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RAIL EMPLOYMENT



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10/4/2011



Rail News: Labor

BLET members back strike; UTU reaches tentative pact with Texas short line


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Ninety-seven percent of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) members recently voted in favor of authorizing a strike against major U.S. railroads when a mandatory 30-day cooling off period expires later this week. Locomotive engineers plan to walk off the job at 12:01 a.m. (EDT) on Oct. 7 unless President Obama intervenes and appoints a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB), which would halt any strike or lockout and issue recommendations concerning a contract dispute with the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC), BLET officials said in a prepared statement.

On Sept. 6, the National Mediation Board (NMB) released the BLET and 10 other rail labor unions from mediation with the NCCC — which bargains for more than 30 U.S. railroads, including the Class Is — instituting the 30-day cooling off period. The BLET is negotiating a contract with the NCCC as part of the Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition, which also includes the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division, Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, National Conference of Firemen & Oilers and Sheet Metal Workers International Association.

The near unanimous strike vote shows members are unwilling to accept a concessionary contract and health care coverage reductions, said BLET National President Dennis Pierce.

Another coalition that includes the American Train Dispatchers Association, International Association of Machinists, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Transportation Communications Union and Transport Workers Union also is negotiating a contract with the NCCC and was released from mediation by the NMB last month.

Meanwhile, the United Transportation Union (UTU) recently reached a tentative agreement with Western Rail Road (WRRC) covering train, engine and mechanical workers. The short line’s employees selected the UTU as their collective bargaining agent in February. The 1.9-mile WRRC connects a quarry and cement plant in Dittlinger, Texas, with a Union Pacific Railroad line.


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