The membership of the SMART Railroad, Mechanical and Engineering Department (SMART MD) has voted to ratify a tentative agreement with the carriers, after almost three years of negotiations between the union and the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC). The vote was passed with a 54% margin in favor of the negotiated contract.
The ratified contract includes historic wage increases, five annual service recognition payments, an additional paid day off and enhanced healthcare benefits. Members will immediately receive a 13.5% wage increase, and members will also receive retroactive pay and $3,000 in service recognition payments within 60 days.
“It was up to our members to decide whether to accept this agreement, and the members have made the decision to ratify a contract with the highest wage increases we have ever seen in national freight rail bargaining,” said Joseph Sellers, Jr., general president of SMART. “However, we hear the concerns of our members who may be disappointed in the outcome of this vote, and I promise that we will never stop fighting to ensure that they receive the wages, benefits and working conditions that they deserve for keeping the American economy running.”
While waiting for a response to our recent request to the National Mediation Board that a proffer of arbitration be issued by the Board to move our contract dispute to the next level, CBC unions participated in two additional days of mediated bargaining sessions with NCCC this week.
Once again, the nation’s class 1 rail carriers showed just how far removed they are from the realities that their employees and shippers are experiencing. Without regard for the beating that these rail carriers took in front of the Surface Transportation Board a week ago, and ignoring their continued record profit reports, the rail carriers continue to advance proposals at the bargaining table that they have previously been told are unacceptable to the CBC Unions and our members.
Due to the NCCC’s refusal to negotiate a fair agreement in good faith, all CBC Unions again request that the NMB proffer arbitration to the parties to stop the endless delays by the rail carriers.
As we advised in January and April, we had hoped that the involvement of the NMB would cause the industry to refocus on addressing the legitimate needs of the men and women whose labor generates their positive financial returns. That has not happened, and there is no indication that it will without allowing the remaining steps of the Railway Labor Act to play out to compel a favorable settlement.
The unions comprising the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition are: the American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA); the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen / Teamsters Rail Conference (BLET); the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS); the International Association of Machinists (IAM); the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB); the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers/SEIU (NCFO); the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU); the Transportation Communications Union / IAM (TCU), including TCU’s Brotherhood Railway Carmen Division (BRC); and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART–TD). Collectively, the CBC unions represent more than 105,000 railroad workers covered by the various organizations’ national agreements, and comprise over 80% of the workforce who will be impacted by this round of negotiations.
Independence, Ohio, October 5 — Rail Unions making up the Coordinated Bargaining Group (CBG) announced today that they have reached a Tentative National Agreement with the Nation’s Freight Rail Carriers. The CBG 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 (SMART TD).
On Wednesday, October 4th, the CBG’s full Negotiating Team met in Independence, Ohio for a review of the terms of the proposed voluntary agreement. Following that review, each of the CBG Unions’ Negotiating Teams unanimously endorsed the Tentative Agreement. On Thursday, October 5th, 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%, with an additional 2.5% six months later on July 1, 2018 and an additional 3% one year later on July 1, 2019. In addition, wage increases of 2% effective July 1, 2016 and another 2% effective July 1, 2017 will be fully retroactive through implementation, for a compounded increase of 9.84% over an 18-month period and 13.14% over the 5-year contract term (this includes the First General Wage Increase of 3% implemented on January 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 TA 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% 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 1/1/2020.
In addition, the CBG steadfastly refused to accept the carriers’ 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 CBG 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.”
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Collectively, the CBG unions represent more than 85,000 railroad workers covered by the various organizations’ national agreements, and comprise over 58% of the workforce that will be impacted by the outcome of the current bargaining round.
For immediate release July 7, 2017 As part of our ongoing effort to conclude national contract negotiations, the Coordinated Bargaining Group (CBG) met with the nation’s freight rail Carriers (NCCC) for three days during the week of June 26th. These efforts were part of our ongoing mediation process, mandated by the Railway Labor Act when the parties have been unable to reach a voluntary agreement, and managed by the National Mediation Board. Despite the CBG’s best efforts to reach a fair agreement with the NCCC, the mediation process took a step backwards on Thursday, June 29th, when the Carriers presented new, onerous bargaining positions. Their new contract demands would have the employees not only paying more per month towards their monthly insurance premiums, but would also make drastic changes in the amount the average employee pays when medical services are needed. Combined with the Carriers’ outlandish demands for this dramatic cost-shifting, they suggested we agree to below-standard General Wage Increases with no retroactivity, and, for certain crafts, harmful work rules changes that would have employees doing more work for less pay in many circumstances. It is clear from the Carrier’s latest contract demands that they are emboldened by the potential of management-friendly recommendations that could come from a Presidential Emergency Board appointed by President Trump, and ultimately be imposed on the employees by a Congress that already has enacted or is pushing for changes in longstanding labor laws that protect employee rights. We of course are frustrated by the Carriers’ hard-line attitude. But we will not let this stand in our way. In spite of this latest turn of events, the CBG will not give up its efforts to achieve a voluntary settlement that is fair and protects our members’ best interests. We therefore requested and have been granted additional mediation sessions later this month. This is not by any means the end of the road. The Railway Labor Act makes it the duty of both labor and management “to exert every reasonable effort to make agreements.” We take that obligation seriously. Be assured that we have been working very hard on your behalf and we will continue to pursue every available avenue to achieve a fair contract settlement worthy of your consideration. The Carrier’s latest offer is neither a fair settlement, nor a settlement that we expect our members would ratify. So that you all are fully aware of what has been proposed, and in an effort to bring all affected members up to speed, the Carrier’s latest proposal, with a brief synopsis, can be found at https://static.smart-union.org/worksite/ContractNeg/NCCC_2017-06-29_Synopsis_and_Proposal.pdf More information will be forthcoming after the mediation sessions scheduled later this month. We appreciate your continuing support. # # # The Coordinated 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. Collectively, the CBG unions represent more than 85,000 railroad workers covered by the various organizations’ national agreements, and comprise over 58% of the workforce that will be impacted by the outcome of the current bargaining round.
WASHINGTON — In the face of bipartisan get-tough-with-labor legislation introduced in the House and Senate, two of the remaining unions without national rail contracts agreed to a tentative settlement Dec. 1, and a third reached agreement with the carriers Dec. 1 to extend a cooling-off period into February.
With these agreements, the threat of a national railroad strike has been averted for now.
Previously, the Transportation Communications Union, the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen and the various shopcrafts, including the Sheet Metal Workers International Association, reached tentative six-year agreements with the National Carriers Conference Committee (NCCC). The NCCC represents BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, Soo Line, Union Pacific and numerous smaller railroads in national handling.
UTU members earlier ratified a five-year national rail contract.
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the American Train Dispatchers Association agreed Dec. 1 to a tentative six-year agreement as recommended last month by Presidential Emergency Board No. 243. References to the UTU’s ratified national rail contract are extensive in the PEB recommendations.
While the BLET is in national handling for health care, it previously reached ratified wage agreements with BNSF, CSX and Norfolk Southern for lower wage increases than the UTU and other organizations, and continues separate talks on wages with Union Pacific.
Also, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes reached agreement with the NCCC to extend into February a cooling-off period that was to expire Dec. 5.
The BLET and train dispatchers’ tentative agreements, and the cooling-off period extension agreed to by the BMWE Dec. 1, came in the face of separate House and Senate resolutions.
The House resolution, H.J. 91 and introduced by House Transportation & Infrastructure Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.), would have imposed as a final agreement on the BLET, the train dispatchers and the BMWE the PEB recommendations.
Separately, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was set to introduce for immediate Senate vote an identical resolution (S.J. 31). After the BLET, train dispatchers’ and BMWE agreements were announced late Dec. 1, Sen. Reid said:
“I applaud all the stakeholders who worked to avert a work stoppage that would have hurt our nation’s economy just as the holiday season gets underway. It is Congress’ constitutional duty to ensure the unfettered flow of interstate commerce, and to protect the nation’s economic well-being. I am pleased with this outcome and congratulate all sides, including the White House and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, for their effort to find common ground that protects our economy and keeps it on-track.”
The UTU International is receiving questions from members regarding recommendations of Presidential Emergency Board 243, which was created under provisions of the Railway Labor Act after talks between other rail unions and the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC) broke down.
In the wake of that PEB 243’s recommendations, the Brotherhood Railroad Signalmen, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the International Association of Boilermakers & Blacksmiths,the International Association of Machinists, the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers, the Sheet Metal Workers International Association, and the Transportation Communications Union, including its Carmen Division have reached a tentative agreement with the NCCC, which are said to “mirror exactly” the PEB’s recommendations.
The other rail unions have resumed negotiations with the NCCC to consider the PEB recommendations, as required by the Railway Labor Act.
References to the UTU’s ratified agreement are extensive in the PEB recommendations. Out of respect to the other organizations, an analysis of those findings will be provided our membership after the other organizations complete the negotiation process.
A 17 percent pay increase, retention of the $200 monthly cap on health care cost-sharing, FRA certification pay, a faster process for new hires to reach full pay rates, and no rollback of the January 2011 cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) highlight the new five-year national rail agreement negotiated between the UTU and the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC).
Railroads represented by the NCCC include BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific and many smaller railroads. Some 38,000 UTU members, including yardmasters, are covered by the tentative new agreement.
UTU District 1 general chairpersons voted unanimously June 2 to submit the tentative agreement to the membership for ratification under the craft autonomy provisions of the UTU constitution. The general chairpersons also voted unanimously to recommend ratification.
General chairpersons now have until June 20 to submit questions regarding details of the tentative agreement. The questions will be submitted to the NCCC for answers. The agreed-upon questions and answers will become part of the tentative contract submitted to the membership for ratification.
Additionally, forums will be scheduled nationwide at which UTU International officers will brief members on the contract’s details and respond to member questions. A ratification vote will later be scheduled.
“In the 41-year history of the UTU, this wage increase is the highest in excess of the current and projected consumer price index,” said UTU International President Mike Futhey. The Consumer Price Index, or CPI, is a barometer of prices for goods and services as measured by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Combined with the previous agreement this administration reached with the NCCC in January 2008, our members will realize a more than 40 percent increase in their base wages at the conclusion of this agreement, if it is ratified,” Futhey said. “A UTU member earning $80,000 in 2007 will be earning about $112,000 on the same job by 2015.”
The tentative agreement is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2010, and extends through Dec. 31, 2014. The contract provides that retroactive pay, commencing with the July 1, 2010, increase, will be made by the carriers within 60 days of the effective date of the final agreement.
The cap on employee health care cost contributions is a major provision of the tentative agreement. The $200 cap on monthly contributions compares with an average of more than $340 monthly paid by workers in other industries.
Without the negotiated $200 cap, and under provisions of current UTU agreements, UTU member health care cost contributions could soar to $355 monthly by 2015.
To retain the current $200 monthly cap, adjustments are made to copayments to reflect more economical ways to purchase medicines and reduce plan costs.
A new annual deductible is capped at $200 per individual ($400 per family), and an out-of-pocket maximum of $1,000 per individual ($2,000 per family) can be reached only if family medical costs exceed $40,000, which statistically affects only two percent of members.
The national rail agreement’s five-year entry rates provision has been amended to four years. Individuals under the five-year plan — as of May 1 and until the effective date of the final agreement — will receive a one-time $3,000 payment. Individuals on properties with modified service-scale rules will receive a one-time payment of $1,200. Individuals under entry-rate agreements that commence at 90 percent, and increase to 100 percent within two years, shall not receive a bonus payment.
Additionally, the tentative agreement provides that local agreements may be negotiated — not subject to binding arbitration if the sides cannot agree — for alternative compensation, compensated leave, compensation enhancement, and electronic bidding and bumping.
Yardmasters have essentially the same agreement, but with additional pay increases unique to their craft.
The UTU national negotiating team, in addition to Futhey, included Assistant President Arty Martin; National Legislative Director James Stem; UTU International Vice Presidents Robert Kerley and Delbert Strunk; and General Chairpersons John Lesniewski (CSX, GO 049), Pate King (NS, GO 680) and Doyle Turner (CSX, GO 347).
To read the tentative national agreements, select one of the links below:
A tentative new five-year national rail agreement covering wages, benefits and working conditions has been reached between the UTU and the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC).
The tentative agreement is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2010, and extends through Dec. 31, 2014.
The tentative agreement, which amends the existing national agreement, must be ratified by each affected UTU craft under the craft-autonomy provisions of the UTU Constitution. The existing national agreement remains in force under provisions of the Railway Labor Act.
Details of the tentative agreement are being withheld pending their presentation at a June 2 meeting of the Association of General Chairpersons – District 1. General chairpersons will then have 15 days to submit written questions. The questions and answers will be provided to all members prior to the ratification vote.
Railroads represented by the NCCC include BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific and many smaller railroads. Some 38,000 UTU members are affected by the tentative new agreement.
This is the first agreement reached in this round of national bargaining with the NCCC. It was reached, voluntarily, without need for mediation. However, two members of the National Mediation Board — Elizabeth Dougherty and Linda Puchala — served as facilitators during the two most recent rounds of talks between the UTU and the NCCC, leading to this tentative agreement.
UTU International President Mike Futhey thanked his negotiating team for “their hard work and long hours. I am confident our general chairpersons will react positively when the details of this agreement are presented to them.”
In addition to UTU lead negotiator Futhey, the negotiating team includes Assistant President Arty Martin; National Legislative Director James Stem; UTU International Vice Presidents Robert Kerley and Delbert Strunk; and General Chairpersons John Lesniewski (CSX, GO 049), Pate King (NS, GO 680) and Doyle Turner (CSX, GO 347).
Futhey also praised retired UTU General Secretary & Treasurer Dan Johnson for his emphasizing, early in the process and through a series of opinion articles published on the UTU website, the value of interest-based bargaining whereby both sides strive to understand the needs of the other.
“Interest-based bargaining worked well for the UTU in reaching a ratified national agreement in 2008, and interest-based bargaining was instrumental again this round in guiding both sides to a voluntary tentative agreement,” Futhey said.
Other labor organizations — bargaining as part of two separate coalitions — remain in negotiations with the NMB, and mediation has been invoked in those separate talks.
One coalition includes 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.
A second coalition still negotiating with the NCCC 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 UTU has asked a federal district court in East St. Louis, Ill., to rule, yet again, that the UTU has no obligation to bargain nationally over crew consist, or what the carriers now are terming, “staffing and consolidation.”
That same federal district court so ruled on March 10, 2006, after the railroads’ bargaining agent, the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC), demanded that the UTU negotiate, at the national level, that crew size be reduced. The carriers had sought, during the 2005 round of negotiations, to eliminate conductor and brakemen positions on all through-freight trains.
The UTU successfully contended that existing agreements relating to minimum train crew size are negotiated on a railroad-by-railroad basis through UTU general committees of adjustment, and any attempt by the carriers to change those agreements must be handled at the general committee level and not in so-called national handling where the major railroads coordinate their bargaining through the NCCC.
The court agreed in 2006.
But in serving on the UTU their latest intended amendments to agreements affecting rates of pay, rules and working conditions, the NCCC on Nov. 2 said it wants to “Explore opportunities for mutually beneficial alternatives to existing staffing models that enhance safety and productivity, fairly address employee interests and concerns, and recognize the unique opportunities still available to the parties to negotiate meaningful changes.”
Citing the March 10, 2006, decision of the federal district court, as well as similar court decisions dating to 1967, the UTU asked that yet another ruling be made that “crew consist or ‘staffing and consolidation’ is not subject to national handling” and that the court award the UTU its costs and attorney’s fees incurred in this proceeding, as well as “such other and further relief as the court deems just and proper.”
To keep current on this round of national handling, click on the “National Rail Contract” link at www.utu.org, where the so-called Section 6 notices of the UTU and the NCCC — intended amendments to agreements affecting rates of pay, benefits and working conditions — are also posted.
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.