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Members ratify first-ever union contract with WNYP

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, July 3 — In late May, members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) achieved a significant milestone with the ratification of their first-ever union contract with the Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad. It was ratified by an overwhelming majority of those casting a ballot.

The four-year agreement governs about a dozen members and runs through December 31, 2021. The agreement establishes hourly wage rates, overtime pay, a seniority roster, the concept of a basic day, and health and welfare benefits. It provides due process protections for members — perhaps one of the most important benefit in any union contract — that defines the process for protection of employees when disciplinary charges are levied regarding an alleged rule violation.

Prior to ratification of the contract, there were three rates of pay for locomotive engineers and three rates of pay for conductors. The new BLET agreement transitions wage scales to a single locomotive engineer hourly rate and a single conductor hourly rate by 2021. Over the term of the agreement, wage increases will range from 15.91% to 28.44% for locomotive engineers and from 15.91% to 33.75% for conductors; each being dependent upon what the pre-BLET rate for an individual worker had been. The contract provides nine paid holidays and workers are paid an additional eight hours for working on those holidays. It also covers paid time off/sick leave, jury duty leave, and bereavement leave.

The new contract stipulates several items that must be provided to employees, such as suitable drinking water, ice, front/rear window defrosters, heaters, and window awnings for switching service.

The WNYP membership belongs to BLET Division 421 in Buffalo, N.Y.

BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce thanked National Vice President Rick Gibbons for helping to bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion. President Pierce also thanked National Vice President Jim Louis and Division 421 (Buffalo, N.Y.) President Greg Lund for their assistance during the ratification process. He also recognized New York, Susquehanna & Western General Chairman Ben Martin for his efforts during the initial drive to organize the WNYP workers and during the early stages of negotiations.

“I am proud to officially welcome our Western New York & Pennsylvania members into our Brotherhood,” President Pierce said. “I also thank our new WNYP members for their patience during the negotiating process and for their active participation in the ratification process.”

The WNYP main line extends for 190 miles from Hornell, on New York’s southern tier to Meadville in northwestern Pennsylvania. A branch 90 miles long extends from Machias, N.Y. to North Driftwood, Pa., cresting the Allegany Mountains at Keating Summit. Interchange is made with Norfolk Southern at Hornell, Meadville and North Driftwood, and with Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad at Salamanca, N.Y. and Corry, Pa. Interchange is also conducted with Oil Creek & Titusville Line (OCTL) at Rouseville, Pa. WNYP began independent operations in 2001 after concluding a long-term lease with Norfolk Southern and obtaining certain property tax abatements granted by Southern Tier Extension Rail Authority (STERA). WNYP is controlled by Livonia, Avon & Lakeville Railroad Corp. of Lakeville, N.Y.

Monday, July 03, 2017
bentley@ble-t.org

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