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BLET members ratify new contract with Indiana Southern

CLEVELAND, August 19 — By an overwhelming majority, members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) ratified a new collective bargaining agreement with the Indiana Southern Railroad (ISRR) on June 30, 2015.

The six-year deal governs rates of pay, work rules, and health and welfare benefits for approximately 26 locomotive engineers and conductors at the short line railroad. The agreement provides for retroactive pay to January 1, 2014, and runs through January 1, 2020. It was ratified by a 95 percent majority of workers who returned ballots.

The BLET’s ISRR membership belongs to Division 270 located in Washington, Ind., which is a part of the CP Rail-U.S. General Committee of Adjustment (GCA). The negotiating team consisted of National Vice President Cole Davis, CP Rail-U.S. General Chairman Pete Semenek, Division 270 Local Chairman Terry Braun, and Division 270 Vice Local Chairman Cord Quakenbush.

General Chairman Semenek said the negotiating and ratification process lasted approximately 16 months. There are several key improvements in the new contract. The BLET was able to secure a new safety incentive bonus program in the contract. Brother Semenek said this was a significant gain because the railroad was able to arbitrarily suspend a similar bonus program in the past. Additionally, the members now have their health and welfare benefit plan outlined and protected by the new agreement. The contract also provides members with an increased personal protection allowance, which provides reimbursements for work-related safety purchases such as work boots and prescription safety glasses. Brother Semenek said the new deal also provides general wage increases of 21.7 percent compounded over the life of the contract when factoring in retroactive pay and future general wage increases.

BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce recognized and thanked the negotiating team for a job well done.

“Brothers Davis, Semenek, Braun and Quakenbush deserve our thanks for their hard work and determination throughout the negotiating process,” President Pierce said. “I am particularly pleased at the high percentage of voter turnout and the overwhelming ratification of the contract. As I have said in the past, union membership is not a spectator sport, and if you want a strong union, then it’s up to you to get into the game. This contract will help our Indiana Southern members enjoy a better quality of life while affording them the protections that come from a strong union contract.”

The BLET first organized the ISRR in September of 2002. A Genesee & Wyoming property, the ISRR operates 196 miles of track between Indianapolis and Evansville, Ind. It handles primarily coal and agricultural commodities.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

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