BLE, carriers resume contract negotiations

Next session scheduled for April 4-5 in Washington, D.C.

The BLE's National Wage Committee is back at the table with the National Carriers' Conference Committee (NCCC) on the national track of the bargaining round that began on November 1, 1999.

A two-day bargaining session was held in Washington, D.C., on February 22-23. This was the first face-to-face meeting between the parties since last Fall, when the BLE rejected the tentative UTU agreement that was presented to the Committee.

No progress was reported on the major issues of wages, benefits, elimination of the post-85 "two-tier" wage structure and possible changes to the basis of pay for road freight engineers.

Commenting on the lack of progress, BLE International President Edward Dubroski said, "It is clear that the carriers are continuing to stall, in an effort to set a national pattern that is based on the tentative UTU agreement, which still isn't completed."

The Wage Committee will meet again later this month with its legal and economic advisors, to flesh-out costing of various components of the BLE's proposal, and the parties will meet again in Washington on April 4-5.

In a related matter, the Cooperating Railway Labor Organizations (CRLO) - Rail Labor's bargaining arm for Health & Welfare issues - met on March 2 and decided to retain The Segal Company, a Washington-based consulting firm, to make a comparison of various health plans throughout the transportation industry, as Health & Welfare negotiations have bogged down.

As a result of an 18% increase in GA­23000 premiums this year, driven mostly by a 20% increase in prescription drug costs, the carriers now are demanding that railroad workers pay 20% of the monthly premium of $705, and that prescription co-pays be raised to 10% of cost for generic drugs, 20% for name-brand drugs that are on a formulary list, and 40% for name-brand drugs that are not on a formulary list.

"This is a demand for a huge give-back, and is completely unacceptable," said Dubroski. "Rail Labor is united in fighting this major concession."

"Local track" negotiations also continue on the various individual Class I railroads between the general committees of adjustment and labor relations officers on each respective property.


© 2001 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers