BLE ratifies deal with CN's Wisconsin Central Division

On March 13, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers announced ratification of a ground-breaking labor agreement with the Wisconsin Central Division (WCD) of Canadian National.

"Negotiations were launched well in advance of the expiration of the current agreement because of a strong labor and management interest in exploring alternative methods of compensating operating employees," BLE International Vice-President Rick Radek said.

"In contrast with standard Class 1 railroad mileage- and rule-based wage systems, this progressive agreement is based on a concept of hourly wage and job guarantees. We believe this less complex pact should lead to more cooperative and less adversarial relations between labor and management."

The BLE represents about 310 locomotive engineers on WCD. The three-year agreement, effective April 2002, settles wage and work rule issues for engineers through March 2005, and supersedes an existing agreement with a term through yearend 2002.

Brother Radek assisted WC General Chairman Jeff Bochman during negotiations. Radek said the deal will provide across-the-board pay increases of approximately 30 percent for the BLE engineers. In addition, the deal reinstates overtime pay and implements a first-ever scope rule on the property.

The new deal gives engineers lifetime protection as well.

"They cannot be demoted," Radek said. "They stay engineers and will earn the monthly guarantee. Brother Bochman and I are pleased that the agreement was ratified."

The new contract maintains the current level of health and welfare benefits, and also maintains workers' "Performance Bonus Incentive Plan," a profit sharing/bonus program.

Under the old contract, WC engineers were paid a weekly salary and a 12 hour basic day. Under the new agreement, engineers are paid an hourly rate on a 10 hour basic day, then paid time-and-a-half for work in excess of 10 hours.

BLE International President Don M. Hahs applauded General Chairman Bochman, Vice-President Radek and all BLE Brothers and Sisters involved for coming to an equitable agreement.

E. Hunter Harrison, CN's executive vice-president and chief operating officer, said: "I applaud the BLE and WCD leadership in forging a breakthrough agreement. It will preserve the work-rule flexibility of an earlier agreement while enhancing compensation and quality of life for WCD engineers. This is truly important, because I've long believed that the complexities of Class 1 labor agreements create almost as many employee life quality and operating problems as the agreements are intended to solve."



2002 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers