No Talks Scheduled In Santa Fe Strike
CHICAGO (AP) _ No talks are scheduled between striking employees and the Atchison-Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Co. and the railroad continued to run trains with its supervisors, company officials said Sunday.
″We’re keeping the main lines operating,″ said Santa Fe spokesman Robert Gehrt. ″There will be a reduced level of service to the branch lines.″
Members of the United Transportation Union and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers went on strike Saturday throughout Santa Fe’s 12,000- mile, 13-state rail network.
In addition, Amtrak canceled two train routes over Santa Fe lines because of the strike by thousands of engineers, conductors and other employees of the railroad.
Santa Fe spokesman Richard Hall said Amtrak trains on both routes were normally operated by members of the striking unions.
The strike was prompted by the company’s decision to test the ″roadrailer,″ a new type of truck trailer that can be driven on the highway as well as ride on a train.
Union members refused to run the test train because the railroad wanted each crew to operate the train over a longer distance than called for in union contracts, Hall said.
The test train, operated by supervisors, left Chicago Saturday en route to a General Motors assembly plant in Van Nuys, Calif., company officials said.
″If they can run this one, they can run 10 tomorrow and leave us all home,″ said Robert Hart, an attorney for the Cleveland-based UTU. ″If we don’t have a right to those jobs, they might as well tell us all we’re fired.″
Gehrt said there were two supervisors on each freight train being operated by the railroad. Normally there are four or five people in a crew: a conductor, an engineer, one or two brakemen and sometimes a fireman, Hart said.
Hall said the Santa Fe’s major emphasis would be on maintaining service on the main line from Los Angeles to Chicago, a trip that takes two days.
″We’re operating between two-thirds and three-quarters of regular service and that’s the level we hope to maintain,″ Hall said, adding that service would not be shut off completely to any state.
Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, between Los Angeles and Chicago, was canceled, along with Amtrak’s San Joaquin, between Oakland and Bakersfield, Calif., said Hall. Both trains run on lines leased from Santa Fe, he said.
Another Amtrak train over leased Santa Fe lines - the San Diegan, which runs between Los Angeles and San Diego more than a dozen times a day - continued to operate because union members have not picketed its terminals, Hall said.
He said he could not estimate what the strike was costing the railroad per day.
Santa Fe has 24,000 employees, of which nearly 20,000 are members of more than a dozen unions. The railway operates in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.
″A large proportion of the union workforce is on strike, but I can’t give you a number,″ said Hall. Some workers had crossed picket lines and some areas were not being picketed, he said.
Hart said to his knowledge all UTU members working on the Santa Fe were on strike, ″and that’s about six or seven thousand.″
Ronald E. Dean, a spokesman for the Cleveland-based locomotive engineers union, said Sunday in a telephone interview from Boulder, Colo., that 2,300 members of his union - all those working for the Santa Fe - also were on strike.