100 railroad workers ordered to halt strike

Union says it shut down W&LE in Ohio and Pa.over cuts in crew staffing


CAREY, Ohio — A railroad workers’ union went on strike against the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway Friday morning, claiming the company had reduced crew sizes on its trains in violation of a labor agreement and used managers to do union members’ work.

Less than 12 hours after the strike began at 5 a.m., a federal judge in Akron issued a temporary restraining order to halt the walkout by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, declaring the union’s characterization of its issues as a “major dispute” inaccurate.

BLET, a unit of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters representing more than 100 W&LE employees, said it had shut down the railroad with its picket lines at terminals in Carey and six other locations in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

“We were forced to take this action in defense of our contracts,” said Bob Linsey, the union’s general chairman, who alleged the Wheeling began using single-person crews “after serving bargaining proposals to eliminate the restrictions [on crew size], an outright admission that it presently has no right to operate this way.”

Wheeling & Lake Erie, based in Brewster, Ohio, did not return a call seeking comment, nor did an official at National Lime & Stone, whose quarry in Carey is one of the railroad's major shippers.

W&LE also provides freight service to a quarry near Bellevue, Ohio, and to various industries in northeast Ohio and southwest Pennsylvania. It operates trains into Toledo to exchange cars with two other railroads in the city, but does not base any crews or have any customers in Toledo.