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Rail News: Labor

Rail labor union coalition, carriers' committee finalize tentative agreement


In late February, the Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition (RLBC) and National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC) reached a tentative “outline” agreement on a five-year contract. Now, the parties have finalized contract language and the coalition’s seven rail labor unions soon will send the agreement to members for a ratification vote.

The tentative pact calls for general wage increases totaling 17 percent until Dec. 31, 2009. The contract also would retain work rules and cap workers’ health and welfare contributions at 15 percent. However, the agreement wouldn’t grant railroads the authority to reduce train crews to one worker — a proposal roads at one time sought to include in the contract.

RLBC unions, which represent about 85,000 rail workers, plan to mail ratification packets to members later this month and conclude the voting process next month. Th American Arbitration Association will tally votes and announce results on June 25. The coalition comprises the American Train Dispatchers Association, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED), Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS), International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, National Conference of Firemen and Oilers/Service Employees International Union and Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association.

“This agreement represents a historic achievement for rail labor [because] for the first time in a generation, a major portion of rail labor negotiated in solidarity,” said BMWED President Fred Simpson in a prepared statement.

Added BRS President Dan Pickett: “The RLBC remained united through very difficult negotiations … and achieved the best contact we’ve gotten in decades.”

The NCCC, which bargains for more than 30 U.S. railroads (including the Class Is), has been negotiating national collective agreements with 13 rail labor unions since November 2004. The RLBC represents about 46 percent of rail workers covered by national contracts.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/15/2007