Santa Fe Rolls on at Reduced Capacity in Third Day of Walkout
CHICAGO (AP) _ The strikebound Santa Fe Railway Co. was operating at up to three-fourths capacity Monday, the third day of a walkout by nearly 20,000 workers protesting what they call a contract violation, railroad officials said.
No talks were scheduled in the strike, which forced cancellation of two Amtrak passenger trains that carry about 1,500 passengers daily between the Midwest and West Coast. The trains use Santa Fe track and crews.
The strike was called because Santa Fe did not use union members in conducting a test run of a special freight train called a ″roadrailer,″ which can both run on track and be driven on highways, union officials charged.
Union members refused to operate the train because the company wanted each crew to run the train over a greater distance than provided for in union contracts, said Santa Fe spokesman Richard Hall.
Hall said the company on Monday asked the unions to negotiate, and they refused.
Paul Thompson, vice president of the Cleveland-based United Transportation Union, which represents 7,000 of the strikers, said the unions were willing to meet with the company and were waiting for Santa Fe to make the first move.
Santa Fe has been operating since the strike began Saturday at 65 percent to 75 percent of normal capacity over its 13-state, 12,000-mile line, using supervisors to run the trains, said Hall.
Ronald E. Dean, a vice president of the Cleveland-based Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, with 2,300 members on strike, said there had been ″derailments, collisions, running by red signals, all kind of reports of difficulties″ since the strike began Saturday.
″They always say that, on every strike and every railroad,″ Hall countered.
Four cars carrying sulfuric acid derailed early Monday in Texas when a Santa Fe freight train hit an empty tank car, he said.
Members of the crew suffered bumps and bruises, said Robert Gehrt, director of public relations for Santa Fe.
There were early charges of sabotage, but Hall said later that high winds may have pushed the empty car onto the line.
The test train, pulling 30 ″roadrailers,″ arrived early Monday at the General Motors assembly plant in Van Nuys, Calif., said Santa Fe spokesman Roy Huntoon in Las Angeles, adding the company had no immediate plans for additional test runs.
Amtrak spokesman John Jacobsen said the Southwest Chief, which operates between Chicago and Los Angeles, and the San Joaquins, between Oakland and Bakersfield, Calif. were cancelled. They serve about 1,460 passengers daily, he said.
Service on the Los Angeles-to-Chicago Desert Wind also was disrupted between Yermo, Calif., and Los Angeles, he said.