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BLE, UTU agree to principles for new organization

After ten months of extensive discussions, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and the United Transportation Union reached agreement on a "Statement of Principles" intended to create a new organization that will represent all operating rail employees in the U.S. and Canada, subject to membership approval. The BLE Advisory Board and UTU's Board of Directors both approved the "Statement" on Monday, November 23rd.

"It's quite an agreement," said BLE President Clarence Monin. "These Principles will guide us in creating a new organization uniting us with our brothers and sisters on the other side of the cab," he said. "And," Monin added, "it leaves open the possibility of uniting more and more of rail labor with us down the road."

 More details to come in next month's Special Edition of the Newsletter

- See Page 5 of this issue for Joint Statement of Principles

Most importantly, he noted, "it changes our collective bargaining relationship with the carriers immediately." When the two unions' boards adopted the Principles, both committed to negotiate jointly with the carriers on all national handling, including health and welfare, effective immediately.

"This is not a merger," Monin pointed out. "It is an amalgamation of many crafts, of which locomotive engineer will be among the largest, in an entirely new organization. It protects craft autonomy. It preserves BLE's democratic traditions, culture and history."

The BLE's talks with the UTU began last March, mediated by former AFL-CIO President Tom Donahue, under conditions recommended by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney.

The union's chief goals included:

1. Preserve the autonomy of our engine craft;
2. Increase our strength in collective bargaining with employers;
3. Protect our democratic traditions;
4. Insure UTU's greater numbers could not be used to gain control of the new organization.

The Statement of Principles guarantees that those goals are to be incorporated into the new organization's constitution and unification agreement that will be submitted to the memberships of both unions for ratification.

Both unions will name five representatives each to a "Joint Drafting Committee" that will do the detailed writing of the documents needed to create the new union. This committee will begin its work Jan. 1, 1999. It is to complete its drafting by Oct. 1, 1999. If a majority of both unions' members approve them, the new union would come into existence Jan. 1, 2000.

Both unions' negotiators worked under the strict confidentiality provisions of the Sweeney memorandum while the discussions were underway. With that restriction now largely lifted, BLE members will be given complete reports on the full details of the "Statement of Principles," and all supporting documents in the coming weeks and months.

"We're far from done," Monin said. For instance, the exact method of financing the new organization is still to be determined. A special committee of three members from each union with experience in union finances will report to the Oversight Committee by May 1, 1999 on possible measures. If necessary, a special panel of experts could then be called upon to determine the finances needed for the new union to provide the current level of services to members on a fiscally responsible basis.

However, Monin noted, "of every scenario I've examined, there won't be a dues increase for our members," adding that, "we've completed phase one only. We've got months and months of work to do to flesh out the basic, bare-bones 'Statement of Principles'."

Locomotive Engineer Training Centre to open
Dec. 3 in Saskatoon

OTTAWA, Nov. 23 -- The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers inaugurates a new era in railroading with the opening of its Canadian Locomotive Engineer Training Centre on December 3 in Saskatoon, Sask.

The Training Centre will utilize a state-of-the-art full motion locomotive simulator to provide locomotive engineer training to rail companies in the U.S. and Canada.

The BLE has assembled a team of instructors for the school, who are all qualified locomotive engineers.

"Our team of instructors has the experience to teach our students the industry's highest safety standards," said BLE President Clarence Monin. "Our courses will be very thorough and comprehensive, and safety will be the main focus throughout."

"Who better to teach prospective locomotive engineers than working locomotive engineers?" said BLE Canadian Director Gilles Hallé. "Each of our instructors has between 20 and 25 years of experience as a locomotive engineer, and they were also Locomotive Engineer Technical Instructors for Canadian National. With their expertise, and this modern equipment, our instructors will impart their knowledge, skill and pride of the craft to the students."

During the December 3 opening ceremony, the BLE will honor Canadian National President & CEO Paul Tellier, who arranged for the BLE to purchase its locomotive simulators.

"Paul Tellier, who was recently named Canadian CEO of the Year, helped the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers to take a big step forward," Hallé said.

The BLE is also looking at several U.S. cities to find a home for its second locomotive simulator, which was also acquired from CN. "The training Centre in Saskatoon will be the first opened by the BLE, and there will be at least one more to follow," Hallé said.

Students at the Training Centre will receive hours of intense training behind the throttle of the locomotive simulator.

In addition, classroom training will focus on technical items such as motive power, track/train dynamics, train handling and air brake systems.



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