Contract talks stymied by UTU agreement

The BLE National Wage Committee met with railroad industry negotiators in Washington during the week of October 9, in the latest effort to move forward with bargaining on Section 6 notices served last November.

The talks, originally scheduled for October 2, were postponed for a week after the announcement of a tentative agreement between the carriers represented by the National Carriers' Conference Committee (NCCC) and the United Transportation Union (UTU).

Chief industry negotiator Robert F. Allen provided the BLE Wage Committee with copies of the tentative UTU agreement, which includes the following major provisions: a $1,200 lump sum payment to all pre-85 employees on April 1, 2001; annual general wage increases of 2.5%, 3%, 2.5% and 3%, beginning on July 1, 2001, with a property-by-property option to provide alternative compensation in lieu of the general wage increase; elimination of the post-85 rules governing deadheading and initial and final terminal delay by the introduction of "trip rates" in all classes of road freight service by July 1, 2003; bringing all current employees compensated under the entry rate progression up to full rates on January 1, 2003; and deferral of health and welfare issues to negotiations being conducted by a coalition of all crafts.

After reviewing the agreement and presenting the carriers with over two dozen questions concerning various provisions, which were answered by NCCC, the Wage Committee informed the carriers that the UTU agreement was deficient in several respects.

First, that the economic components of the deal were inadequate, given record industry profits in four of the past five years. Second, that the costs and benefits of the package are more favorable for UTU-represented employees than they would be for locomotive engineers. Third, that several issues of concern to the BLE were not addressed whatsoever.

Allen also was told that a financial analysis of the deal would be undertaken, after which the BLE will be in a position to make a more detailed response.

In the interim, the National Wage Committee will meet to consider the economic implications of the deal and reassess its position once the financial analysis is completed.


2000 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers