Members Spying on Members on the Rails?

June 20, 2008: All Teamsters want to work safely, without injury. But company programs that put the blame on union members—rather than unsafe working conditions—won’t make our jobs safer.

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) members and divisions are saying no to company spy programs that don’t improve our safety.

On the Union Pacific, management and some union leaders are working on a “Total Safety Culture” program.

The program sends out special Implementation-Teams (“I-Teams”), made up of management and union reps, to observe union members on the job.

The I-Teams are not supposed to discipline workers, but the opportunities for abuse are obvious.

The observations and the resulting data are supposed to remain totally anonymous. But the UP has already started awarding prizes to the employee who agrees to be observed the most times.

Members Say No to Spying

Other divisions are not going along.

In Selkirk, N.Y., CSX used information gathered by a joint union-company safety committee to discipline members.

Members of Selkirk BLET Division 867 voted unanimously to leave the company’s safety committee.

In Atlanta, Norfolk Southern asked BLET Division 316 to participate in safety audits.

While the division agreed in principle to audit unsafe infrastructure, it refused to monitor or observe union employees—a move that would have divided the union.

Railroad Workers United, a rank-and-file organization on the railroad, is organizing a nationwide campaign to educate members about the Blame the Worker safety programs, and what they can do to respond.

Contact RWU at info [at] railroadworkersunited.org (info [at] railroadworkersunited.org).

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