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UTU officers support carrier agreement, target July ratification vote


United Transportation Union's international officers and general chairpersons May 23 voiced support for the union's tentative agreement with National Carriers’ Conference Committee, which represents 30 U.S. railroads (including five Class Is), according to a news item posted May 24 on the union's Web site.
The pact, which must be ratified by UTU members, would increase wages by December 2004, eliminate a two-tier wage system, protect UTU members against job loss from locomotive remote-control implementation and require railroads to study alternative means to control health-care costs.
"This contract is about improving our members' standards of living and providing them with long-term survivability in a world where technology is replacing humans," said UTU International President Byron Boyd Jr.
General chairpersons by June 7 must submit questions regarding contract interpretation, which would be sent to rail negotiators for a written response. UTU plans by early July to send members the proposed contract, questions and answers, negotiation history and other materials; members then would have 21 days to study the contract and cast a ballot.
The proposed contract would:
• increase wages 4 percent July 1, 2002, 2.5 percent July 1, 2003, and 3 percent July 1, 2004;
• provide a $1,200 longevity bonus for all pre-1985 employees;
• offer members at carriers' discretion alternative compensation programs, such as stock options, stock grants, bonus programs and 401k plans, which would be implemented only by mutual agreement with general committees;
• roll all cost-of-living adjustments since July 1, 2000 ($3.84 per day) into wages, subject to all general wage increases;
• maintain status quo for health-care benefits and cost sharing, pending a study and negotiations concerning plan redesign, cost containment, cost sharing, administrative changes and vendor review; and
• establish an overview committee of UTU and carrier representatives to discuss and resolve problems associated with remote-control technology.
Boyd believes members should evaluate the contract "by the light of reality:" "Remote control is not going away. So we must ask ourselves: 'Do we want this work? Do we want to decide our destiny? Or do we want to give the work to the BLE and let BLE negotiators decide our destiny?'"

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More News from 5/28/2002