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BRS, railroads reach tentative agreement, avert strike


After three-and-a-half years of negotiations and a recent strike threat, National Carriers' Conference Committee (NCCC) and Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS) reached a tentative agreement June 20.

Covering more than 6,000 U.S. and Canadian signalmen, and set to expire at the end of 2004, the agreement includes general wage increases totaling 12.25 percent, a 27 cent cost-of-living adjustment, health and welfare benefits and work rule revisions, and a $100-per-month cap on workers' health-care contributions.

"This agreement falls short of what BRS members deserve, but the current political and economic climate forced us to lower our expectations," said BRS International President W. Dan Pickett in a prepared statement. "We are pleased that this agreement meets the major objectives of our negotiating committee and moves our members away from formula-based employee health-care contributions."

The tentative deal "marks another significant step" for railroads toward reaching agreements with all rail-labor unions, said NCCC Chairman Robert Allen.

"The BRS agreement follows the pattern for the current round of bargaining and secures that pattern as we work to complete negotiations with the remaining unions," he said.

BRS plans soon to present the agreement to members for a ratification vote, which is expected to be completed in September.

Last month, a vast majority of BRS members favored a strike against NCCC because of long-stalled negotiations. Of two-thirds of eligible strike ballots, more than 95 percent supported a strike.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/24/2003