'Whopping' 91 percent ratifies new Grand Trunk Western agreement

By a landslide 91 percent majority, BLET members represented by the Grand Trunk Western General Committee of Adjustment approved a new five year contract with CN on January 15.

The agreement includes a 16 percent wage increase, an increase in the away from home meal allowance to $10, full retroactive pay from July 1, 2005, a $1,000 bonus /claim settlement payable to all active engineers, 26 additional days off for the extra board without deduction in pay, and a "step-up bonus payment" applied directly to the Engineer's Guaranteed Extra Board (GEB) that, when coupled with the 16 percent wage increase, amounts to about a 22.1 percent wage increase for the weekly guarantee amount.

The agreement covers about 250 locomotive engineers.

The new agreement amends the 2003 Engineer's Hourly Rate Agreement. Under the new arrangement, the Hourly Rate will increase to $38.63 on July 1, 2009, while the weekly guarantee for Engineers will increase to $1,738.24, providing GEB Engineers with a minimum annual income of over $90,000.00 per year.

"The whopping 91 percent positive vote by the membership in favor of ratification speaks volumes regarding the pay, protection and benefits this agreement provides for GTW Engineers and their families now and for many years to come," said John Karakian, GTW General Chairman. "This is especially true given the present climate within the country in regard to plant closings, outsourcing, rising fuel prices, bankruptcies, global competition, NAFTA, CAFTA, global unrest and uncertainties, etc, all of which have paved the way for the nation's railroads to jump on their middle class-busting corporate bandwagon to demand concessions."

BLET National Vice President Paul Sorrow played a key leadership role in negotiating the new contract. In addition to General Chairman Karakian, Vice President Sorrow thanked Marty Tyler, Local Chairman of BLET Division 650 (Durand, Mich.), and Tom Greenman, Local Chairman of BLET Division 33 (Battle Creek, Mich.), for their contributions during the negotiating process.

"In any worthwhile endeavor, we must be totally prepared and willing to do whatever it takes to achieve victory, as was the case in reaching this agreement," Vice President Sorrow said. "Words cannot express the high regard that I hold for General Chairman Karakian for his unyielding commitment to gain the very best agreement possible for his membership.

"Our success is directly attributed to the GTW Membership for their patience and support over the long period of time that preceded the agreement. Suffice it to say that I am extremely proud to have played a small part in this great union effort."

Marty Tyler thanked General Chairman Karakian for his efforts to help the Grand Trunk Western members, not only during this round of contract negotiations, but also for his efforts on a daily basis.

"I've been blessed to work with Brother John Karakian since 1992," Tyler said. "He is a Godsend for the men and women he represents. He doesn't do it for personal gain - he does it out of a commitment to the members and because it's the right thing to do. I can't thank him enough for all he does."

Tom Greenman described negotiations as a "roller coaster ride." He said Vice President Sorrow played a vital role during negotiations.

"He was our right hand man," Greenman said. "Without his help, we wouldn't have been as successful as we were."

BLET National President Don Hahs applauded the efforts of the negotiating team and praised Brothers Sorrow, Karakian, Tyler and Greenman for bringing the negotiating process to a successful conclusion.



© 2007 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen