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1/28/2003



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

TCU: Arbitrator's ruling on national agreement for carmen, clerks is 'disappointing'


On Jan. 23, an arbitrator released a decision governing a national agreement between Transportation Communications International Union (TCU) and National Carriers' Conference Committee.


The agreement covers wages, and health and welfare benefits for Brotherhood of Railway Carmen Division-represented clerks and carmen.


The decision calls for retroactive general wage increases of 2.5 percent on June 30, 2002, and 3.5 percent on July 1, 2002, as well as future increases of 3.0 percent on July 1, 2003, and 3.25 percent on July 1, 2004.


However, the agreement also increases TCU members' monthly health insurance payments. Similar to all rail labor union-represented workers, TCU members previously paid little out-of-pocket expenses for health-care insurance and no monthly premiums. The arbitrator ruled that TCU members should begin paying part of monthly premiums and retroactively pay for health-care insurance dating back to 2001.


"Overall, I am very disappointed," said TCU International President Robert Scardelletti in a prepared statement. "We presented a strong case for higher wages and dramatically lower contributions."


However, Scardelletti also said he wouldn't "second-guess" the union's decision to arbitrate the agreement because the union's only other option was a Presidential Emergency Board appointed by President Bush.


"This White House, more than any we know of in history, is wired to the railroad industry, as indicated by its recent nomination of CSX's [John Snow] to a high cabinet post," he said. "All our work rules and job protection agreements would have been up for grabs before a pro-railroad, pro-business, anti-labor panel."


In October 2002, TCU and NCCC agreed to settle their negotiations through binding arbitration under National Mediation Board's auspices.


The parties, which have been negotiating a national contract since January 2000, had been in contract mediation since October 2001, when NCCC rejected a tentative agreement.


"Continuing to go without a contract was also unacceptable," said Scardelletti. "We are now in the fourth year since our last contract ended."


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