Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak labor unions’

Amtrak Workers Rally for More Federal Aid

October 1, 2020

Amtrak workers represented by three labor unions held rallies on Wednesday in an effort to drum up support for additional emergency COVID-19 aid for the intercity rail passenger carrier.

Rallies were held in Washington, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles seeking the aid in order to stave off furloughs and reductions in operations of long-distance trains.

Amtrak is planning to layoff nearly 2,000 employees and operate most long-distance trains three days a week rather than daily.

News reports indicate that members of Congress are discussing additional pandemic aid, but it’s uncertain if additional funding for Amtrak will be part of any package that can win approval of both chambers.

The Senate has balked at a House package approved in May and is seen as unlikely to adopt all of the provisions of another package the House expects to vote on this week.

That latter bill would include emergency funding for Amtrak, public transit and the airline industry.

Some rallies were held at primary Amtrak stations although one was held at the station in Dearborn, Michigan, a Detroit suburb, while another was held at the Capitol in Washington.

The unions involved included the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation; Transportation Communication Union ; and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.

Senator Steve Daines (R-Montana), has proposed an amendment to a Senate pandemic aid bill that would prohibit Amtrak from implementing “service cuts or furlough or terminate the employment of any employee during the period beginning on Oct. 1, 2020.”

Trains magazine reported that the House bill pandemic relief bill under consideration proposes $2.5 billion for Amtrak.

That funding would be divided into $1 billion to maintain long-distance daily frequencies, $1.4 billion for the Northeast Corridor, and the rest to bolster state payments for corridor service.

The magazine said Amtrak has in the meantime begun moving some equipment to storage locations, which could be a sign that management lacks confidence that additional aid for Amtrak from Congress is likely to be approved.

Amtrak Workers Contend Jobs in Jeopardy

October 12, 2018

The union representing Amtrak food service workers believes that as many as 1,700 of its members may lose their jobs if Amtrak outsources its food service to a contractor.

Some of the union workers protested that prospect during a rally outside New York’s Penn Station this week.

Transport Workers Union International President John Samuelsen said Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson is “engaged in a slash-and-burn management plan.”

The approximately 100 Amtrak workers also decried Amtrak’s replacement of full-service dining aboard the Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited with boxed meals, most of them served cold.

Amtrak acknowledged in a statement that it has cut 14 chef positions, but that all those affected who wanted another position with Amtrak were able to get one.

The Amtrak statement also contended that the change in meal service aboard the Lake Shore and Capitol has been well received by passengers.

Amtrak Workers Demand Meeting With Anderson

July 24, 2018

Members of Amtrak’s labor unions are demanding a meeting with CEO Richard Anderson to discuss changes being made at the carrier.

The workers are members of the Amtrak Service Workers Council, a coalition of unions representing Amtrak’s on board service employees who are unhappy about onboard service changes the carrier has made, in particular the ending of full-service dining on the Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited.

Some union members who are represented by Transport Workers Union of America, UNITE-HERE, and the Transportation Communications Union/International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, staged a protest rally recently at Amtrak headquarters in Washington.

The unions are planning similar protests in New York and Chicago.

Anderson briefly spoke to union officials on July 18 and what was said at that time in dispute.

The unions contend that Anderson told the workers to set up a meeting with other Amtrak executives.

But in a statement, Amtrak contends that Anderson intends to meet with the workers to discuss the railroad’s plans to “upgrade the quality of our food and create a more contemporary style of service on some of our long distance trains.”

The unions and Amtrak are also at odds as to the effect of the food service changes.

Amtrak contended in its statement that employees affected by the change have been able to find new positions within the company.

But union officials counter that in reality jobs have been lost and the Amtrak statement fails to present a full picture of how employees have been affected.

John Feltz, a vice president for the TWU, said one Amtrak chef who previously worked on the East Coast now has is working out of New Orleans and being forced to spend more time away from his family getting to and from his assignment.

“Anderson says that no one is going to lose their jobs but he’s 100 percent wrong about that,” Feltz says.

Starting on June 1, Amtrak replaced full-service dining with boxed meals in a program it billed as “contemporary and fresh dining choices” that cater to the needs of a new generation of travelers and improve efficiency and costs.

Union members are also angry about how Amtrak management gave its members little warning of the change.

Feltz says Amtrak told the union in mid-April that it was considering a change to on board service and it wanted to get the views of union members before it announced the changes.

But hours later Amtrak went ahead with its plan to replace hot meals with cold boxed-meals.

Union officials are concerned that ending traditional dining service on two East Coast long distance train is the first step in an effort to eliminate more amenities aboard Amtrak’s long-distance trains.

“They’re trying to run this railroad like an airline,” Feltz said in a reference to Anderson’s previous job as CEO of Delta Airlines.

Amtrak Unions Want Dining Cars Back

June 2, 2018

Labor unions representing Amtrak workers say changes in dining service aboard the Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited are threatening jobs and pensions as well as annoying passengers.

The unions want Amtrak to reinstate full dining-car service on the both trains, which serve northern Ohio.

The dining changes, which became effective on June 1, involve providing cold meals to sleeping car passengers.

Amtrak executives have characterized the cost-cutting changes as experimental and pledged to provide at least one hot entrée at a future time.

The executives told the Rail Passengers Association that Amtrak is studying making improvements system-wide food service improvements.

The Amtrak Service Workers Council, however, is not impressed.

“We pledge to do everything in our power to preserve these jobs and the unique Amtrak dining experience,” the council said in a statement.

The council said that seven chefs have been furloughed and given a little more than a week to make a major life decision, meaning moving to Chicago or Seattle in order to continue working for Amtrak.

Some of them have 30 years of service and live on the East Coast.

“Therefore, it is certain that closing dining cars on these routes will have immediate and ripple effects on Amtrak workers across the country, not only those employed on the Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited lines.

The union group also took aim at how Amtrak sought to frame the change, issuing a news release and making statements characterizng the changes as providing “fresh and contemporary” meal service.

The council said the new meal service is nothing more than a cold snack in a cardboard box being delivered to passengers in their rooms.

“Riders are paying close to $1,000 a ticket, only to be fed yogurt and sandwiches? We have been told by our members that passengers already are expressing their dissatisfaction with the upcoming service and meal plan changes,” the council said.

“Our members are on the frontlines, and they know that passengers view the current dining service as part of the experience of riding a train through the country along a long-distance route.”

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari declined to comment on the council’s statement other than to say the pre-packaged meals are not limited to the examples cited in the council’s statement.

Amtrak expects to save $3 million annual by eliminating full-service dining cars from the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited.

Signal Workers OK Pact With Amtrak

May 15, 2018

Members of the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen have ratified a new contract with Amtrak, which became effective May 3

The agreement covers nearly 700 members who work in the communications and signal departments.

In a news release, the BRS said the new pact calls for wage increases through 2021 and retroactive back pay, which is expected to be paid before July 1.

Each member’s monthly health-care contribution was slightly decreased and will remain frozen until changed in the next round of bargaining.

New benefits include a new-hire alternative health-care plan starting in 2019.

Unions Reach Pacts with Amtrak, INRD

May 1, 2018

Two railroad unions have announced agreements with two different railroads.

Members of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division have ratified a new contract with Amtrak, the union announced late last week.

The union said the pact settles wage, benefits and work rules that were in dispute since Jan. 2, 2015, ensuring that BMWED members will see wage increases, protection of health care and an increase in the number of weeks paid for military training time.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen said it has reached a tentative agreement with the Indiana Rail Road governing rates of pay, benefits and work rules for 54 operating employees.

Ratification ballots and a synopsis of the agreement have been mailed to active members with ballots due back on May 23.

The BLET’s INRD members belong to Division 204 and are a part of the BLET’s CSXT-Western Lines General Committee of Adjustment.

BLET Members OK New Contract With Amtrak

April 5, 2018

Members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen approved a new five-year contract with Amtrak that will provide general wage increases of 18.84 percent compounded over the life of the contract.

The agreement will expire on Dec. 31, 2021, but provides full retroactive pay dating to July 1, 2015.

In a news release, BLET said employee health care contributions are frozen at $228 per month over the five-year pact.

The union said that the contract preserves existing work rules and provides “much needed improvements” for employees entitled to paid time off for active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces.

BLET represents more than 1,400 locomotive engineers employed by Amtrak.

Amtrak, BRS Reach Tentative Contract Agreement

March 21, 2018

Amtrak and the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen have reached a tentative contract covering wages and fringe benefits.

BRS said in a news release that the pact calls for a wage increase through 2021, with an 18.8 percent compounded increase over the life of the agreement.

Also, the new contract calls for freezing the monthly health care contribution, with new benefits provided. It also establishes a new-hire alternative health care plan.

BRS members must vote to ratify the agreement before it goes into effect.

BMWE Reaches Contract with Railroads

March 8, 2018

The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees has reached a tentative agreement with the National Carriers Conference Committee, which represents the nation’s railroads.

The agreement must now be ratified by the union members. The BMWE has 27,500 members.

The contract establishes wages and work rules that are similar to those reached last year by two other unions, but on health care the BMWE and carriers agreed to binding arbitration.

More than 70 percent of the almost 145,000 unionized freight rail employees have now ratified agreements with the 30 freight railroads represented by the Conference Committee.

This includes the American Train Dispatchers Association (1,600 members); Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (27,200); Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (8,500); Brotherhood of Railway Carmen (11,100); the Transportation and Yardmaster divisions of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (44,000); National Conference of Firemen and Oilers (2,800); and Transportation Communications International Union (6,300).

Unions that continue to negotiate with the Conference Committee include the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (7,600 members); International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (6,400); and International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Blacksmiths, Iron Ship Builders, Forgers and Helpers.

Bargaining for new contracts began in January 2015. The federal Railway Labor Act requires that existing agreement provisions on wages, benefits and work rules remain in force until revised through collective bargaining, binding arbitration or congressional legislation.

The most recent contracts ratified by the unions will not be subject to renegotiation before Jan. 1, 2020.

A Railway Age analysis is that the new contracts will put almost $33,000 more into the pockets of the highest-paid workers by mid-2019, and more than $16,000 into the paychecks of those in the lower wage rungs. There are no work rules changes.

Employee monthly premiums for health care insurance are capped at $288 a month through mid-2020. The railroads will continue to pay about 90 percent of all employee healthcare costs.

Amtrak negotiates separately with about a dozen unions and it has reached new contracts with conductors and engineers that are retroactive to Jan. 1, 2015.

Those agreements increase wages by almost 19 percent through July 2021 and cap employee healthcare contributions.

Amtrak continues to negotiate with the BMWE and other labor organizations.

BLET, Amtrak Reach Tentative Pact

March 2, 2018

A union representing locomotive engineers has reached a tentative contract agreement with Amtrak.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen said the pact governs pay rates, benefits and work rules for about 1,400 engineers.

BLET has mailed its members ratification ballots and a synopsis of the agreement with voting to be completed by April 1.

The union represents more than 1,400 locomotive engineers who operate Amtrak passenger and commuter trains.