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.

Some 430 UTU represented conductors and brakemen employed by Canadian National properties Wisconsin Central; Duluth, Winnipeg & Pacific  (DW&P); and Duluth Missabe and Iron Range (DM&IR) have ratified an implementing agreement — effective Jan. 1 — consolidating the three properties under a single agreement.

The new agreement provides for four stand-alone general committees under the jurisdiction of one general committee – with General Chairpersons Matt Koski (DW&P, GO 325), Steve Haus (DM&IR, GO 315) and Saint W. J. Laurent (DM&IR, GO 321) merging with General Chairperson Ken Flashberger (WC, GO 987).

“The merger reduces the administration costs associated with four general committees,” said UTU International Vice President John Babler, who assisted with negotiations. “The implementing agreement satisfied both New York Dock, Article 1, Section 4, merger conditions and the parties’ Railway Labor Act Section 6 notices.”

Also provided by the agreement are general wage increases, additional personal leave days, up to eight new extra board positions, a reduction in the number of years to qualify for additional weeks of vacation, a new bid rule and prior-rights zones.

Additionally, the new agreement provides terminal protection for DW&P and DM&IR trainmen, preserves no-furlough clauses on each former property, reduces call windows to four hours, guarantees consecutive days off for extra boards and pools, and establishes an order of call when the extra board is exhausted.

“General Chairpersons Flashberger, Koski, Haus and Laurent played key roles in the negotiations, each recognizing the value of a negotiated settlement, and came to the negotiations fully versed on their respective agreements,” Babler said. “They came prepared to make the tough choices that would best suit their members’ needs in the short-term and long-term. The also did a remarkable job holding town hall meetings to inform members about the implementing agreement,” Babler said.