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GC's Response on Mentors for Trip Optimizer
Posted On: Feb 28, 2014

From: Lance Thomas []
Sent: Tuesday, April 02, 2013 10:33 PM
To: Matt Wilson
Cc: Matt Brandt; Jerry LaPrath; Kent Psota
Subject: Mentors for TO

The vote not to provide mentors for Trip optimizer at the regular meeting on 04/02 was tied with the President having to break the tie.  I planned on motioning to reconsider at the next meeting 04/18 and I wanted to run the decision by you before telling the Railroad, but one of the brothers ran right down and told the carrier. 

They will most likely be getting in touch with you to get the Engineer names they want.

If they don’t get them the Carrier plans to use UTU Engineers at their discretion to do the Mentor jobs.

The reservations most expressed at the meeting were the technology takes our jobs don’t get behind.  My problem with it is that I run the train throttle and brake keeping my situational awareness in the game if I put the thing in autopilot now I’m just a passenger waiting to fall asleep.  I’ve confronted this carrier on several safety issues everyone has been brushed off as “we checked into it and we don’t have to change it” why would this be any different?

Lance Thomas




This is an issue of concern to all of our divisions, so I'm going to copy all of them on this email.


I can see this issue both ways.  A part of me rejects the idea of assisting the railroad in training engineers (ourselves) on how to use new technology that will serve to eventually eliminate our jobs.   On the other hand, if we refuse to do the training, we are reneging on the commitment that we made to the company in our 2007 on-property agreement wherein we as locomotive engineers agreed to continue to operate the locomotive in the future under our new scope rule as these new technologies continue to change the operating environment in the locomotive cab. 


We cannot have it both ways.  It may seem distasteful to train and be trained on these new technologies but the training and use of these new technologies is going to occur despite how we feel.  Moreover, if we refuse to train ourselves, the company is going to get it done without our involvement.  As you know, we do not have a scope rule giving engineers exclusive rights to be the employees providing training to engineers.  It would be an easy matter for the company to pick other employees from any occupation on the railroad to be exempt employees to be trainers.  They could even contract it out.


I believe that we need to stay engaged with the company so they don't go outside our organization and/or craft to get trainers.  We need to be involved so that our input continues to shape the future of this ever changing environment in the locomotive cab.   If you fear the future now, picture a scenario where we pull out of training and the company picks the UTU as a consequence and then going forward the UTU decides along with the company on how these new technologies would be designed to enhance the craft of the conductor at the expense of the need for an engineer on the job. 


I think that those who are pushing to pull out have not given this much thought.  I suggest that your division reconsider what it is doing.  What we need more than anything right now is a better mentor agreement.  We need an agreement that keeps us in this game of providing the training.  An agreement that gives us exclusive rights to the work.  Mentors could be used in a multitude of situations far beyond what they are doing today.  They could provide oversight to engineer trainers during periods when  LETP students are training. They could design and facilitate training classes to train these trainers.    We could be creating jobs for engineers. 


As I said earlier, I can see this both ways but our preservation is at risk if we disengage.  I also know how emotional this issue is to all of us.  However, I trust that cooler heads will prevail as this issue is further discussed within your division.


I appreciate your reaching out to me so that I can weigh-in, for whatever it's worth.




Matt Wilson

General Chairman

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainman Div624
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