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Rail carriers cut-off negotiations

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- On December 14, the National Carriers' Conference Committee (NCCC) refused to set new dates for bargaining with the Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition (RLBC). The RLBC represents seven rail labor unions whose contracts cover nearly 85,000 rail workers or 65 percent of the carriers' employees. The NCCC represents the Class One carriers (Union Pacific, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Norfolk Southern, CSX, etc.) that transport most the rail freight in the country.

"The NCCC's refusal is mystifying," said Freddie Simpson, President of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED), "It is premature to refuse to bargain over the serious items both sides have placed on the table. What this round of negotiations needs is patience, hard work and willingness on both sides to listen and respond meaningfully to the other's issues. We have scarcely begun this process when suddenly the carriers up and walk away from the table."

"The seven member unions of the RLBC are united in their desire to reach an agreement voluntarily," said Dan Pickett, President of the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS). "We are willing to sit at the table and talk to the carriers for as long as it takes to get an agreement done. You must fulfill the intent of the process-proposing your own substantive proposals and responding to theirs."

"The carriers are attempting to distort the bargaining process by manipulating and misconstruing the procedure under the Railway Labor Act to obtain a government imposed resolution," said Don Hahs, President of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET). "The Act is designed to resolve remaining disputes when good faith bargaining has reached impasse. We are far from reaching that point because the carriers have not yet begun to negotiate in good faith to resolve any of the parties' issues."

"What is shocking about the NCCC's refusal to continue negotiations is that it comes at a time of record profits for the rail carriers," said John Murphy, Director or the Rail Conference and Teamsters International Vice President. "Yet their intractable, non-negotiable demands would change the nature of all railroad crafts through an ill-conceived consolidation and elimination of jobs. One would think the carriers' level of profits would provide them with some flexibility -- at least the flexibility to stay at the table."

The seven unions of the Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition (RLBC) are:

  • Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), a division of the Teamsters Rail Conference;
  • Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED), a division of the Teamsters Rail Conference;
  • American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA);
  • National Conference of Firemen and Oilers (SEIU);
  • International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers (IBB);
  • Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA); and
  • Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS).

    Thursday, December 15, 2005

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