Unions form historic bargaining coalition

On January 3, for the first time in two decades, seven major railroad unions have joined together in the creation of the "Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition" to coordinate upcoming contract negotiations with the rail carriers. The seven unions of the coalition represent nearly 85,000 rail workers from American railroad corporations. The Coalition will develop a coordinated contract negotiating strategy and each individual union will not sign off on any tentative agreements with the rail carriers until all the coalition members concur.

"With serving of notice to the rail carriers to commence contract negotiations, this Coalition has completed a first successful step toward developing a unified bargaining strategy," said George Francisco, coordinator of the Coalition and President of the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers (SEIU). "For the first time in decades, rail unions are joining together to make sure our members get a fair contract. This year at the negotiating table, the rail carriers will face a very different atmosphere. This year the rail unions are united in purpose."

"This Coalition is the reason the BLE and the BMWE merged with the Teamsters under the banner of the Teamsters Rail Conference," said John Murphy, an IBT International Vice President and Special Assistant to President Hoffa for the Teamsters Rail Conference. "Even though these unions work in a variety of crafts, they are united in their demands for job security, better wages and safer working conditions."

BLET National President Don Hahs said that by presenting a unified front at the bargaining table, "members of the Rail Coalition have taken an important step in combating rail management's divide and conquer bargaining strategy."

That strategy features the coercion of individual unions into divisive contract settlements, which then are said to form a "pattern" of substandard agreements that, in turn, are forced on other organizations through over-long mediation, Emergency Board proceedings or legislation. A united union movement will restore balance to contract negotiations.

"It would be unfortunate for any rail union leader to not be a part of this coalition," said Freddie N. Simpson, President of the BMWED. "This coalition will prevent the Carriers from whipsawing unions, large and small alike, and will strengthen all of rail labor at negotiations."

The Coalition comprises the following railroad unions:



© 2005 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen