Panhandle Northern workers get first BLET contract

BLET-represented workers at the Panhandle Northern Railroad (PNR) unanimously ratified their first union contract on October 27.

Members at the short line railroad will see immediate wage increases of 7 percent to 12 percent when the agreement goes into effect on November 1. On top of that, they will receive wage increase of 3 percent each year for the next four years. Members will also receive longevity pay.

"Across the board this is a good agreement," said John Mullen, the BLET's Director of Shortlines.

Going into negotiations, which began in March, workers cited health care concerns as one of their top priorities. The BLET agreement secures a reduction in co-pay for workers as well as other health and welfare improvements.

Members will also work under a guaranteed extra board with assigned days off.

Perhaps most importantly, the BLET agreement provides PNR workers with their first-ever discipline rule and grievance rule.

"Those are the most important with these first agreements," Mullen said.

Mullen credited Brian Price, Local Chairman of the PNR members, for his efforts during contract negotiations.

"Brian Price did an excellent job representing the needs of the PNR members," Mullen said.

A 99 percent majority of workers at the PNR voted to join the BLET in January.

The PNR operates over 31 miles of track between the towns of Panhandle and Borger, Texas. Even though it is a small railroad, it stays busy as a vital interchange between the BNSF Railway and many chemical plants. In fact, Borger is home of the nation's largest inland petrochemical complex.

The PNR is a former Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe (now BNSF) line. The PNR main line is primarily continuous welded rail. PNR handles carbon black, liquid petroleum gas, chemicals, petroleum products, scrap metal, fertilizer and grain, and serves Agrium, Chevron Phillips, Conoco Phillips, Degussa Engineered Carbons, Sid Richardson, Texas Pipe, Van Waters and others.

PNR is a subsidiary of OmniTRAX, a transportation holding company with 17 railroads in three Canadian provinces and six U.S. states.



© 2006 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen