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Rail News: Labor

Six unions team up to tackle national agreement negotiations; BLET members ratify CSX pact


Six rail labor unions will bargain jointly in the upcoming round of negotiations for the next national agreements with railroads, leaders of the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) and Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) announced yesterday.

In addition to the SMART Transportation Division and BLET, the participating unions are the American Train Dispatchers Association, Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers, and National Conference of Firemen and Oilers/SEIU.

On Dec. 8, SMART Transportation Division and BLET officials served bargaining notices to their respective railroads, including identical notices related to health and welfare and related benefits.

"Today, we build on the successes of joint bargaining during the past two national rounds," said BLET National President Dennis Pierce in a press release. "Now more than ever before, it is imperative that the unions representing railroad operating crafts sit side-by-side at the national table."

Jointly, the participating unions represent more than 85,000 rail workers covered by the various national agreements and comprise more than 58 percent of the workforce impacted by the negotiations.

"Working together will allow rail labor to make the strongest possible effort to obtain for our members the wages and working conditions that they deserve," said SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich.

The BLET also announced that members have ratified a new collective agreement with CSX Transportation. The pact governs pay rates and work rules for more than 4,800 locomotive engineers.

Health and welfare benefits for CSX locomotive engineers will be bargained nationally, starting in early 2015, BLET officials said.