BLE, GTW reach tentative agreement

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers has reached a tentative contract agreement for locomotive engineers on CN's Grand Trunk Western lines.

If approved, the contract would become effective February 2, 2004. Across the board, engineers would receive average pay increases of approximately $12 per hour, bringing wages to $33 per hour.

BLE International President Don Hahs recognized the efforts of International Vice-President Paul Sorrow and GTW General Chairman John Karakian.

Karakian said the BLE has been in negotiations with the carrier for the past year and a half, and said the success was a team effort.

"This was a total team effort of gigantic proportions," Brother Karakian said. "I want to thank President Hahs, Vice-President Sorrow, the entire International Division, all my Local Chairmen and all other members. Every little bit helped."

Karakian recognized all GTW Local Chairmen, specifically Terry Tindol (Division 33, Battle Creek, Mich.); Jerry Tibble (Division 122, Port Huron, Mich.); Vice-General Chairman Marty Tyler (Division 650, Durand, Mich.); Danny Harris (Division 812, Detroit); G.N. Faford (Division 850, Flat Rock, Mich.); and Dave Butler (Division 920, Pontiac, Mich.).

"This contract was the result of a lot of hard work and a lot of not backing down," Karakian said.

The contract provides protections for remote control operations, and stipulates that locomotive engineers must be used if a train is operated by remote control outside of existing switching limits or anywhere within existing switching limits faster than restricted speed. It also provides that if a train is operated outside of existing switching limits by any mode of operations (on board or off board computer, including GPS) then it must be operated by a locomotive engineer.

The agreement also contains a shortline sale/lease protection clause. In the event that GTW or any of its lines are sold or leased, employees cannot be furloughed. The company is obligated to absorb employees and provide jobs at the nearest terminal.

While the proposed contract does not provide for back wages, the company has agreed to pay the tab for all retroactive health and welfare expenses. As part of the proposed agreement the GTW members will fall under the national health and welfare contract and will begin making monthly health and welfare payments.

The contract also contains an opt-out clause, where the BLE can back out of the agreement by December 1, 2004.

President Hahs applauded Vice-President Sorrow, General Chairman Karakian and everyone else involved for bringing the negotiations to a successful conclusion.



© 2003 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers