Yes to national contract!

By a 62% majority, BLE members approved a new collective bargaining agreement with the nation's railroads on December 16.

An alternative compensation package was also ratified by a 60 percent majority of members who work for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway.

The national agreement covers work rules and health & welfare. It includes general wage increases, a lump sum retroactive payment, and will, for the first time, provide short-term disability insurance starting in July 2004 for those covered.

"We were able to negotiate a reasonable contract in spite of facing several pattern agreements," Hahs said. "It provides long overdue wage increases for our members and will bridge us into the next round of negotiations, which will start in November 2004."

President Hahs said the agreement was a significant gain for post-85 members, and will "bring our post-85 members up to par with our pre-85 members."

"The ratified agreement is the result of months of effort by members of the National Negotiating team and our general chairmen at the on-property level," President Hahs said. "I wish to thank those individuals: First Vice-President Ed Rodzwicz; Vice-President Paul Sorrow; Vice-President Dale McPherson; General Chairman Cleatus Roy (Southeast); General Chairman Gil Gore (West); General Chairman Tommy Roberts (East); General Chairman Larry Sykes (Norfolk Southern for health & welfare); and Mediator Sam Cognata of the National Mediation Board for his assistance. I also thank our attorneys Roland Wilder and Brother Tom Brennan."

As part of their alternative compensation package, members on the BNSF opted to bypass general wage increases to be paid in July 2004 in favor of profit sharing, which is linked to the company's profitability.

The BLE's four General Chairmen on the BNSF worked together on the alternative compensation package - Dennis Pierce, Austin Morrison, Pat Williams and Rick Gibbons.

"We entered into profit sharing and are hopeful our members will realize even more in earnings potential under this new agreement," said BNSF General Chairman Dennis Pierce. "This is the first BNSF system-wide agreement ratified by the entire merged property, and it was made possible through the concerted efforts of all BNSF General Chairmen and International Vice-President Steve Speagle. We will continue our combined efforts as we look forward to the next round of negotiations.

"I also wish to thank President Hahs and members of the National Negotiating Team for getting this round of negotiations closed out."

"I'm glad we were able to put this round to a close," General Chariman Williams said. "The alternative compensation package we believe will make our members money. They'll get paid like they should be paid."

In the first year of the BNSF alternative compensation contract, members would see a maximum profit sharing of 6% of their annual earnings for 2004 and a maximum of 8% for 2005 and thereafter. Members have the right to opt out of the profit sharing after the first year.



© 2003 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers