UTU engineers, conductors and collectors employed by Chicago South Shore & South Bend, an electric-line passenger operation between Chicago and South Bend, Ind., have ratified a new two-year agreement.

The new contract provides for several favorable rules changes, certification pay for engineers and conductors, increased mentor compensation, a lump sum payment, preservation of a cost-of-living adjustment, and no increase in health-care insurance contribution.

International Representative John Babler, who assisted with the negotiations, praised General Chairperson Tony Wojasinski (GO CSS) and Local 1526 officers Robert Kehoe and Kay Harmon “for their efforts in never wavering in their goal to gain the best possible agreement at a time that public funding for the operation is problematic.”

Also praised was National Mediation Board mediator Walter Darr, “who guided the parties through interest-based bargaining, and whose and patience kept the parties moving towards an equitable settlement,” Babler said.