June 4, 2008
CHICAGO (June 4)—The Canadian National Railway will pay a $2000 fine to the Illinois Commerce Commission and be subject to a Cease and Desist Order as a result of an ICC finding that CN officials interfered with a state walkway inspection last October 18 when it removed UTU officers from the property.
UTU Illinois Legislative Director Joseph C. Szabo, Local Chairman UTU #1299 Bill Hardlannert and Local Chairman UTU # 72 Mike Reilly were ordered to leave CN property and were threatened with arrest by CN Police during an ICC inspection of the carrier’s Glenn and Hawthorne Yards on the south side of Chicago.
“As a result of CN’s conduct towards the UTU representatives, the inspections of the Yards were delayed and (Commission) Staff was not permitted to have the assistance and expertise of the UTU representatives during the inspections,” the Order from the Commission stated.
The ICC, on its own initiative, issued a citation against CN on December 5, 2007 for violating Section 18c-7503 (1)(b)(ii) of the Illinois Commercial Transportation Law.
At an April 10, 2008 Hearing CN, while admitting no guilt, agreed to pay the maximum $2,000 fine and to abide by a Cease and Desist Order. Failure in the future to abide by the Commission Cease and Desist Order could result in criminal prosecution.
The incident traces its origin back to January 10, 2007, when the UTU complained to the Commerce Commission that members at Hawthorne and Glenn Yards were subject to poorly maintained walkway conditions. An initial joint inspection took place on March 23, 2007, when representatives of UTU, CN and ICC staff found numerous violations at Hawthorne Yard. The parties agreed at that time that an inspection of Glenn Yard would not be productive as conditions were too far out of compliance, and that a joint re-inspection would be conducted by the parties in September.
Under the Illinois Commercial Transportation Law, the Commerce Commission has jurisdiction over safety conditions in railroad yards and is authorized to conduct inspections.
“The use of joint inspections is a time-honored practice that goes back at least 50 years, perhaps quite longer,” Szabo said. “I’ve conducted more than 100 of theme over the past two decades, with the vast majority being very amicable and productive. CN’s over-reaction was a first.”
In its Order, the Commission found “that in furtherance of its railroad safety activities, (Commission) Staff may conduct joint inspections with the authorized state director and/or a union representative of each craft of employees working for the railroad involved in the inspection, in compliance with applicable laws and reasonable guidelines…”
“That’s simply standard procedure and the typical protocol that UTU has always followed during joint inspections,” Szabo said. “CN’s conduct in ejecting our union from the property was unprecedented and unjustified. Thanks to the Commission’s finding, this won’t be a problem in the future.”
The Commission further ordered that it shall retain jurisdiction over the Parties and subject matter for the entry of any Supplemental Orders it deems just and necessary.