BLET, railroads unions announce national agreement with railroads

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Rail Unions making up the Coordinated Bargaining Group announced on Thursday that they have reached a Tentative National Agreement with the nation’s railroads. The collective bargaining group is comprised of six unions: the American Train Dispatchers Association; the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (a Division of the Rail Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters); the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen; the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers, and Helpers; the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers / SEIU; and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers.

On Wednesday, Oct. 4, the group’s full negotiating team met in Independence for a review of the terms of the proposed voluntary agreement. Following that review, each of the collective bargaining group unions’ negotiating teams unanimously endorsed the tentative agreement. On Thursday the involved general chairpersons of SMART TD, BRS and BLET met as well and those groups also unanimously endorsed the tentative agreement for consideration by the respective membership of each union.

The Tentative Agreement, which will be submitted to the memberships of each involved Union in the coming weeks, includes an immediate wage increase of 4 percent, with an additional 2.5 percent six months later on July 1, 2018, and an additional 3 percent one year later on July 1, 2019. In addition, wage increases of 2 percent effective July 1, 2016, and another 2 percent effective July 1, 2017, will be fully retroactive through implementation, for a compounded increase of 9.84 percent over an 18-month period and 13.14 percent over the 5-year contract term (this includes the first general wage increase of 3 percent implemented on Jan. 1, 2015).
All benefits existing under the health and welfare plan will remain in effect unchanged and there are no disruptions to the existing healthcare networks. While some employee participation costs are increased, the tentative agreement maintains reasonable maximum out-of-pocket protections for our members. The agreement also adds several new benefits to the Health and Welfare Plan for the members of the involved unions and, importantly, it requires that the Rail Carriers will, on average, continue to pay 90 percent of all of our members’ point of service costs.

On a matter of critical importance, the employees’ monthly premium contribution is frozen at the current rate of $228.89. The frozen rate can only be increased by mutual agreement at the conclusion of negotiations in the next round of bargaining that begins on Jan. 1, 2020.

In addition, the collective bargaining group steadfastly refused to accept the railroads’ demands for changes to work rules that would have imposed significant negative impacts on every one of our members. As a result of that rejection, the tentative agreement provides for absolutely no changes in work rules for any of the involved unions.

“This tentative agreement provides real wage increases over and above inflation, health care cost increases far below what the carriers were demanding, freezes our monthly health plan cost contribution at the current level, provides significant retroactive pay and imposes no changes to any of our work rules,” said the collective bargaining group union presidents. “This is a very positive outcome for a very difficult round of negotiations. We look forward to presenting the Tentative Agreement to our respective memberships for their consideration.”

— A railroad labor union news release. Oct. 5, 2017.
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