Division 269 members Ok new contract with LIRR

Members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division 269 ratified a new contract agreement with the Long Island Rail Road on January 14.

According to LIRR General Chairman Mickey Quinn, the contract will cover approximately 420 locomotive engineers and was ratified by a 4-to-1 majority.

Quinn said the contract was negotiated as part of a coalition of 10 different unions representing each craft at LIRR. As a result, the new deal only addresses pay, health and welfare, and pensions. Following ratification, each union will commence one-on-one negotiations with LIRR regarding craft-specific work rules.

Term of the contract is three years, five months and two weeks. It expires on June 15, 2010, and provides wage increases of 10.5 percent over the life of the agreement. The wage increases are as follows: a 4 percent increase on Jan. 1, 2007; a 3.5 percent increase on Jan. 1, 2008; and a 3 percent increase on Jan 1, 2009.

"The new contract is a just reward for the hard working and professional LIRR engineers," General Chairman Quinn said.

He noted that on January 7, the LIRR reported that its on-time performance was 94.07 percent, which is the highest the railroad has ever achieved since modern record keeping started in 1979.

"There is no doubt that the excellent on-time performance was achieved in part due to the work of highly trained and skilled BLET members," he said.

LIRR trains operated by BLET members transport approximately 288,000 passengers per day.

In terms of health and welfare, the BLET was able to maintain a 100 percent carrier-paid medical plan.

"In this day and age of soaring medical costs, it is a tremendous benefit to our members to provide zero-cost medical care," General Chairman Quinn said.

The BLET also achieved improvements in dental and vision plans. In both cases, the carrier is increasing each benefit by 10 percent.

General Chairman Quinn said the BLET is proud of its membership pension plan at the LIRR. In the current contract, the BLET maintains a provision that allows members to retire at age 55 with 30 years of service with no reduction in their pension. Under the new agreement, there is a provision that provides members the opportunity to retire at age 60 (with less than 30 years of service) with no reduction in their pension.

Members participating in the pre-1988 plan are not affected under the new contract. Those hired after 1988 contribute 3 percent of their pay to the pension fund for 10 years, which is also a holdover from the original agreement. The new contract affects those hired after the new ratification date, who will contribute 4 percent of their pay to the pension fund for 10 years.

With more than 430 members, Division 269 is the single largest division in the BLET. The Long Island Rail Road is the busiest commuter railroad in North America, carrying an average of 288,000 customers each weekday on 728 daily trains. Chartered on April 24, 1834, it is also the oldest railroad still operating under its original name. A subsidiary of New York State's Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the LIRR marked its 170th Anniversary in 2004.

The LIRR system is comprised of over 700 miles of track on 11 different branches, stretching from Montauk, on the eastern tip of Long Island, to the refurbished Penn Station in Manhattan, approximately 120 miles away. Along the way, the LIRR serves 124 stations in Nassau, Suffolk, Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan, providing service for some 82 million customers each year.



© 2008 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen