Fort Worth-based BNSF Railway says it wants to create a new interdivisional freight line, known as the Northwest Triangle, to run between Auburn, Pasco and Vancouver, Wash., beginning in June.
Since the new line will not run through a home terminal, BNSF says it can implement the change on 20-days notice under the collective bargaining agreement. If that was not the case, BNSF says it would have to engage in additional procedures.
After presenting the plan at an August meeting, neither the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen nor the United Transport Union challenged the home terminal factor, the railway says.
Now, however, the union has characterized the line as a "major dispute" or unilateral change under the agreement, and strike-worthy.
"On May 4, 2012, BLET General Chairman Matt Wilson refused to agree that the dispute at issue was a minor dispute, and he expressly reserved the right to consider this dispute a major dispute if he was not granted certain concessions unrelated to these Northwest Triangle Operational change," the complaint states.
BNSF says this position is "indefensible," that the dispute is minor based on the language of the agreements, arbitral authority and past practices, as well as Wilson's willingness to arbitrate if he is granted the concessions.
It says Wilson is holding the railway "hostage to his major-dispute threat" to get the concessions.
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