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12/17/2003



Rail News: Labor

BLE members ratify national contract with U.S. roads



On Dec. 16, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers announced 62 percent of members approved a new collective bargaining agreement with U.S. railroads.

The contract provides general wage increases, a lump-sum retroactive payment and — for the first time — short-term disability insurance beginning in July 2004. The pact also covers work-rule, and health and welfare benefit changes.

In addition, 60 percent of BLE members employed by Burlington Northern Santa Fe approved an alternative compensation package, which bypasses general wage increases beginning in July 2004 in lieu of profit sharing. In the first year of the contract, members would receive maximum profit-sharing payouts matching 6 percent of their 2004 earnings, and 8 percent of 2005 and successive year earnings. Members retain the right to drop out of the profit-sharing plan after the first year.

"[The agreement] provides long overdue wage increases for our members and will bridge us into the next round of negotiations, which will start in November 2004," said BLE International President Don Hahs in a prepared statement.


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