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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Several unions note progress, impasse in contract negotiations


Keolis Rail Services recently reached an agreement with the United Transportation Union (UTU) covering conductors and assistant conductors at Virginia Railway Express (VRE). Yesterday, Keolis assumed operation of VRE commuter trains between northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., from Amtrak. Keolis is negotiating a contract covering VRE locomotive engineers with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.

Meanwhile, the UTU and Amtrak continue to negotiate amendments to a current agreement, which became open for amendment Jan. 1 under Railway Labor Act provisions. The pact covers about 2,300 Amtrak conductors and assistant conductors. In February 2009, the UTU and Amtrak reached an agreement, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2000, after eight years of negotiations.

In addition, Transportation Communications Union (TCU) President Bob Scardelletti recently declared contract talks with freight railroads to be "at an impasse," prompting the union to invoke mediation by the National Mediation Board (NMB) for TCU-represented carmen and clerks. The International Association of Machinists, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, American Train Dispatchers Association and Transport Workers Union — which have been negotiating together with TCU in a voluntary coalition — also invoked mediation, he said.

"There has been no progress in the negotiations since they began in January," said Scardelletti in a prepared statement, adding that "major cost shifting concessions in the national health and welfare plan, including increased employee contributions" are not acceptable to the union.

The NMB now will appoint a mediator or mediators to oversee contract negotiations and set a schedule for future talks.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/13/2010