BLE scores second major victory for post-85 workers

Tentative GTW deal is second major win for post-85 workers in just 30 days

A tentative contract agreement between the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Grand Trunk Western will give locomotive engineers a fully retroactive 12 percent pay hike and eliminate substandard deadhead pay for post-85 workers.

In the past 30 days, the BLE reached agreements with two Class 1 carriers, each providing significant gains for post-85 workers. It is evidence that the BLE produces concrete results for its members in the form of better wages and improved working conditions.

The BLE plans to use these agreements as a basis for ending substandard pay for all post-85 engineers in the current round of national wage negotiations.

The agreement was initialed by International Vice-President Paul T. Sorrow, General Chairman John Karakian, Vice-General Chairman M.J. Tyler. Brother Karakian issued the following statement following a special informational/victory meeting on April 7:

"Vice President Sorrow summed it up best when he so aptly stated that after a very long fight waged by the Negotiating Team and BLE Members, we have been able to take care of securing justice for all engineers and for the very first time in 15 years, all engineers will be paid for what they do and not for how long they've been on the job."

If approved by a majority of BLE members, the GTW agreement will provide a 12 percent wage hike over the life of the contract (through January 2001). The wage package includes retroactive payments dating to January 1, 1998. The extra board guarantee was increased by more than 25 percent.

The $15 daily certification pay for engineers, along with $.15 per overmile, will be rolled over into the basic day payment. The $4.00 "no fireman" rate of pay will be increased to $6.00 on the DTSL, and rolls the "no fireman" rate of pay into the basic day on the effective date of the agreement.

Of interest to post-85 workers is the elimination of substandard deadhead pay. All employees, regardless of hiring date, will be compensated for deadheading in accordance with the "pre-85" provisions contained in Article VI, 2(a) of Arbitration Award 458. In addition, the entry rate progression has been eliminated for all BLE-represented engineers and apprentice engineers.

Short-term disability insurance and life insurance plans will also be established if the contract is approved. Employees would receive $546 a week as part of the sickness benefit plan. They would also receive additional life insurance of $40,000 and a $42,000 additional accidental death insurance.

On March 8, BLE members overwhelmingly approved a contract with Norfolk Southern that eliminated substandard deadhead pay for post-85 workers and gave all engineers a 14.4% wage increase. The deal reduced the five-year wage progression, which began at 75 percent, to a three-year progression, which begins at 85 percent.

Under the two-tier arrangement, new engineers start at 75% of full pay and take five years with the company to earn 100%.

The substandard deadhead pay and five-year wage progression were all provisions of the 1985 UTU national agreement. The agreement signed by UTU became the "pattern" that was imposed on the BLE by arbitration.

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