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Rail News: Labor

Carriers' committee, UTU head for mediation in contract dispute

The National Mediation Board (NMB) will assign a mediator to prompt negotiations between the National Carriers' Conference Committee (NCCC) and United Transportation Union (UTU).

Two months ago, the parties broke off negotiations after the NCCC demanded the UTU bargain over local crew consist agreements that “are protected by a moratorium and cannot be handled nationally,” and negotiate a repeal of the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA), UTU officials said in a prepared statement. The parties also disagreed on pay rates, and work rules and conditions.

On March 15, the UTU filed a motion in a federal district court to prohibit the NCCC from demanding the union collectively bargain over the issues. On April 25, the NCCC — which bargains for 32 U.S. railroads, including all the Class Is — asked the NMB to invoke mediation.

"The UTU remains of the opinion that neither the local crew consist agreements nor FELA are appropriate issues for bargaining under the Railway Labor Act and that the UTU has no statutory duty to participate in mediation over these issues," said UTU International President Paul Thompson. "We intend to make that point to the federal mediator and will continue to pursue this matter in the federal courts."

Local crew consist agreements require the railroads to assign at least one conductor — and, in some cases, a brakeman — to every through train. No UTU member assigned to train service can lose their job involuntarily, union officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/18/2005