CSX Corp. moving 10% of area dispatchers

By Timothy J. Gibbons
Published by Florida Times-Union on October 5, 2005.

CSX Corp. is eliminating about 10 percent of its dispatcher jobs in Jacksonville and moving the positions to other locations, the company told the dispatchers' union Monday.

Although several employees have said they fear the moves are the beginning of widespread cuts in the ranks of the 340 dispatchers who work here, CSX officials have said there are no plans to further scale back the workforce.

The announcement of job cuts comes on the heels of union members telling the company they are considering going on strike because of concerns about new dispatching software that has proven difficult to use, according to two union members who asked not to be named because of concerns about their jobs.

The first round of cuts will come toward the end of January: 20 dispatchers positions in Jacksonville will be cut, with 15 of those jobs moving to CSX's dispatch operation center in Chicago. The other five workers will be absorbed into other jobs in the company. According to the union and the company, CSX then plans on cutting another 15 jobs here in order to move them to Indianapolis.

The positions being eliminated here handled trains traveling near Chicago and the Great Lakes region.

CSX has four dispatch centers responsible for routing trains along its 21,000 miles of track. The vast majority of dispatchers have been concentrated in Jacksonville since 1988, when the company established a centralized operating facility that oversees the entire network.

Twenty-five dispatchers now work in Chicago, as well as 340 in Jacksonville, 80 in Albany, N.Y., and 65 in Indianapolis.

Moving jobs from Jacksonville to the other centers is necessary because of operational needs, said CSX spokesman Gary Sease.

Despite employee fears, Sease said, "We are committed to our centralized dispatching center here in Jacksonville. Any adjustments in staffing would not involve a large number of people."

Dispatchers are also concerned about CSX's Next Generation Dispatching system, a new computer system some dispatchers have been complaining about for more than a year, saying it makes their job more difficult and leads to safety problems.

"The union views it as a serious issue that is putting our job in jeopardy," said one of the union members. "It's not working like it's supposed to."

Six dispatchers have been fired in the past month, in part because they have not been able to work efficiently with the new system, the union official said, and partly because of other issues with management. The company refused to comment on the issue, citing its policy about not commenting on labor negotiations.

Representatives from the local chapter of the American Train Dispatchers Association have been in talks with the national office about the possibility of a strike, one union member said.

"It could have some further consequences," the member said. "I don't want it to get out that we're going to walk out or anything, but it's getting along that line."


This is a showcase of the work done by Timothy J. Gibbons during a journalism career now stretching back more than a decade.

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