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Pacific Harbor Line Inc. (PHL) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) recently signed a new five-year agreement covering the short line's operating and maintenance-of-way employees.The pact was overwhelmingly ratified by PHL employees and signed on July 4. The contract includes "significant" wage increases, employee contributions to health care coverage and modifications to some rules concerning profit sharing, overtime, the selection of job assignments and productivity, PHL and BLET officials said in a press release.The BLET's Division 214 in Long Beach, Calif., has represented PHL's employees since the railroad was formed in 1998. Union employment at the short line has grown from 27 to nearly 120 in the past 15 years. The BLET — which recently marked its 150th anniversary — is a division of the Rail Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and represents more than 57,000 U.S. employees.Although the agreement took a few years to negotiate, it includes a key profit-sharing provision that "greatly improves the earning power of BLET members," said BLET General Chairman Bill Hannah in a press release.An Anacostia Rail Holdings subsidiary, PHL provides switching services to customers in the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, and dispatches all BNSF Railway Co. and Union Pacific Railroad trains within the ports.The agreement reflects "teamwork, persistence and determination by both parties," said PHL President Otis Cliatt II.
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