Tentative national contract now available
After almost two and a half years of negotiating, the Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition (RLBC) finalized its tentative agreement with the National Carrier's Conference Committee (NCCC), and the document has been sent to members for ratification.
Per the BLET Bylaws, active members were sent a synopsis of the agreement, along with a ballot, on May 17. Ballots are due back on June 15, at which time balloting results will be announced.
Enclosed in this issue of the Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen News is the full text of the agreement for membership review.
The RLBC represents seven rail labor unions whose contracts cover nearly 85,000 rail workers or 65 percent of the carriers' employees. The unions participating in the RLBC are the American Train Dispatchers Association, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division, Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, National Conference of Firemen and Oilers/SEIU, and the Sheet Metal Workers' International Association.
The NCCC is the carriers' bargaining coalition representing the nation's major railroads in national negotiations, including Union Pacific, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Norfolk Southern, CSX, Kansas City Southern, that transport most the rail freight in the country. The tentative agreement is the first step that begins the ratification process for the unions who are members of the RLBC.
The tentative agreement includes general wage increases totaling 17 percent (18.2 percent compounded over the life of the agreement) which will remain effective until December 31, 2009.
"The carriers started this process two years ago believing they could divide rail labor. They were sadly misinformed," said Don Hahs, President of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET). "The carriers' dangerous proposal to reduce train crew size to one person was stopped in its tracks. The carriers hoped to pit union against union but they failed. The BLET refused to succumb to their divisive tactics.
"Instead, we focused on solidarity and together - with the support of the RLBC - we stopped the rail carriers' outrageous locomotive crew reduction proposal because it imperiled the safety of rail workers and the communities they serve."
Fred Simpson, President of the BMWED, said: "This agreement represents a historic achievement for rail labor. For the first time in a generation, a major portion of rail labor negotiated in solidarity. Together we busted the carriers' 'divide and conquer' strategy, in which they would pit one union against another to achieve the lowest common denominator."
Members who do not receive ballots should e-mail BallotRequest@ble-t.org or call the office of National Secretary-Treasurer Bill Walpert at (216) 241-2630, ext. 227.
© 2007 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen