For Labor Day weekend, 1978, a college friend and I planned a three day trip to Buffalo, with the primary objective of seeing some of the remaining ex-Penn Central RSD5’s before they were retired. We arrived at the ex-NYC Frontier yard mid-afternoon and found all Conrail activity to be business as usual. Across town at Norfolk & Western’s Bison Yard, it was a different scene.
The Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks had been on strike against the N&W since July, and the other unions refused to cross the picket lines. This left management and non-union labor to run the N&W. The BRAC tried to strike neighboring lines, but each attempt was met with court injunctions. The dispute over the BRAC’s ability to picket other railroads ended up in the US Supreme Court, where on September 26 Chief Justice Warren Berger voided the injunctions, triggering a BRAC strike against 74 additional railroads. The next day, the Carter administration hosted a 24-hour negotiation. Still unresolved, President Carter ordered a 60-day cooling off period, and the strikers were ordered back to work on the N&W and the other 74 roads. During the cooling off period, the federal government mediated a permanent agreement, and the strike was over.
During the acrimonious strike, some vandalism was reported. Here an overturned boxcar is blocking two yard ladders, but I don’t know if the derailment was an act of vandalism, or if it occurred as a result of having inexperienced crews operating the railroad.