Posts Tagged ‘Railroad labor unions’

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 railroad 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 agreements 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.

W&LE Union Members Authorize Strike

July 1, 2017

Union members at the Wheeling & Erie Railway have authorized a strike if negotiations on a new contract break down.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen said it mailed strike ballots to more than 150 members, more than 75 of whom hold seniority as both locomotive engineers and trainmen.

BLET said that all ballots returned favored a strike if necessary, the union said in a news release.

The union represents locomotive engineer and trainman crafts at the W&LE and has been negotiating for a new contract since January 2012.

The union requested and received mediation and the two sides negotiated under the mediation for nearly five years.

BLET members rejected a tentative agreement last September. In May, BLET National President Dennis Pierce asked the mediator to declare an impasse and proffer arbitration as a possible prelude to being released from mediation.


BLET Members OK Pact with I&O

June 24, 2017

Members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen have approved a new contract with the Indiana & Ohio Railway.

The union said more than 80 percent of those voting favored ratifying the five-year pact, which covers wages, work rules, and health and welfare benefits for 50 engineers, conductors and trainees.

BLET said the contract calls for a pay hike of 28.6 percent over the life of the contract, which ends Dec. 31, 2020.

The contract also upgrades vacation leave with members receiving an additional vacation day when reaching five-, 10- and 15-year work anniversaries with the company.

Members will receive 10 paid holidays and five flex days. There is also language pertaining to holiday and jury duty pay, as well as bereavement leave.

In a news release, BLET said I&O members are part of the Genesee & Wyoming’s Midwest Region health and welfare plan. The agreement changes the membership’s 401k plan and provides a voucher for two pairs of boots per year.

The contract also outlines procedures for disciplinary hearings and specifies a grievance and arbitration process.

BLET, I&O Reach Tentative Agreement

May 16, 2017

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen has reached a tentative contract with the Indiana & Ohio Railway.

The agreement will be voted on by BLET members through June 12.

The contract would govern pay rates and work rules for 50 engineers, conductors and trainees.

The BLET organized the I&O in August 2001 with its employees belonging to BLET Division 282.

I&O is a 570-mile western Ohio short line owned by Genesee & Wyoming.

BLET Marks 154th Anniversary

May 10, 2017

A Cleveland-based railroad union marked its 154th anniversary this week. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen said in a news release that it is the oldest labor organization in the Western Hemisphere and was the first to sign a contract with a railroad.

The union was formed on May 8, 1863, in Marshall, Michigan. It merged in 2004 with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in 2004 to become the BLET.

Among its earliest contracts was an agreement with the New York Central in 1875. The union today has hundreds of contracts railroads.

CSX CEO Ward Says 1-Person Crews Inevitable

January 19, 2017

One-person operating crews are inevitable CSX CEO Michael Ward said this week during a conference call with financial analysts and investors.

Michael Ward

Michael Ward

Ward told his audience, “It’s just a question of when.” Driving the move toward one-person crews will be autonomous trucks and delivery vehicles.

“There’s going to be autonomous vehicles out there. There’s no question,” Ward said. “The only question is when and how much they will be deployed.”

The CSX head also said the completion of positive train control by 2020 will also pave the way toward one-person crews.

Getting labor unions to agree to one-person crews will be a challenge, Ward noted.

Supreme Court Declines to Hear W&LE Appeal

January 18, 2017

The Wheeling & Lake Erie has been rebuffed by the U.S. Supreme Court in its bid to have overturned  a federal appeals court decision that the use of managers in place of union conductors during a strike is a major dispute under the Railway Labor Act.

W&LE logo 2The conflict dates to September 2013 when the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen authorized a strike after the W&LE reportedly ignored a collective bargaining agreement that the union argues prohibited single-person operations.

The union argued that the Wheeling disregarded a longstanding crew consist agreement calling for the assignment of an engineer and a union conductor.

For its part, the Wheeling contended that the strike was illegal. It obtained an injunction from a federal district court ordering the BLET members to go back to work. That court described the disagreement as a minor one that should be submitted to arbitration.

However, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit reversed the lower court decision and remanded the case back to the district court with instructions to dismiss the W&LE’s complaint.

In a news release, BLET said the appeals court ruling meant that the railroad’s “claim that the trainmen agreement allowed it to man trains without union conductors is frivolous or obviously insubstantial, and the dispute is major.”

The full appeals court declined the Wheeling’s request to overturn the decision of the three-judge panel.

The Supreme Court said on Jan. 9 that it would not review the appellate court ruling.

In commenting on the legal wrangling, the BLET said the outcome means that if the W&LE wants to change work rules it must do so through collective bargaining.

Mediation Sought in Railroad Negotiations

December 11, 2016

Railroad labor unions are seeking mediation after they say that talks with five Class 1 railroads have broken down.

train image2The request to the National Mediation Board was made by the Rail Labor Coordinated Bargaining Group, which represents 85,000 workers.

The group has been meeting with the National Carriers’ Conference Committee, which represents BNSF, Union Pacific, Kansas City Southern, CSX and Norfolk Southern.

The negotiations have drug on for two years and focused on such issues as health care, compensation and workplace rules.

If the federal mediation board cannot help break the impasse or if they do and either side rejects their solution, a 30-day cooling off period is enacted before any strike or lockout could occur.

In a statement, the unions said the railroads are seeking to take advantage of the current political climate.

A spokesperson for railroads said that they welcome the intervention of federal mediators in helping the two sides find common ground.

The negotiations were instituted by the railroads in November 2014. The unions involved as the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers.

The railroads are seeking to connect wages to performance, reexamine healthcare coverage and costs, and modify work rules that the carriers claim interfere with or inhibit their ability to provide customers with timely, high quality and cost-effective service.