March 22, 2004
CHICAGO (March 22)—The UTU’s Illinois Legislative Board today filed a Formal Complaint asking the Illinois Commerce Commission to order the Kansas City Southern Railroad (KCS) to construct a new crew facility in East St. Louis in compliance with all aspects of the Illinois Administrative Code.
The Formal Complaint, which has been assigned Docket Number T04-0027, came more than three months after a Commission inspector found the East St. Louis facility out of compliance with nine provisions of the IAC.
“Ironically, this Complaint was filed in connection with what ostensibly is a ‘new’ facility,” said Illinois Legislative Director Joseph C. Szabo. “The original yard office at that site was so disreputable that KCS demolished it and replaced it with a series of trailers.
“But the trailer set aside as the locker and lunch room for crews is clearly out of compliance,” Szabo said. “It has been filthy and non-functional, with inadequate hot water, a single leaking toilet, inadequate benches for changing clothes, inadequate square footage and no separate changing space for female employees. It fails to provide an adequate lunch room and is cleaned only at irregular intervals, when at all.”
Even worse than the condition of the trailer, however, has been the response from KCS officials at East St. Louis, Szabo said.
“When the condition of the trailer first became apparent we tried to ‘jawbone’ them into voluntary compliance,” Szabo said.
“But they adopted a totally aloof and unresponsive attitude. When we began sending written notices of non-compliance, we never received the courtesy of a written reply or even the remotest effort to work with UTU towards compliance.”
Szabo said that at the request of UTU Local#1929 Chairman Don Eddy and Vice Local Chairman Robert Gore, he first wrote a letter inquiring about the East St. Louis facility to KCS Terminal Superintendent Taulton Dancy, Jr., on November 13, 2003. On December 5, Szabo made a personal inspection visit to the facility.
After more than a month passed with no reply to his letter, Szabo wrote to Dancy again on December 15, 2003, asking the railroad to propose a plan and timetable for making improvements needed to bring the facility into compliance.
No reply to the second letter was received. On January 13, Assistant Legislative Director John Burner conducted a follow-up inspection along with KCS Trainmaster Greg Haney, ICC Inspector Robert Waggoner, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers State Chairman Ed Way, and Eddy and Gore of Local #1929.
The delegation found conditions had deteriorated since the first inspection. Floor space still failed to meet the state minimum of square footage per employee. Adequate furniture and a lunchroom had not been provided, hot water was not available, and the lone toilet had begun to leak onto the floor. Separate facilities for female employees were still missing, the plumbing fixtures were dirty and stained, and soap, paper towels and toilet paper were unavailable.
Szabo said that following his inspections the Commerce Commission itself sent letters to KCS Trainmaster Haney, one on December 12 and another on January 23, but the railroad failed to provide appropriate follow-up for compliance.
Frustrated by the foot dragging, UTU took matters into its own hands and filed a petition for a Hearing before the Commission, requesting construction of a new facility as well as retroactive punitive fines for each and every day the facility has been in non-compliance.
“Our members are entitled to a modern, compliant crew facility at East St. Louis, and by law, Kansas City Southern must provide it,” he said. “And we’re getting good at winning these cases when the carriers fail to do the right thing. Just ask Norfolk Southern or the Iowa Interstate. We’re now expanding that ‘education process’ to Kansas City Southern.”