Order Ending Sante Fe Railroad Strike Victory For Workers, Union Says
CHICAGO (AP) _ A judge’s order ending a six-day strike against Santa Fe Railway Co. ″is a victory for our people,″ a union official said.
″We’ll go back to work and hopefully they’ll abide by the law,″ Merrill Eastman, general chairman of the United Transportation Union, said Thursday night.
Earlier Thursday, after the agreement was announced, Santa Fe spokeswoman Susan Metcalf said: ″The railway agreed that it would not operate trains without union employees. The unions agreed that they would terminate the work stoppage and take necessary steps to end picketing as expeditiously as possible.″
Operations were to return to normal this afternoon on three West Coast Amtrak routes where travel had been disrupted because of the strike, Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black said in a telephone interview today from Washington, D.C. He said cancellations and rerouting of some routes had forced several thousand people to find other transportation in California.
The strike, called by two unions representing a total of 9,300 workers, stemmed from the use of non-union labor in the test run Saturday of an experimental rail car designed to operate on either roadways or rails.
Fifteen unions representing 10,000 other workers honored picket lines, slowing Santa Fe’s freight operations in the 13 states it serves to 65 percent to 75 percent of normal, with those trains run by supervisors.
Late Wednesday, the striking unions filed a request for a temporary restraining order against the railroad’s using its experimental car with non- union employees, said Robert Hart, an attorney for the Cleveland-based United Transportation Union.
The unions had maintained it was a clear contract violation for the railroad to operate with non-union personnel. The railroad said unions were angered because Santa Fe wanted each crew to operate the train over a longer distance than was called for in their contract, a railway spokesman said.
A hearing was scheduled Thursday in federal court, but the sides met briefly beforehand and reached an agreement, said Santa Fe spokesman Robert Gehrt.
″We were able to resolve it in the hallways, basically, is what it amounted to,″ he said.
The sides presented their agreement to U.S. District Judge Susan Getzendanner, who signed it, Gehrt said.