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11/10/2003



Rail News: Labor

UTU members ratify health care pact


United Transportation Union (UTU) members recently ratified a new health-care insurance plan that locks in improved benefits at "lower costs than any other rail union has achieved," according to a news item posted last week at UTU's Web site (www.utu.org).

The agreement, which covers about 43,000 UTU members employed by U.S. railroads, was ratified by 60 percent of UTU voters. Votes were counted and reported by the American Arbitration Association, which conducted the voting process.

The pact was ratified by each of UTU's six autonomous crafts — brakemen, conductors, engineers, firemen, yardmen and yardmasters — which is required under the UTU Constitution.

"The majority of our members understand the health care crisis in the United States today and responded by controlling their own destiny," said UTU International President Byron Boyd Jr. "This agreement is better than any other rail organization has achieved and better than anything else out there — bar none."

The UTU agreement doesn't permanently give up future wage increases to keep health care — "unlike other rail organizations'," according to UTU. It doesn't require members to make retroactive payments to carriers, or to give up the entire value of future cost-of-living adjustments.

The deal marked the second major national rail agreement ratified by UTU members in the past 15 months. A wage and rules agreement was ratified in August 2002. These are the only two national rail agreements ratified by members in the 34-year history of the UTU.

The American Arbitration Association will issue final certification, the details of which will be provided as soon as possible, according to UTU.


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