BLE, Springfield Terminal/D&H reach five-year agreement

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and the Springfield Terminal Railway reached a new five-year contract agreement in May, which provides for improved health care provisions and a 15 percent pay increase over the life of the deal.

BLE International President Don Hahs congratulated the bargaining team for their hard work in bringing the negotiations to a successful conclusion. The deal was negotiated over a two-year period by International Vice-President Merle Geiger, General Chairman Mike Twombly, Vice Chairman John Brown, and Division 191 (Lunenburg, Mass.) Local Chairman Kevin Moore.

"This round of contract negotiations with Springfield Terminal was extremely difficult to say the least," Vice-President Geiger said. "It was the Organization's intentions - along with reasonable wage increases - to not only maintain present health care benefits, but to improve upon them without additional cost to the membership.

"Further, we were not willing to give up any of the hard-earned rules and benefits gained in previous contracts. We were ultimately successful in attaining these goals."

General Chairman Twombly said the health and welfare package is "the single most important item" in the new contract. In a time when companies are forcing employees to pay out-of-pocket expenses for health care services, the Springfield Terminal agreement ensures that BLE members pay no out-of-pocket contributions for health care.

"It should be pointed out that not only did we hold the line on out-of-pocket contributions, but our health care is being improved," Brother Twombly said.

The major improvement is the addition of eye care coverage to the health and welfare package.

Starting in 2003, the contract provides for six pay increases over a five year and six month period, running through 2008.

The first 2 percent raise is effective at the date of signing. Rates will be increased again on Jan. 1, 2004. Another 2 percent raise is effective Jan. 1, 2005. Three percent pay raises will come on Jan. 1 2006, Jan. 1 2007 and Jan. 1, 2008, providing for an overall pay increase of 15 percent. Members also receive a $1,150 bonus at the time of signing.

The new contract provides for improved employee assistance following traumatic incidents.

"A BLE member involved in a traumatic incident will be relieved from duty as soon as possible, transported to the home terminal and compensated for the remainder of the trip," Brother Twombly said. "Further, engineers will be required to contact the Employee Assistance Program within 24 hours for clearance to return to service. During this period, BLE members will be allowed eight hous pay for up to three days. Engineers who are not able to return to work will be allowed to use the balance of any unpaid leave they still have, vacation, and/or personal days."

In addition, the contract gives BLE members increased meal allowances and improved training to become qualified over new territories.

"I cannot say enough regarding the efforts of the negotiating team headed by General Chairman Twombly," Geiger said. "Their endurance and tenacity during this round of bargaining was exceptional. Our members on the Springfield Terminal are in very good hands with these dedicated officers."


© 2003 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers