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Unified front: Seven rail labor unions form coalition to strengthen negotiating position

For the first time in 20 years, several rail labor unions have teamed up to bargain as one voice with major U.S. railroads.

Yesterday, the Teamster Rail Conference's Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, and Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED), and the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, American Train Dispatchers of America, National Conference of Firemen and Oilers, Sheet Metal Workers International Association and International Brotherhood of Boilermakers announced they formed the Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition to coordinate contract negotiations with the National Carriers' Conference Committee, which represents 32 U.S. railroads, including five Class Is.

Representing about 85,000 rail workers, the seven unions plan to develop a unified contract negotiating strategy and sign an agreement only if all coalition members concur with terms.

"Even though these unions work in a variety of crafts, they are united in their demands for job security, better wages and safer working conditions," said Teamster International Vice President John Murphy in a prepared statement.

The unified front will enable the unions to restore balance to contract negotiations, coalition members believe.

"This coalition will prevent the carriers from whipsawing unions, large and small alike, and will strengthen all of rail labor at negotiations," said BMWED President Freddie Simpson.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/4/2005