even though they might be working in ground service. Also included is an agreement to meet and continue to negotiate an agreement to extend flow back throughout this Committee's entire territory.

As I stated, this was a long and arduous task but one essential to create seniority options for our membership. The implementation of this pilot will be determined by the Local Chairmen of the applicable territory. Any future agreements to extend flow back to this Committee's territory will be handled in the same manner by voting the Local Chairmen. Please discuss this with your membership and feel free to ask any questions that you or they may have.


Jason Boswell
General Chairman
UTU GO-687