Updates

Brothers and Sisters,

This week, Asst. Chairman Frederick and I were in Norfolk for a full schedule of meetings and a Public Law Board. I just want to relay some of the items that were covered this week as they are of great interest to our members.

Monday, we had a meeting with the Carrier concerning our on-property negotiations. As you know, talks stalled approximately a year and a half ago with the Carrier deciding they did not want to negotiate. After monthly attempts to revive the negotiations, the Carrier finally agreed to meet once again. We submitted a proposal to the Carrier. Lengthy talks continued that afternoon and it was agreed that we were making progress and that we would meet again in October. Both sides will submit another proposal at that time working towards coming to an agreement.

Tuesday morning we had a meeting with VP Terry Evans and Mark Manion. This was a Labor/Management meeting that included every General Chairman from both organizations. The theme of the day was business and the tremendous levels we are experiencing. Business levels are so high that it is impossible to keep up right now. I just want to relay some of the facts and figures that were put out. Car volumes are exceeding 2006 levels which were record levels for the company. This business includes business we haven't handled for years that we have gained from other rail and truck carriers. We handled 87 loaded crude oil trains last month, in contrast we handled zero two years ago. In addition, we are handling stone, ethanol, and fracking sand that go along with the crude oil process. The Illinois Basin coal business has exploded. 3000 cars will be loaded this week and the customers are asking for increased capacity. There are new destinations coming for that coal, so some new trains and new routing is expected. Automobile traffic is also up tremendously as Jeep in Toledo was mentioned with loading huge amounts daily. Grain season is also expected to be the best in our nation's history which will be challenging with the increased business levels. Car loading for the week of August 16th were 156,245 cars which was the highest week in the history of our company. Recent weeks have been in that same ballpark and no decrease is seen anytime soon. 1700 people will be hired this year, and they are aggressively sending LETs. There are still around 100 people furloughed over the system but they have all been offered work elsewhere and most have been furloughed for 3-12 years. Bellevue's expansion project will be completed by year end. It was assured that there will be no impact on Elkhart or Conway operations.

We also discussed that the extreme business levels led to severe manpower shortages especially on the mainline between Chicago and Cleveland. This is what led to the knee-jerk temporary transfers, availability bonus, and Select Rest that was rolled out for Elkhart, Toledo, Bellevue, and Cleveland. They admitted there were a lot of things they should have done different, but time was of the essence so that business would not be lost. We pointed out that the availability bonus should be available system-wide since almost all areas are short on manpower and members are working and committed to moving trains and maintaining the business. We also discussed changes needed to the availability bonus and the Select Rest. Those changes will be considered by upper management.

Tuesday afternoon we had a meeting concerning Flowback. We discussed the Pilot Project on the Illinois Division and some minor tweaks that we all feel need to be made. It was agreed to consult with Crew Management programmers to see the easiest way to achieve those changes. In addition, we discussed extending Flowback to the rest of our territory. It was agreed that should be done on a Pilot Project basis to start so that any changes could be addressed. Again, Crew Management needed to be consulted to see what kind of timeframe we could get the Project in place. We are shooting to have it in place by the first option date in April 2015 when flow is allowed. I will keep everyone posted.

Wednesday we had our third Public Law Board this year. We will try to schedule another one before the end of the year. Government funding is still pretty much non-existent so it will more than likely be another party-pay board where us and NS share the costs. This has become a disturbing trend, but it is fortunate we have been able to be in a position to have party-pay boards. It has allowed us to keep pretty current on handling dismissal cases. We have around 10 in our office currently that will be handled with the next board.

Fraternally,

Jason Boswell
General Chairman
SMART-TD GO687