Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rail Unions Seek to Halt CSX Merger

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rail Unions Seek to Halt CSX Merger

Article excerpt

Railroad union officials are making a last-ditch effort to stop

CSX's and Norfolk Southern's $10.2 billion bid to acquire

Conrail. Six rail union presidents yesterday asked the federal

regulatory agency overseeing the transaction to postpone its

vote scheduled for Monday.

Union officials made the request of Surface Transportation

Board Chairman Linda Morgan while at the same time asking the

regulatory board's other member, Gus Owen, to abstain from

Monday's vote.

The unions charge that the board members are anti-labor and

predisposed to favor the Conrail deal. They also think that a

full three-member board should make the decision. The third seat

on the board remains vacant and the unions want Owen to be

replaced.

The demands came yesterday as the federal agency that regulates

railroads began two days of oral testimony on the transaction in

Washington, D.C.

"We have some serious concerns about Owen's actions," said Les

Parmelee, president of the American Train Dispatchers. "We don't

think he should vote with an ethical cloud over his head."

Federal investigators recently began to scrutinize Owen's

business and financial dealings while he was a member of the

Surface Transportation Board.

Owen said he would not abstain from the vote and he denied

committing any unethical behavior.

"This is a classic case where the regulatory agency is

controlled by those who they are supposed to regulate," said

Joel Myron, director of research for the Brotherhood of

Maintenance of Way Employees.

"The board now consists of one biased person and one shill," he

added.

Mryon said the $10.2 billion transaction is too important to be

decided by an incomplete board.

The board had no comment on the unions' request to delay the

vote, according to spokesman Dennis Watson.

The unions oppose the transaction because it will allow the

railroads to renegotiate existing contracts, threatening jobs

and possibly changing work conditions. …

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