BLET Division 602 - Monthly (or whenever) Newsletters

July 2008 Newsletter


I have added some information in the members area about FLEX Spending Accounts that I would encourage you to take the time to read.

I was on vacation this month so I missed the July meeting.

I have added a page to our web site to enable our members to see what I have done about collecting their declinations.

As you can see we have not had any newsletters in a while.  I do try to send out emails to everybody who has an email address and I intend to do snail mail once in a while since some of our members still do not have email addresses.


A. J. Belscamper

Local Chairman





Next Wednesday, September 6th is our next scheduled monthly meeting. It is at 10AM at the Teamsters Hall on North Neil Street in Champaign. This meeting will also serve as a nomination forum for elections to all our Division officer positions this fall. An example of our Division offices are President, VP, Local Chairman, VLC, Legislative Representative, ALR, Secretary/Treasurer, Chaplain and etc.


I would like to remind you of the importance of these positions and the individuals you choose to elect. I am unsure of what my future will bring and I encourage the membership to look forward. Whether it is a vice or an alternate position you have the opportunity to gain the tutelage of the incumbent officers of your division before being thrust into an unanticipated situation. The knowledge and experience of your current division officers was not attained overnight or without a cost. A contract and the union are only as strong as its membership will allow. It is up to all of you to help continue in the brotherhood’s legacy.


A copy of your BLE&T 2006 Agreement is included with this letter. This has been provided for by Kujawski and Nowak, who is one of your BLE&T designated legal council. Tom Gaither, an investigator for Kujawski and Nowak will attend the September 6th meeting and provide a luncheon after its conclusion.


I would like to remind all of our membership that if you are notified of an investigation, it is up to you to ask for representation. You are the only person who has knowledge of the events as well as the formal notice of the pending investigation. You have the right to request representation by a duly authorized BLE&T representative. Article 29-B page 42.


The following members do not have a current E-mail address for contact by our division officers. They are as follows;


1. Jim Cleary

2. Steve George

3. Ron Lord

4. Eric Mc Nussen

5. Mike Obertini

6. Paul Pierce

7. Steve Siegmund


With the fluid changes that occur frequently in the Champaign area, issues and appeals can only be disseminated for membership advisories, electronically, as this is the timeliest method for notification. If you have changed your E-mail address or want to utilize this method for your benefit and the availability of additional information, please notify one our division officers of your E-mail address.



I recently had a conversation with Superintendent Owens who took exception to a crew when the conductor tied up the entire crew 20-25 minutes after the brakeman and engineer had left the property. I would be remiss if I did not remind you that when the conductor ties up the entire crew, any entries he enters in the time claim on your behalf are your responsibility. While the entries may seem innocent to all parties Mr. Owens hinted at perceptions of falsification of off duty time entries. My suggestion would to be to let the conductor tie himself up first as his entries will include any required information that he would possess from his conductors log and required to enter into the CATS system.


You can then log on to the CATS system and the conductor’s required information will transpose onto your tie up screen. You do not have to use the same off duty time as the conductor as your tie up time will then be later than his because you are now tying up on your own. This will make you in control of any entries on your time claim. The carrier has monetarily benefited by the conductor tying up the entire crew instead of everyone individually tying themselves up and with your help they will realize this some day.


I have been receiving reports of sporadic problems concerning locomotive inspections. You are required to verify and/or perform daily inspections for locomotive consists for which you will operate. I will include an E-mail from your General Chairman who is requesting your help in compiling information to progress for appeal. It is as follows;




I have had a discussion with the Carrier about engineers being told not to do the daily inspections at the initial terminal if the engines are not due at that time but may be due later that night.


What the Carrier wanted me to do is have the engineer call the yardmaster or trainmaster and request to inspect the engines at the initial terminal - giving the officer the info needed to make a determination.


I am told that sometimes it is not possible to inspect the engines at the terminal because of blocking traffic. There is not anything unreasonable about this so have everyone call and request to inspect the engines. If there seems to be a pattern of not allowing the inspections for no reason then I need to know.



John  Koonce

General Chairman BLE&T


In addition to locomotive inspections a grievance is being progressed in regard to performing additional duties not in conjunction with your working assignment. Please note “in regard to your own assignment.” While the following correspondence is written in regard to locomotive inspections and pilots it is just as applicable when you are instructed to inspect locomotives you will not use. It reads as follows;


Mr. Owens,


Three different items have been brought to my attention concerning the use of engineers in pilot service.


Article 4 - Scope of Agreement, Paragraph A provides "the primary role of an Engineer is to perform transportation duties associated with the operation of locomotives".


The question and answer to Paragraph A is:


Question: Can an Engineer working as such be required to accept a call to perform work in the capacity of another class of service, e.g. train service?


Answer: No. However, an Engineer may voluntarily accept such a call.


Article 4, Paragraph C states:


The parties recognize that to achieve maximum efficiency of operations and to expedite the movement of trains, Locomotive Engineers may perform incidental work for which they are qualified. Locomotive Engineers may perform incidental work, pursuant to the 1986 Award of Arbitration Board 458 and the Award of PEB 219 including any Dispute Committee Interpretations and applicable Side Letters, in connection with their assignments and for which they are qualified in the absence or unavailability of another employee who would otherwise perform such work.


The question and answer to Paragraph C states:


Question: Will an engineer be expected to perform duties under this contract that they don't perform today?


Answer: No.


Award 458 - Article VIII Section 3 - Incidental Work, Paragraph (d) states:


Road and yard employees in engine service and qualified ground service employees may perform the following items of work in connection with their own assignments without additional compensation:

(d) Inspect locomotives.


What the person that is instructing the pilots to inspect engines is failing to understand is each and every Item agreed to has the stipulation of in connection with their own assignments. In each case the Pilot finished his pilot work and was relieved from being a Pilot and then was instructed to inspect engines. The Engineer that was instructed to inspect these engines was not attempting to inspect engines for an assignment he was assigned to - he was instructed to inspect engines for other assignment and other employees, which is a violation of Article 4.


It is also my understanding that there are CN employees employed for this type of work at Champaign. Side Letter #7 of Award 458 states in part "Such provisions are not intended to infringe upon the work rights of another craft as established on any railroad." 

Article 11 C provides GEB's will operate on a first-in, first-out basis.........


The provisions of Article 11 D start as follows:


Unless otherwise provided for herein, Engineers assigned to GEB's will fill temporary vacancies and extra assignments at the location of the Board and at outlying points within the Seniority District, as necessary.....


When the Engineer Pilot was relieved of his Pilot service he could not be used on another assignment ahead of all the provisions of Article 11 C and D to fill a vacancy or extra assignment. Assigning a conductor to the Engineer Pilot and using him as a extra assignment is a violation of Article 11 C and D and the first out engineer would be due a runaround along with the Pilot due an additional day for being improperly used on a extra assignment ahead of the extra board (Article 11 C) or the provisions of Article 11 D. 

Article 8 Section 7 - Seniority Districts and Extra Board Locations, Seniority District 5 Zone 1 extra board protects "Assignments originating up to but excluding Paxton and down to but excluding Mattoon".  


Article 11 C provides GEB's will operate on a first-in, first-out basis.........


The provisions of Article 11 D start as follows:


Unless otherwise provided for herein, Engineers assigned to GEB's will fill temporary vacancies and extra assignments at the location of the Board and at outlying points within the Seniority District, as necessary.....


It is improper to mask a pilot vacancy at a Centralia pilot vacancy when the pilot service is needed from Champaign to Chicago. Unless all of the provisions of Article 11 C and D are complied with at Champaign first a Centralia Engineer should not be used.


The Engineer from Centralia is due an additional day for being improperly used on a seniority district to which he holds no seniority and the first out Engineer at Champaign or the first out Engineer under the provisions of Article 11 D would also be due a days pay.


Please advise the undersigned if instructions have/will be given to have these violations of the Collective Bargaining Agreement stopped.


Thanking you in advance for your immediate attention on this matter,


John R. Koonce

General Chairman, BLET


In the event you are working as a engineer pilot and later instructed to perform other duties, enter a stand alone claim for an additional days pay in addition to all earnings and leave as much information as you can for the first out GEB engineer so as to allow him the opportunity to turn in a runaround claim. General Chairman Koonce’s aforementioned letter should be used as a guideline for submitting similar claims.


In further reference to these issues I wrote as follows;


August 24, 2006




It has come to my attention that engineers being used in pilot service are being required to perform other duties. A quotation from our schedule states;


Article 15, Section 4D


4D.  Engineers acting as pilots will be paid a minimum of a basic day.


This provision is applicable when you work as a pilot and are instructed to work with another conductor or utility man in service other than as a pilot for specific trains. You are being used as a pilot and pilot only! A penalty day's pay in addition to all earning is due when this happens using the previously mentioned article from your contract.


If you are issued at TGBO at an away from home terminal as a pilot and for that specific train it is for that train and not for an undetermined conductor or utility man to be named later which you as a pilot were never a part of. Please review USOR Rules 1105 & 303. Ultimatums given by a supervisor need to be reported ASAP and only with your help can those supervisors be educated and/or replaced.


I have also been informed that pilots and engineers have been instructed to do other duties which have included inspecting engines which they would not use, operate or be part of their train. Please note the excerpt from our contract which states;


Article 4, C (Q&A)


Will an engineer be expected to perform duties under this contract that they don't perform today? 


Answer NO!


This is a violation of Article 4 C, as the engineer is being required to perform duties outside Arbitration award 458 and side letter from PEB Award 219. 


I am particularly concerned with this type of instructions being given to engineer which is a direct violation of our contract and without the benefit of Blue Signal Protection as provided for under Rule 416. This even more disturbing when mechanical personnel are on duty with the benefit of a different lock to protect this service track from entry. A penalty day's pay in addition to all earning is due when this happens using the previously mentioned article from your contract.


Please keep in mind that if a manager instructs you to perform other duties outside the parameters of our contract it is always best go now and grieve later. For matters concerning one's health and safety are another matter and please recognize that a local manager's convoluted instructions do not relieve you from the requirements of having the proper paperwork to occupy any tracks or issues where you could endanger yourself, your coworkers or your certification.


I need to know any of the specifics related to these incidents. Dates, times and as much information as possible. If you know the trainmaster or supervisor who issued these instructions, include their name too. Only with your help can these issues be corrected.


A. G. Rapp

L/C BLE&T, Div. 602

Champaign, IL


DEADHEADS/LIMBO TIME: For those of you that are not aware of monetary manipulation of your pay by the timekeeping department, watch for notations denoting a “Y” and scrutinize them completely with your records. I recently encountered a claim where the engineer had expired under the hours of service, was on duty for over 15 hours and then sent back to his home terminal. While this appears straightforward the timekeeper adjusted this engineer’s pay to reflect a “5” hour deadhead at the straight time rate instead of another 5 hours of overtime. Using this as an example it is as follows;


After further studying your timeslip although it is not defined, I think they paid you in the following manner;


10 hours straight time $339.90

2 hours and 50 minutes overtime $144.42

5 hours straight time for your deadhead $169.95

(By the Supervisor)  Total Paid = $654.27


The reason it appears they paid you this way was account you indicated 3'-34" in the van after the hours of service. Under the previous rate of pay of $330, the carrier used anything over 3 hours and 30 minutes as a cutoff and it was cheaper for them to pay a 5 hour separate service deadhead at straight time instead of using the overtime rate of pay.


Using $330 rate per day;

5 hours straight time = $165

3'-30" overtime = $173.25


Using $339.90

5 hours straight time = $169.95

3'-30" overtime = $178.45


FYI: Using the new rate of pay @  $339.90

3'-20" overtime = $169.95


In the future (when possible) remember to never show over 3 hours and 20 minutes deadheading in a cab after the hours of service. This is the best advice I can give you is to never show over this amount of time. It is required in the rules to put the time and mode of transportation in the remarks column of your timeslip, but to be sure you get paid correctly use this time frame as a guideline. Also remember that it is actual time in the van and not when the van shows up, needs gas, changes drivers or cabs, stops enroute and should end at your destination. It does not have to be cumulative until such time as you are able to quick tie or contact a crew caller.


Our contract says that the carrier can deadhead engineers by the cheaper method. (Article 17 Section 3) I contend that the method of deadheading should be determined at the time of the deadhead and by the person authorizing such deadhead, if any. This has been addressed before but every once in a while it comes up. In the future to get the most bang for your buck keep the 3-20 figure in mind as a reference. And as I have told our brothers many times, if they do not take the time to indicate the actual time within the remarks section for deadheading, (as required) there is a very good possibility they will be monetarily shortchanged any time they are on duty over 13 hours which would include AKA: limbo/deadhead time. (10 + 5 = 13)


I looked over a few of the other timeslips but did not take the time to scrutinize them all but it seems they have adjusted several. You should take the time to review them and cross check them with your records. Be sure to watch for the "Y" as the carrier contends they are not actually declining any payment but merely adjusting the amount of what you are due. The "Y" notation can be just as important as the "D" for being declined and is as easily overlooked. Be advised.




This is a subject that Art and I have discussed numerous times and we still don't see eye to eye - but since Art copied me on this I feel compelled to reply since I was the one instrumental in agreeing to the deadhead rule.


Before June 3, 2002, there was a mandatory notification of deadheading or you were automatically in separate and apart deadhead service. Separate and apart paid pre-85 engineers a basic day at freight rate and actual time at straight time rate for minutes/hours deadheaded for post-85 engineers.


Continuous time deadheading had to be figured into the mileage operated and hours worked before overtime could apply - or for that fact deadhead pay would apply.


What I agreed to and what the membership ratified was everyone was on an equal basis. Everyone would either get continues service deadheading and hours worked or 5-hours minimum separate service deadhead, whichever was the least amount.


If you do not like to see a reduction of your pay it is very simple - if your deadhead is less than the 3 hours 20 minutes overtime then claim the overtime. If your deadhead is over 3 hours and 20 minutes then claim the minimum of 5 hours straight time or actual hours deadheaded 5 hours and over. Whichever is the lesser amount the Carrier will pay per the collective bargaining agreement.


Remember deadheading is deadheading and does not start until you get into the van and does not end until you get out of the van. If you are sitting on the engine and on overtime you stay on overtime until you get into the van. The only way to measure if your overtime stops is if the van ride is over 3 hours and 20 minutes. Also when you get out of the van you are no longer in deadhead service.


Please remember a pre-85 engineer got 8 hours deadhead and a post-85 engineer got 2 hours and 50 minutes straight time for the same deadhead.


Anyway I hope this clears up any misconception that made have been made that the Carrier is messing with your pay. The payroll department is just doing what the collective bargaining agreement say it should do - which is what the membership ratified and agreed for them to do.



John Koonce


When you receive your copy of this newsletter please encourage your Division brothers to pick up their copy. I look forward to seeing you this Wednesday at our monthly meeting and the following luncheon.


A. G. Rapp

Local Chairman

BLE&T, Div. 602

Champaign, IL


BLE&T  Division 602 January 2005 Newsletter

Our next BLE&T Division 602 Meeting is 10AM, Wednesday Feb. 2, 2005
I have heard a rumor that the FRA is planning on auditing Champaign during the first week of February. Areas they are observing are radio procedure, rules compliance as well as work equipment. Remember to check the locomotive daily inspections cards and blue sheets.
Our next BLE&T Division 602 Meeting is 10AM, Wednesday Feb. 2, 2005 at the Teamsters Hall at 908 North Neil Street which is on the East side of Neil Street south of Bradley Ave.
We will have a guest speaker who intends to take everyone out for lunch after our meeting.
Some issues on our agenda are as follows;
1.    The proposed GCA Dues increase
2.   Lodging at Fulton
3.  Crew tie up times
4.  Crew Van problems
5.  Source of supply violations
6.  New Business  
I have posted your General Chairman’s letter, last week, expressing the request to increase our dues to our General Committee of Adjustment by $7 per member. Please take the time to read this letter which is posted at the yard office. A summary of the reasons for the first dues increase since 2000 are as follows;
1.  Section 6 contract meetings on every property (5) covered under the umbrella of our General Committee of Adjustment
2.  Increased expenses for our General Secretary & Treasurer. FYI: The bulk of the accounting process is being transferred to the GS&T instead of the responsibilities being on each Division S&T.
3.  A possible loss of approximately 20 BLE&T members if the UTU is successful in implementing a seniority maintenance fee on the Mid South. (Our GCA does not intend to put the same mandate on any demoted engineers who might working as a trainman thereby forcing our railroad brothers to pay double dues. Their seniority will be maintained as an engineer without the maintenance fee)
4.  The lease on our GCA at the Memphis office expires in July. If the same office is retained the lease costs will rise.
5.  Increase of insurance healthcare costs for our General Chairman and his secretary. (Our GC is currently enrolled in IC Hospital Association and enjoys the same benefits as us. The CN has served notice that they want to leave ICHA and are currently moving their officers from that program. I am not sure what or if our medical coverage will change but it is highly unlikely that it will remain a cost to our members of $25 per month.)
This is a brief summary of what the near future expenses are foreseeable in 2005 but I think we can all appreciate that things cost more than 5 years ago. I had one of our brothers ask why an increase was not initiated during the spring of 2004 at our last GCA meeting. At that meeting the increased costs associated with the GS&T was discussed and not knowing to what extent the additional duties would require we opted that a dues increase was not necessary at that time. Now, as listed in items 1, 3 & 5 and to forego a large assessment later your executive committee consisting of General Chairman Koonce, GS &T Whitchurch and 2nd Vice General Chairman Art Rapp, we concur that a dues increase was in order. I do not like spending our brothers money unless it is necessary. Given the information I have been presented with, I am in favor of this dues increase which should suffice until the GCA meeting in 2008.
I would like to poll our division members whether they are in favor of this dues increase. While I feel that a $7 increase is in order it is my intention to vote the sentiments of my division. I would like to have a response from all our members ASAP. You may respond by E-mail, leave a message on my fax line at 217-469-9076 or tell me at work. Please pass this information on to all our members to inform them of this proposed increase. I await your response.
I have demonstrated to some of you how to conduct a train history inquiry regarding Centralia (District 6) crews used on within District 5. FYI: You can conduct this same search by changing the District and Sub from IL CH to IL CE, which will get you in the Centralia District. After this you should enter No. 6 (Train History Inquiry) and include a date to search. Put an "X" beside the train such as an L599 and press enter. Comments regarding that train will be included with the crew call sheet. From that you will be able to determine if a District 6 crew was used improperly within District 5. You can help police our agreement by watching this each time you go to work and find out which of our District 5 brothers are being run-around. A few of the District terminal codes are as follows;
1.  Champaign  IL - CH   (Extras will be listed on a CP pool inquiry)
2.  Centralia     IL - CE    (Extra will be listed on a CE pool inquiry)
3.  Effingham   IL - PE
4.  Decatur      CG - DC
5.  Fulton         IL - BF    (Extras will be listed on a BF pool inquiry)
6.  Markam      CG - MK (Extras will be listed on a MP pool inquiry)
I hope this information will be of aid to all of you to help to watch for potential run-arounds for your brothers. This same information is helpful to determine if an extra train is being run from an adjacent district which will affect your work status. All this information is accessible from your home computer on the CN website.
I look forward to seeing all of you at our Division meeting next Wednesday. You are also welcome to bring your spouse to the luncheon after the meeting.
A. G. Rapp
L/C BLE&T Div. 602
Champaign, IL