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LOS ANGELES, CA – Metrolink conductors and engineers are objecting to  an agreement between Metrolink and its new operator, Amtrak because it would require crews to pass personality tests in order to keep their jobs.

Metrolink - Southern California Regional Commuter Rail Service

Two railroad unions are objecting to the agreement and are threatening a boycott of the new personality-profiling tests that are being required in the wake of the disastrous Chatsworth crash in 2008 that killed 25 people.

The Chatsworth crash occurred on September 12, 2008 and was one of the worst train accidents in California history. In the accident, 25 people were killed and 135 were injured when a Metrolink commuter train collided with a Union Pacific freight train. It is believed that the train conductor, Robert M. Sanchez, was distracted while engaging in text messaging at the time of the accident. The Metrolink train ran through a red signal and crashed head-on into the freight train. Many wrongful death lawsuits followed and losses for  Metrolink are expected to reach $500 million.

In the new agreement, experienced Metrolink railroad workers are being required to pass the written personality tests to continue working on the system.

Under the current contract language, Metrolink railroad workers run the risk of losing their jobs if they refuse to take the tests.

Amtrak is to be the new operator of the Metrolink commuter rail service in Southern California. The outgoing contractor, Connex Railroad, is not pursuing a contract extension to operate Metrolink since the Chatsworth crash.

Metrolink officials have the viewpoint that the personality tests are part of an effort to improve safety after the 2008 Chatsworth disaster, but at least one union official, Tim Smith, California legislative chairman of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen feels that it’s a “witch hunt.”

Union leaders argue that the tests are not relevant measures of a trained and experienced employee’s ability to safely operate trains.

Union leaders point out that they don’t object to testing of potential new hires who don’t yet belong to the union. But they also say that forcing existing railroad workers to pass the tests could cost good workers their jobs.

Ray Garcia of the United Transportation Union, which represents the conductors stated that passing a personality test has never, ever been required of seasoned workers moving between operating contractors on railroads like Metrolink.

According to an Amtrak statement, one of the tests is a “personality inventory” for engineers. It is designed to test work habits and seek out people who are labeled “focused introverts” who are good at repetitive tasks and who don’t become distracted while operating a train.

Author, Rich Connell from The Los Angeles Times contributed to this story.

Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP, is a top nationwide FELA lawyer law firm representing railroad workers injured on the job who need qualified and experienced lawyers knowledgeable in the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). FELA is not workers compensation and it governs the employee’s right to recovery, governing the rights and remedies of railroad employees. For more information about FELA, FELA Law, and FELA rights, contact an experienced FELA lawyer through Gordon, Elias & Seely, L.L.P. for expert advice.

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