Passenger Rail News

Pattern agreement 'unfair' for BLET members at LIRR

The BLET members at the Long Island Rail Road ratified a pattern contract settlement recently.

During the long running negotiations, three different disputes were arbitrated, one of which began in Federal Court when BLET members threatened to strike over the carrier using outside contractors to move trains in its new Arch Street Yard facility.

"We fought long and hard in an effort to negotiate an agreement that not only recognized issues unique to our craft but compensated us for our superior skill, responsibility and productivity as well," said General Chairman Robert M. Evers. "Unfortunately, our demand for a release from mediation was denied and we ended up with the pattern settlement negotiated by another craft. During the past 10 years there has been a huge turnover in our membership due to retirements and many of these members were unfamiliar with pattern bargaining.

"They now realize the inherent unfairness associated with this process and the consequences it has on not only our wages and benefits but also our lack of leverage at the bargaining table. However, one of the positive aspects of this settlement was our members coming together with their General Committee and participating in our Organization's democratic ratification process. I am most grateful for the assistance of President Hahs, First Vice President Rodzwicz, our legal counsel, both locally and nationally, and our Arbitration Department, who were with us every step of the way during our struggle for a fair and equitable agreement."

BLET members working on the New York & Atlantic Railroad also ratified an agreement recently.

"We hammered out a fair settlement that did not require us to overcome a pattern agreement," General Chairman Evers said. "In addition to a continuation of a $20 per day longevity payment, the agreement also provides for the 'rolling in' of the Certification Allowance into the hourly rate and time and one-half for working a sixth and seventh day in the workweek.

"The New York & Atlantic Railroad truly cares about their employees, which was demonstrated during negotiations, which is in sharp contrast to having to deal with the MTA/LIRR. The percentage wage increases over the four year term of the agreement will ultimately be enhanced by the profit sharing clause should the carrier increase their business. BLET members are essentially partners in the success of the freight operating over the LIRR and have been recognized as such as a result of this agreement."



© 2006 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen