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CSX Northern Lines members urged to vote YES on Tentative National Agreement

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, November 21 — The following is a statement from CSX Northern Lines General Chairman Bill Lyons encouraging his members to vote in favor of the Tentative National Agreement.

# # #

We have all heard the old idiom “You can’t understand how I got here unless you take the time to walk a mile in my shoes.” This saying is so true and applies to many circumstances in life, especially the presentation of our proposed National Agreement to the membership for ratification.

I was one of the General Chairmen assigned to the BLET National Bargaining team, representing the Eastern General Chairmen’s Association. I attended almost every meeting between the CBG and the NCCC and here is what I saw. I watched with pride the unwavering solidarity of the Unions in the CBG, even in the face of efforts by the NCCC to divide them.

I also saw firsthand the immediate change in the Carriers’ attitude following the election results in November of 2016, which completely changed the tone of our negotiations. I was an eyewitness to the twists and turns of these negotiations, and if you have not watched President Pierce’s Town Hall video, I urge you to do so before you cast your ballot to help you understand how we got where we are and be clearly aware of our options going forward. Brother Pierce’s video can be found at this link. https://youtu.be/tUxI30CWwT8 .

As a participant in these negotiations I can assure you that nothing was left on the table in reaching this proposed agreement. I encourage you to vote yes for several reasons. The proposed agreement caps your monthly health and welfare contributions at the current level until the next contract is ratified. As we all know, the price of healthcare in this country is only going to rise. Eliminating the 15% monthly contribution from the last agreement and locking in this rate insures that the Carrier must absorb all cost increases to the plan for the duration of this agreement.

Additionally, the gains realized through guaranteed back pay and GWI increases more than outweigh any escalation to your out of pocket medical expenses and the cost of living. The addition of Telemedicine, expanded Centers of Excellence coverage, second opinion services and the Carrier assuming responsibility for the Cadillac Tax, should it be enacted in 2020, further enhance the value of this agreement for our members.

Some of you may have seen the rhetoric on the property from another labor group. I ask you to really think about what they are trying to do. The CBG negotiated an AGREEMENT. The other group has not negotiated ANYTHING. What they’re trumpeting is a PROPOSAL that has been REJECTED by every other union but one.

And why? Because the savings that are claimed all assume that doctors and hospitals are going to take less money to perform the same services. That proposal is not backed by a single contract or even a single bid. The “network roulette” their proposal is based on also could force you to choose between keeping your current physicians and paying out-of-network fees … talk about a 357 to your head! That other union has the right to negotiate whatever it can obtain for its members, but not at the cost of our members’ quality health care and work rules.

The Tentative Agreement before you has real value to you and your family. Those who suggest that more can be gotten at a Presidential Emergency Board or by allowing Congress to write your contract either are ignorant of the history or are simply hoping you’ll fall for their big lie. Just ask anyone who has been around for the past 30+ years.

If you have already cast your ballot, I thank you. And I urge those of you who have not made your voice heard to vote in favor of the proposed agreement so we can close this round of bargaining with the best possible result available in our current political environment.

W. P. Lyons
BLET General Chairman
CSX Northern Lines GCA

Tuesday, November 21, 2017
bentley@ble-t.org

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