Posts Tagged ‘labor unions’

Union Leaders Skeptical of Foote’s Comments

May 19, 2022

Although labor unions representing CSX appreciate some of the moves the carrier has made in recent months to improve management-employer relations, they are taking with a grain of salt recent comments made by CEO James Foote about his desire to improve the working relationship.

Trains magazine said the labor leaders it interviewed described the relationship with management as the worst it has been in decades. They were speaking about railroads generally and not CSX in particular.

Foote has spoken about the need to improve relations with workers in recent weeks and last week during a speech to the North American Rail Shippers conference he said creating better rapport with workers would be the biggest transformative change the industry could make.

Dennis Pierce, president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, said he was “flabbergasted” by Foote’s comments because CSX has not met with the union since January and no contract negotiations are currently scheduled.

“He’s got the tools to fix it and he’s never used them. So we’re not sure what he’s talking about,” Pierce said.

In the eyes of union leaders Foote has been sending mixed messages. During a late April hearing by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board into freight service issues, Foote said the railroad’s crew shortage problems would disappear overnight if it could use one-person crews.

According to the Trains report, labor leaders see massive layoffs and operational changes prompted by the move to the precision scheduled railroading model as a major source of tension.

Other sources of conflict include what labor sees as punitive attendance policies, stalled contract negotiations, and no pay increases since 2019.

Unions see the desire of railroads to have one-person crews as a major reason why contract talks have stalemated.

Railroad industry management has not hidden its desire to reassign most conducts to ground-based roving positions in set territories. Conductors would be responsible for multiple trains within their territories and follow them in trucks or SUVs.

Union leaders acknowledge that CSX has taken some steps toward improving its relations with labor.

It has begun offering attendance bonuses to workers to stay marked up, has softened some discipline policies and boosted pay for new conductors.

Trains quoted industry observer Todd Tranausky as saying labor relations in the railroad industry are strained.

“But there is always tension between labor and management in any industry when large changes driven by automation are on the horizon, so it should not come as a surprise,” said Tranausky, vice president of rail and intermodal at freight forecasting firm FTR Transportation Intelligence.

The article can be read at https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews/news-wire/labor-leaders-skeptical-of-ceo-talk-of-improving-railroads-relationship-with-rank-and-file/

CSX to Increase Pay for Union Workers

April 21, 2022

CSX said it has reached a tentative pact with the SMART Transportation Division to provide advance payments to union members on future wage increases expected in national contract negotiations.

Those negotiations are between the National Carrier’s Conference, which represents railroad management, and the various unions representing railroad workers.

Those talks are currently in mediation. The talks began in November 2019 and typically take years to conclude.

In a statement, CSX CEO James Foote said his company’s workers have gone without a pay increase for a long time but continued to come to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of the advance payment agreement, CSX also said it would provide identical payments to all unionized employees.

Unionized workers will receive payments of up to $600 from May through the end of the year, or until a negotiated wage settlement is reached, whichever is earlier.

The advance payments would be deducted from any retroactive or future pay increases that may be agreed upon at national bargaining, CSX officials said.

Labor Requests Mediation in Contract Talks

January 26, 2022

The umbrella group that represents most railroad labor unions has formally asked the National Mediation Board to help move along stalled negotiations for a new contract.

The Coordinated Bargaining Coalition said on Monday that it expects a mediator appointed by the NMB will help the parties to refocus the issues in the negotiations.

The coalition has been bargaining with the National Carriers Conference Committee, which represents most Class 1 railroads and several other smaller ones in national contract talks.

The two sides began meeting in 2020 last week the union coalition said the talks had reached an impasse.

For its part the NCCC said it welcomes the assistance of a mediator.

Under the federal Railway Labor Act, railroad labor contracts do not expire and the law sets out a series of steps unions and railroads must take before engaging in such self-help actions as a strike or lockout.

Strike Against Akron Metro Averted Again

November 14, 2021

A strike by Akron Metro Regional Transit Authority workers on Monday has been postponed.

Members of The Transport Workers Union of America Local 1 had been prepared to walk off the job after failing to reach a new contract agreement.

However, the national leadership of the union called off the strike and placed Local 1 into temporary receivership.

A statement released by the union said Local 1 had not given “appropriate notice required to authorize a strike.”

The national office of the union has sent representatives to Akron to investigate the local and to take over the contract negotiations.

Members of Local 1 have been working without a contract since July 31, 2020.

“Many of our members here in Summit County reached out to the international union concerned that the local union’s president is no longer employed by METRO,” said Willie Brown, director of the national union’s transit division. “The strike authorization vote was administered improperly, and adequate notice was not provided to the international union in violation of the TWU constitution.”

Brown said a strike may be necessary late but there may be other options as well.

Union members had been prepared to strike or begin picketing on Nov. 4. The union later set a strike date of Nov. 15.

Akron Metro Facing Bus Driver Strike

November 4, 2021

Akron Metro RTA bus drivers may walk off the job Nov. 15 after failing to reach a new contract agreement.

The drivers had threatened to strike Nov. 4 if they did not reach a new agreement. However, the public transit agency said Wednesday evening it had been assured by Transport Workers Union Local 1 that there would be no strike or picketing on Thursday.

Contract talks between the two sides have drug on for more than a year.

Metro said has offered the union what it termed a final proposal and asked for a vote on the pact by union members.

Major issues in the negotiations include wages, health insurance and other issues.

TWU represents 71 percent of Metro employees including 239 bus drivers, 17 vehicle service employees, four vehicle detailers and 12 customer care representatives.

Metro has 378 employees including 32 mechanics who are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 348.

Members of the TWU approved a strike authorization vote on Sept. 11, which gave union leaders authority to call a strike if they decide one is necessary.

Metro’s fleet included 231 vehicles – 140 large buses and 91 paratransit vehicles – that serve 29 local routes and other services.

BLET Marks Anniversary of Founding

May 8, 2021

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen will mark its 158th anniversary today.

The union was founded as the Brotherhood of the Footboard on May 8, 1863, in Marshall, Michigan.

It became the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers in 1864 and merged with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters on Jan. 1, 2004, when it became BLET. 

It is the oldest labor union in the Western Hemisphere.

In a news release, BLET officials said the union emerged after locomotive engineers on the Michigan Central became discouraged with pay cuts and the arbitrary dismissal of their firemen. BLET was the first labor organization to obtain contracts with railroads, including the NYC in 1875.

Today, the BLET has hundreds of contracts with railroads and represents locomotive engineers on 98 percent of rail trackage in the United States.

Unions Press Biden on Mediation Board Appointments

January 28, 2021

Labor unions in the railroad and aviation industries are seeking to prod President Joseph Biden on appointments to the National Mediation Board.

The 19 unions are seeking to have Deirdre Hamilton appointed to the Board and for sitting member Linda Puchala’s term to be extended.

The Board was created by the Railway Labor Act and the letter from the unions noted it “plays an essential role” in labor-management relations. 

“These workers are best served when the NMB is reliably staffed with public servants who understand the importance of collective bargaining and who, when disputes arise, will seek fair and timely solutions,” the letter said.

Hamilton for the past six years has been the staff attorney to the airline division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

She has represented workers before federal courts and with the NMB on a wide range of legal issues for the past 20 years.

Puchala has served as an NMB board member since 2009. Before that she was a mediator, senior mediator and the associate director of alternative dispute resolution services over a 10-year career at the NMB.

BLET Workers OK Contract With Susie Q

December 4, 2020

Union workers at the New York, Susqhehanna & Western have ratified a new five-year contract.

The pact governs wages, benefits and work rules for 45 members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.

It also includes retroactive pay and general wage increases each year through Jan. 1, 2024, BLET said in a news release.

The contract provides for increased certification pay for locomotive engineers and additional paid time off for all members.

BLET members who have been employed for 25 years or more will receive a sixth week of vacation.

Based in Cooperstown, New York, the NYS&W operates over 400 miles of track in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Retired BLET Lawyer Dies

December 2, 2020

A retired executive of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen has died.

Harold Ross, 89, was the union’s general counsel between 1967 and 2011.

A news release issued by the union, said Ross argued and won two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court: Landers v. Amtrak and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers in 1988, and Interstate Commerce Commission v. Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers in 1987.

Ross was named an honorary member of BLET in 2004, which union officials said it a rare honor bestowed on fewer than 20 people in the organization’s 157-year history.

After joing BLET as a grand chief engineer in 1958, Ross provided legal counsel to 15 BLET presidents.

He is survived by three children. His son, Greg Ross, is the BLET National Division’s director of communications, director of legal affairs and assistant to the office administrator.

Labor Executive Willis Dies

December 1, 2020

A railroad labor union executive has died of injuries that he suffered in a biking accident.

Larry Willis

Larry Willis, 53, was president of the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, a position he has held since 2017.

In announcing his death the union noted that Willis had previously served as TTD’s secretary treasurer, general counsel and legislative representative.

He also once worked as an associate and director of legislation for Weil, Gotshal and Manges, and served in various legislative roles on Capitol Hill and in political campaigns.

In his role as TTD president, Willis oversaw the union’s daily operation and served as its spokesperson and chief strategist.

Willis is survived by his wife Amy and daughter Samantha.