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Economy and Business

Wheeling & Lake Erie union members back at work
But the judge's order that forbade their strike also blocks supervisors from doing union work

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
Wheeling and Lake Erie traces its routes to 1871, when the private railroad carried coal and iron ore between Lake Erie and southeastern Ohio.
Courtesy of Wikemedia
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In The Region:

Some 100 workers at a Stark County-based railway are getting back to work. But a federal judge’s order that ended their one-day strike also blocks the railway from a practice that helped trigger the work stoppage in the first place.

LISTEN: Questions over supervisors' roles

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The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen hit the picket lines Friday outside the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway’s operations in Brewster and those in Akron, Canton and four other cities. About 12 hours later, U.S. District Judge John Adams told them to get back to work.

The workers had accused company supervisors of doing union jobs, and claims Wheeling and Lake Erie has cut back on two-person crews. The union says the railroad is trying to eliminate trainmen.

Here's the judge's temporary restraining order: 

The railway went to court, saying the strike was illegal and asking for a temporary restraining order. Judge Adams agreed, saying the “work stoppage is unlawful under the Railway Labor Act.” Beyond that, he says the strike was likely to “cause irreparable harm to WLE and the public” by disrupting commerce.

But Adams also conditioned his restraining order on the railroad’s agreement “not to use supervisors or other management employees in place of engineers.”

Adams order holds until a hearing on at an as-yet undetermined date.

According to its Web site, Wheeling & Lake Erie operates sixty-two locomotives, and runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The privately owned railway got its start in 1871, largely to ship coal and iron ore between southeast Ohio and Lake Erie. It has more than 300 employees and has seen a surge in business tied to the boom in oil-and-gas drilling in the eastern part of Ohio. 

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