National rail talks: October update

October 7, 2010

The UTU and railroads party to the national rail agreement will meet next week and again in mid-November in continuing negotiations aimed at amending a contract covering wages, benefits and working conditions.

These will be the sixth and seventh negotiating sessions between the UTU and the National Carriers’ Conference Committee.

The national rail contract came open for amendment Jan. 1, 2010.

Carriers in national handling, under the umbrella of the National Carriers’ Conference Committee, include BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific and many smaller railroads.

Some 40,000 UTU members are affected by these national contract talks with the NCCC, and the resulting agreements frequently set patterns for other negotiated rail agreements.

The Oct. 12-13 negotiations will focus on health-care insurance; and the Nov. 15-17 negotiations will focus on wages and working conditions.

“These upcoming negotiations could be potentially productive,” said UTU International President Mike Futhey, who is the UTU’s chief negotiator. “Nothing has been agreed to, but progress is being made. It is impossible to say that any issue has been finalized until all issues are agreed on,” Futhey said.

Other UTU officers on the negotiating team include Assistant President Arty Martin; International Vice Presidents Robert Kerley and Delbert Strunk; and General Chairpersons John Lesniewski (GO 049), Pate King (GO 680) and Doyle Turner (GO 347).

The existing national agreement remains in force until amendments are concluded under provisions of the Railway Labor Act.

Negotiations also continue between the National Carriers Conference Committee and two rail-labor coalitions.

One, led by the Teamsters Rail Conference, includes the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes, the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, the Brotherhood of Boilermakers and Blacksmiths, the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers, and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association.

The other, which has asked for mediation under provisions of the Railway Labor Act, include the Transportation Communications Union, the American Train Dispatchers Association, the International Association of Machinists, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and the Transport Workers Union.