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11/19/2007



Rail News: Labor

UTU, NCCC to resume collective bargaining talks in January



United Transportation Union (UTU) and National Carriers' Conference Committee (NCCC) officials will meet Jan. 22 in Jacksonville, Fla., to renew contract talks — marking the parties’ return to the bargaining table since negotiations broke off in January 2007.

The National Mediation Board scheduled the meeting, which also will mark the first collective bargaining session for the newly formed International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) Workers' transportation division and new UTU Chief Negotiator Mike Futhey. A merger of UTU and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association, SMART will launch operations Jan. 1 and represent about 46,000 conductors and brakemen who will be covered by a new contract.

Contract talks broke down in early 2007 over disagreements concerning the training of new employees and entry-level wages. The UTU sued the NCCC — which bargains for more than 30 U.S. railroads, including the Class Is — in federal court, claiming a two-tier pay system and inadequate new hire training is "damaging efforts of railroads to recruit and retain qualified employees, and may be contributing to safety problems," union officials said in a statement posted on UTU's Web site. Arguments will be heard tomorrow at a federal district court in East St. Louis, Ill.

"The UTU negotiating committee looks forward to meeting with the carriers in January," said Futhey. "I am optimistic that progressive dialogue will be exchanged and that all will recognize and address the problems."


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