Posts Tagged ‘Railroad labor unions’

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.”

Tentative Contract Reached with 5 Unions

December 12, 2017

The National Railway Labor Conference has reached a tentative contract agreement with five railroads labor unions.

The pact, which covers wages, benefits and other issues for more than 31,000 employees, now must be approved by union members.

The unions involved include the Brotherhood Railway Carmen, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Transportation Communications Union and the Transport Workers Union.

The latter union represents a limited number of employees in this bargaining. Terms of the contract were not announced.

The Conference represents 30 railroads, including five of the Class 1 railroads operating in the United States. Contract talks between the unions and the Conference began in 2015.

In a news release, the Conference said it now has reached new contract agreements with unions representing 116,000 employees, or 80 percent percent of the 145,000 employees in this bargaining round.

The agreement has already been ratified by union members of the American Train Dispatchers Association; Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen; Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, and International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers ─ Transportation Division including Yardmasters.

Talks continue with a coalition representing the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees, and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers.

SMART Members OK Rail Pact

December 5, 2017

Members of a fourth railroad labor union have voted to ratify a new national contract with U.S. freight railroads.

The Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers approved the contract, which was negotiated by the Coordinated Bargaining Group with the National Carriers’ Conference Committee.

The contract covers SMART members working at BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern, Kansas City Southern, Union Pacific and numerous smaller carriers, union officials said in a news release.

BLET Members OK New Contract

December 2, 2017

Members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen have voted to ratify a new contract with the nation’s freight railroads.

BLET is the third union among the six represented by the Coordinated Bargaining Group to agree to the five-year pact, which covers pay rates, health and welfare, and other fringe benefits for 25,000 BLET members.

In a news release, BLET said that 88 percent of those voting favored the contract, which covers locomotive engineers who work for the Belt Railway of Chicago, BNSF, Conrail, CSX, Indiana Harbor Belt, Kansas City Southern, Longview Switching, Norfolk Southern, Portland Terminal, Soo Line, Union Railroad, Union Pacific Railroad and the Winston-Salem Southbound Railway.

The contract also covers train service employees on the Texas Mexican Railway.

“BLET members benefited from the solidarity shown by the CBG, and my hope is that these unions will continue to work together going forward,” said BLET National President Dennis Pierce in a statement.

Railroads Reach Pact with 6 Rail Unions

October 7, 2017

A tentative agreement on a new five-year contract has been reached between the nation’s railroads and six labor unions.

The unions said the pact will be sent to the members of each union for ratification.

In a news release, the unions said the agreement calls for an immediate wage increase of 4 percent, with an additional 2.5 percent six months later on July 1, 2018, and an additional 3 percent one year later on July 1, 2019.

Retroactive wage increases of 2 percent effective July 1, 2016, and another 2 percent effective July 1, 2017, will be paid for a compounded increase of 9.84 percent over an 18-month period and 13.14 percent over the 5-year contract term.

The news release said this includes the first general wage increase of 3 percent implemented on Jan. 1, 2015.

All benefits existing under the health and welfare plan will remain in effect unchanged and there are no disruptions to the existing healthcare networks.

However, some employee participation costs will increase. The agreement also adds several new benefits to the health and welfare plan for union members.

The unions said in the news release that railroads will, on average, continue to pay 90 percent of all union members’ point of service costs.
The employees’ monthly premium contribution is frozen at the current rate of $228.89, which can only be increased by mutual agreement at the conclusion of negotiations in the next round of bargaining that begins on Jan. 1, 2020.
The unions contended that they refused the demands of the railroads for work rule changes that the unions said would have imposed “significant negative impacts.”

Rail unions agreeing to the contract are the American Train Dispatchers Association; the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (a Division of the Rail Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters); the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen; the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers, and Helpers; the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers / SEIU; and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers.

CSX Union Hits Back at Harrison Obstruction Allegations

August 8, 2017

A CSX labor union has taken issue with assertions by the railroad’s CEO E. Hunter Harrison that some CSX workers are the reason for service issues.

In a letter to CSX shippers, Harrison contended that some CSX employees were resisting the changes that management has made in operations and that this was resulting in service disruptions.

Railway Age magazine reported Monday that it obtained a copy of a letter sent to Harrison last week by the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, which represents some CSX operating employees.

The letter was signed by SMART’s five co-chairmen and said that the union “ . . . refuses to accept responsibility for disruptions that negatively affect the customers when we have no input on operational changes. We receive minimal, and in most cases, no communication from any department about the significant changes being implemented almost daily.”

The letter said that Harrison has ignored the union’s repeated requests to be involved in planning changes and that it viewed the CEO’s charges as “a personal attack,” “a kick to the gut,” and “a severe blow to [employees’] morale.”

SMART criticized CSX for what the union termed “harsh treatment, furloughs and repeated violations of their collective bargaining agreement.”

In denying Harrison’s allegations that union members had intentionally disrupted operations, the SMART letter said, “This organization will not allow our members to serve as an excuse for management’s inability to communicate and execute your ‘precision scheduled railroading.”

The magazine reported in late July that CSX had changed work hours from four 10-hour days to five eight-hour days in an effort to reduce train delays.

However, that has made it more difficult for employees working far from home to get to work and back in a reasonable length of time.

CSX Wants Engineers to Agree to Hourly Wages

August 1, 2017

CSX wants to pay its locomotive engineers by the hour rather than by the mile and has entered negotiations seeking to achieve that objective.

The railroad told the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen of that desire on July 19. No timeline has been set for implementing the change or starting negotiations.

BLET expected CSX to push for hourly wages because its CEO, E. Hunter Harrison, was able to negotiate those at other railroads that he oversaw.

The union has therefore been studying the agreements those railroads had with their engineers.

“We believe we are close to having an opening offer based on what was acceptable to the other railroads,” BLET executive Bill Lyons wrote in a message to union members. “Of course, the carrier may have an offer in mind that is nowhere near our position. We also believe the carrier will push to get an agreement in a very rapid fashion.”

Lyons, who is general chairman of BLET’s CSX Northern Lines General Committee of Adjustment, described the hourly wage as a purchase of work rules. “We have fought for over 150 years for many of the work protections we have today and the hourly price has to be right if we are to negotiate them away.”

While Harrison was CEO at Canadian Pacific the company reached an agreement in 2015 for hourly wages for engineers on the former Soo Line and Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern territories.

The contract stipulated that engineers would be paid for a 10-hour day and be eligible for overtime and holiday pay.

The work environment shifted to scheduled work days with two scheduled days off in every seven- or eight-day work cycle.

Most engineers have been able to earn 20 to 30 percent more than under the previous mileage-based system.

For its part, CP was able to eliminate certain work rules, resulting in more crew flexibility and productivity.

One change included allowing engineers of through freights to do yard and hostler work, which meant CP was able to cut costs by making do with fewer engineers.

CP also believed that the new work environment made it easier to recruit and retain engineers due to quality-of-life improvements.