Posts Tagged ‘Railroad labor unions’

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 Want FRA to Consider Safety First

May 12, 2018

Five railroad labor unions this week wrote to the Federal Railroad Administration to urge it to emphasize safety as it considers rules pertaining to automation technology in the railroad industry.

The FRA is taking public comments about the future of rail automation and the unions said the agency’s questions about automation reflect a “very positive view of something that has not been proven to be effective in terms of safety or efficiency.”

The unions want the FRA to consider “essential job functions performed by humans that cannot be replaced by automation” as well as what they termed the “ever-present threat of hostile actors looking to inflict mayhem on our nation’s railroads.”

The letter was signed by the heads of the American Train Dispatchers Association, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen Division TCU/IAM and SMART Transportation Division.

BLET Marks 155th Anniversary

May 10, 2018

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen observed its 155th anniversary this week.

The Union, which claims to the oldest labor union in the Western Hemisphere, was founded on May 8, 1863, in Marshall, Michigan, as the Brotherhood of the Footboard.

It became the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers a year later and kept that name until merging with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters on Jan. 1, 2004.

The impetus for the formation of the union was locomotive engineers for the Michigan Central becoming discouraged with pay cuts and the dismissal of their firemen.

BLET was the first labor organization to negotiate contracts with railroads, including one with the New York Central in 1875.

The BLET also was a pioneer in the field of labor journalism, starting a monthly journal in 1867.

It launched a website in 1996 and today publishes a quarterly magazine and monthly newsletter.

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.

Union Leader Calls NS Lawsuit ‘Crazy’

April 13, 2018

A union leader has described as “crazy” a lawsuit filed last week by Norfolk Southern in a federal court against two of its employees who were involved in a head-on collision of two NS trains in Kentucky last March.

NS sued the engineer and conductor of one of the trains, saying they had been negligent in not reducing the train’s speed after passing an approach signal indication and failing to take steps to safety operate the train to avoid the collision.

John Risch, national legislative director for the SMART Transportation Division, doubts NS will win the case but if it did that would establish a dangerous precedent.

Risch said that in past years a crew that failed to stop a train at a stop indication would probably just lose their jobs.

However, he said a railroad suing an employee for a mistake has occurred before, but he is unaware of any of those cases being won by the railroad.

“It’s outrageous behavior by Norfolk Southern,” Risch told Trains magazine. “They’re going to have to start paying railroaders $1 million or $2 million annually so they can pay for when their employer sues them.”

Risch also believes the NS lawsuit is part of a deteriorating relationship between management and labor in recent years.

“I want an environment where railroaders are not living in fear of losing their jobs or worst getting sued and being forced into bankruptcy,” he said.

Dennis R. Pierce, president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, said earlier this year that railroads and others have been increasingly looking to take legal action against railroad crew members involved in major accidents.

“In the wake of recent dramatic and highly visible railroad accidents in the United States and Canada, there has been a trend to criminalize railroad workers and prosecute them as the sole cause of these tragedies,” Pierce said at the time.

Trains quoted one of its correspondents, Mike Blaszak, an attorney who specializes in railroad legal issues, as saying that lawsuits against railroad employees are rare.

“The reasons you don’t see such suits very often are that employees generally do not have sufficient assets to offset the cost of the suit, they can declare bankruptcy to avoid any judgment, and such suits can have a devastating impact on the morale of the employer’s other employees,” Blaszak said.

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.

2 More Railroad Unions Ratify Contract

January 25, 2018

A new contract between the nation’s major freight railroads and members of the Transportation Communications International Union and the Brotherhood Railway Carmen  unions has been ratified.

The new agreement covers more than 17,000 employees.

“I am pleased that more than 70 percent of our employees have now ratified the national settlement terms and even more, that they are approving them by overwhelming margins,” said A. Kenneth Gradia, Chairman of the National Carriers’ Conference Committee, which represented the railroads in the contract talks.

Unions representing 84,000 employees have ratified their agreements with the railroads. These include:

  • American Train Dispatchers Association
  • Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen
  • Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen International
  • Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers ─ Transportation Division including Yardmasters
  • National Conference of Firemen and Oilers

Ratification voting on the railroads’ agreements with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is underway.

The NCCC represents more than 30 railroads, including BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific, in national bargaining with the 12 rail unions. Bargaining began in 2015.

Another Union Ratifies New Contract

December 16, 2017

Members of the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers have ratified a new contract with the nation’s freight railroads.

The contract will applies to union members employed by BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern, Kansas City Southern, Union Pacific and numerous smaller carriers represented by the National Carriers’ Conference Committee.

“This round of bargaining, just like what is taking place in Washington, was totally unpredictable,” NCFO President John Thacker said in a statement. “We went from a possible tentative agreement, prior to the 2016 Presidential Election, to a stalemate after the election, to an agreement in the final days of bargaining. I would like to thank our partners from the Coordinated Bargaining Group for their solidarity with the members of the NCFO.”