UTU general chairpersons on Nov. 2 served on railroads represented by the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC) the UTU’s intended amendments to agreements affecting rates of pay, rules and working conditions.

Such notices are required by Section 6 of the Railway Labor Act and are served on each other by parties to existing agreements.

The national rail contract between the UTU and railroads represented by the NCCC became amendable on Jan. 1, 2010.

The existing contract will remain in force until tentantively negotiated amendments are presented to UTU members and ratified under the craft autonomy provisions of the UTU Constitution.

During this round of national contract negotiations with the UTU, the NCCC will be the chief bargaining representative for BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, Soo Line, Union Pacific and numerous smaller railroads.

Other railroads, including Amtrak and U.S. operations of Canadian National, negotiate individually with the UTU.

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.

UTU International President Mike Futhey, who headed the UTU team that negotiated the most recent member-ratified amendments to the existing agreement, will lead the UTU negotiating team in this round of collective bargaining. Members of the negotiating team will be selected later in November.

Other rail labor unions will negotiate their own agreements with the NCCC.

Major elements of the UTU’s Section 6 notices include:

  • Complete and permanent elimination of existing service scale (entry rates of pay).
  • Complete and permanent elimination of the two-tier pay system.
  • A series of general wage increases, effective Jan. 1, 2010, and every six months thereafter.
  • Cost of living adjustments.
  • A crew calling window structure or no less than a 10-hour call.
  • A process to resolve fatigue issues relative to cross-craft utilization, inaccurate line-ups and manipulation of pool crew boards caused by paper deadheading and dropping of turns.
  • Compensation for certifying as a conductor (certification to be established by the FRA as directed by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008).
  • Peer related craft pay for training periods.
  • Carriers to give first employment consideration to qualified conductors furloughed from other railroads.
  • Furloughed employees called back to work will be guaranteed a minimum of 60 days of work and pay.
  • Increased meal allowances.
  • Restrictions on transferring, consolidating, combining or centralizing yardmaster assignments.
  • Establishment of a formula for yardmaster extra boards.
  • Enhanced benefits under the NRC/UTU Health and Welfare Plan and the Railroad Employees’ National Health and Welfare Plan (GA-23000).

UTU Section 6 notices were developed beginning with recommendations offered by UTU members.

A committee of general chairpersons from the Association of General Chairpersons, District 1, reviewed and fine-tuned those suggestions, which were then approved by the entire Association of General Chairpersons, District 1.

To view the UTU Section 6 notice, click here.

To view the carriers’ Section 6 notice, click here.

By Vic Baffoni
Vice president, Bus Department

Negotiations are underway on UTU’s largest bus property, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA).

The UTU negotiating committee, headed by General Chairperson James A. Williams, exchanged contract proposals March 19 with the LACMTA negotiating team.

The first negotiating session was held April 9, and dates have been set for additional meetings. The current contract expires June 30.

A difficult financial climate in California will be an important factor in negotiations.

UTU goals include the closing of wage tiers, protecting current work rules, and preserving of one of the transit industry’s finest health-care and pension packages.

Affected UTU members were sent a comparison of the proposals, with the general committee pledging to protect the members and their families. 

By Vice Baffoni
Vice President, Bus Dept.

Congratulations to Community Transit General Chairperson Calvin Studivant in Newark, N.J., whose members in Local 759 ratified a new contract providing an across-the-board wage increase, an extra holiday with pay, an increase in vacation pay and pension benefits, and no givebacks.

Assisting in the bargaining were Local 759 President David Deleon, Local Chairperson John Bladek, Secretary Antonio Ortiz, and Legislative Rep. Kaleem Muhammad. Assisting in the successful bargaining was New Jersey State Legislative Director Dan O’Connell.

Take note that all UTU locals are in the election cycle. I strongly encourage any member who wishes to serve the members to run for office.

Those who run for office must recognize that they have an obligation to know what their responsibilities to the membership will be, and understand that they must be prepared to sacrifice regarding their personal life.

A union office is much more than a title. It is serving the membership, knowing it is often without compensation, or even a thank you. True union leaders are rewarded by the knowledge that they are serving their membership to the best of their ability.

The UTU is blessed in having countless dedicated men and women who serve their membership in an exemplary manner.

When you, as a member, vote for your local officers, please remember to consider and vote for those individuals who have demonstrated dedication, integrity and a record of serving the membership.

If you elect individuals of this caliber, you will elect a team of officers that will always put you and your brother and sister members first – and that strengthens your local. Have a happy Thanksgiving.

Brothers and Sisters:

Meetings are underway across the country to explain our tentative national rail agreement and provide members the opportunity to ask questions. Check with your local officers, general chairperson or state legislative director if you have not been notified of a meeting near you.

A listing of meetings also is provided on the home page at www.utu.org.

A voting package will be mailed by mid-May to members eligible to vote on the national agreement. A notice will be posted at www.utu.org when the packages — with voting instructions, the complete agreement, and questions and answers — are mailed. Voting will be via telephone and conducted by the American Arbitration Association.

In the meantime, information on the agreement is available on the UTU Web page, at www.utu.org, under a special link, “Railroad Contract Negotiations Update.”

Our tentative agreement improves on the pattern settlement, and general committees of adjustment still will be able to gain additional improvements on local issues.

Does the tentative national agreement provide everything we want? No. But the bottom line is that we can’t do better than we have achieved with this national agreement — but we could do worse.

Those of us who suffered through PEB 219 in 1991 recall what happened when we struck the railroads and Congress imposed the PEB recommendations.

Even though the House of Representatives was controlled by Democrats, Congress ended the strike within hours. The legislation forced on us the PEB 219 recommendations, which resulted in two-person crews and elimination of the fireman-helper.

The recommendations of PEB 219 were the final nail in the coffin eliminating brakemen and firemen-helpers — the nails and coffin provided by the carriers and the hammer by the first President Bush in selecting the members of PEB 219.

If we reject this agreement, we can expect that the improvements we gained over the pattern settlement would be dead-on-arrival at a Bush-appointed PEB.

That would mean we would lose the ability to keep the entry-rate issue on the table and correct it through arbitration, lose the higher meal allowance, lose the COLA, and lose a provision unique to our agreement that returns to us any health-care insurance-premium savings should Congress enact public-funding of health-care.

Additional items

When you receive your May issue of UTU News in mid-May, we call your attention to four items:

  • The UTU budget is published, which delegates instructed us to do at the quadrennial convention last August.
  • There is an article on two of our younger leaders — Billy Moye and Carlos Wallace — who recently completed a course at the National Labor College in organizing strategies, which included principles of labor law, communication skills and fact-finding. Brothers Moye and Wallace will be taking those skills into the workplace to infuse in new members a full appreciation of what unions accomplish for members.
  • A feature continues that spotlights three UTU headquarters employees each month.
  • Another continuing feature spotlights two UTU designated legal counsel each month — skilled and experienced attorneys who understand the railroad industry, its safety hazards and every aspect of the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). Our designated legal counsel are chosen for their special knowledge and experience, and their job is to represent you if you are injured on the job.

Please take note that on the UTU Website, at www.utu.org, under the link for “Meetings,” there is complete registration information for our regional meetings in Denver and Nashville. Those meetings focus on education and interaction among members.

A highlight of this year’s regional meetings will be a presentation by Professor Jim McDonnell on labor history and the role of labor unions in creating a middle-class in America. As Professor McDonnell advises, labor cannot build for the future without fully understanding its past struggles, defeats and victories.

At UTU headquarters in Cleveland, we have been realigning jobs to make member services more efficient and cost effective — and without hurting any of our dedicated employees who are ably and proudly represented by the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU).

Finally, the 2008 annual sales meeting of the United Transportation Union Insurance Association will be held April 27-29 — the one annual event dedicated to training and educating our field supervisors and assistant field supervisors. It is a forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences related to existing and new UTUIA products and services.

In solidarity,

Mike Futhey, International President


Arty Martin, Assistant President


Kim Thompson, General Secretary & Treasurer