A tentative four-year agreement covering flight attendants employed by Great Lakes Airlines and represented by UTU Local 40 has been negotiated with the carrier. The agreement has been circulated for ratification, with votes to be counted May 17.

The UTU represents some 300 flight attendants and pilots on this regional airline based in Cheyenne, Wyo., and with hubs in Albuquerque, N.M.; Billings, Mont.; Denver; Kansas City; Los Angeles; Milwaukee; and Phoenix.

The agreement provides for wage increases, a signing bonus, a per diem rate, a doubling of the sick-leave accrual rate, improvements to the uniform allowance and relocation expenses, and enhancements in working conditions.

Also negotiated is a significant improvement in the discipline rule, which would require the carrier to hold an investigation, issue a formal decision, respond to an appeal of the UTU, and hold a conference, if requested. An agency shop rule also is included in the tentative new agreement.

UTU International Vice President John Previsich, who assisted with the negotiations, praised the efforts of Local 40 officers “for doing a good job of polling the membership to identify the needs and desires of the workgroup and for attending every session fully prepared and ready to negotiate.

“They did their homework, knew the contract inside and out, and did thorough research on industry-standard pay and rule provisions,” Previsich said. “Their efforts were essential in obtaining such a favorable contract at a time when the country and the airline industry struggles in a very challenging economic and political climate.” Previsich also thanked UTU International Vice President Paul Tibbit for his participation and “wise counsel.”

The UTU continues to negotiate on behalf of Great Lakes pilots, with negotiating sessions scheduled for June and July.

Great Lakes Airlines serves 48 of its destinations through the Essential Air Service program and is the nation’s largest provider of Essential Air Service. Great Lakes Airlines operates 30-passenger Embraer aircraft and 19-passenger Beechcraft airplanes.

UTU-represented conductors and engineers on Iowa Northern Railway have ratified their first agreement covering wages, benefits and working conditions.

Iowa Northern T&E employees chose the UTU as their collective bargaining agent in November 2008.

The agreement was negotiated with the assistance of UTU Alternate Vice President Doyle Turner.

“We will continue to look for railroad and other unorganized transportation workers who want and need union representation,” Turner said. “We are trying hard to bring parity in wages, work rules and benefits to the unorganized.

“Among gains workers obtain with UTU representation include job security, a defined grievance procedure and discipline rules, a work schedule that enhances their quality of life, and a defined set of benefits and work rules,” Turner said. “These are benefits workers cherish and they won’t obtain them without joining a union.”

Iowa Northern, headquartered in Cedar Rapids, operates more than 160 miles of former Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific track, running diagonally through the state between Manly and Cedar Rapids, with a branch line between Waterloo and Oelwein.

It connects directly with Union Pacific, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific. The railroad, which moves almost 14,000 carloads of grain annually between elevators and production facilities, calls itself “a proud link in the chain from farmer to market.”

BUFFALO, N.Y. — School bus drivers employed by First Student here and represented by the UTU have ratified a new agreement by a 213-90 vote.

The agreement ratified by members of UTU Local 1908 provides for wage increases retroactive to June 2010, no loss of benefits and improvements to a 401k plan.

Calvin Studivant, alternate vice president — East for the UTU Bus Department, helped to negotiate the new agreement. He praised the efforts of the Local 1908 negotiating team that included Local General Chairperson Dale McClain, Vice Local Chairperson Debbie Orlowski and Local Secretary Geneva Crutcher.

BOSTON — UTU-represented conductors and assistant conductors on Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad (MBCR) have ratified a four-year agreement covering wages, benefits and working conditions.

The agreement is retroactive to July 2009, and may be reopened for amendment in July 2013 under provisions of the Railway Labor Act.

BLET-represented engineers on MBCR also ratified a new four-year agreement. The UTU and the BLET negotiated jointly to reach those separate craft agreements, with the expectation that a better agreement for each craft would result if negotiations were held jointly.

Included in the UTU amended agreement with MBCR are retroactive pay, a signing bonus, a 13.7 percent overall increase in wages by July 2013, certification pay for conductors, a cap on health care cost-sharing, and a provision that discipline records will not be retained beyond a maximum of 36 months (other than substance abuse violations, which are subject to record-keeping under federal law).

The agreement also includes an increase in compensation for release-time — from the decades-old 50 percent of the full-time rate to 62.5 percent.

UTU International Vice President John Previsich, who assisted with the negotiations, commended General Chairperson Roger Lenfest and Assistant General Chairperson Dirk Sampson (both, Amtrak, GO 769), along with Local 898 Chairperson Don Wheaton “for their participation in securing substantial improvements to wages and working conditions in today’s difficult economic environment.

“It is through their extraordinary efforts that the negotiating team was able to add groundbreaking enhancements such as conductor certification pay and increased pay for release time,” Previsich said.

The Transportation Communications Union and shopcrafts previously were released from mediation with MBCR by the National Mediation Board, but the sides have returned to the bargaining table.

MBCR, operated under contract by Veolia Transportation, transports more than 131,000 riders daily between Boston and outlying areas.

SPRING VALLEY, N.Y. — Members of UTU Local 153 here, employed as school bus drivers by Chestnut Ridge Transportation, have ratified a three-year wage, benefits and work rules agreement.

The agreement provides the drivers with wage increases retroactive to Sept. 1, 2010, improvements in personal leave-day policy, training pay, and bereavement leave. UTU negotiators blocked attempts by the carrier for concessions.

UTU International Vice President Rich Deiser, who assisted in negotiations, praised the efforts of Local 153 negotiators, who included General Chairperson Wilner Baptiste, President Frantz Fils-aime, Vice President Canez Francois, Treasurer Barbara McIntosh and Secretary Wilfred Hatch.

New York State Legislative Director Sam Nasca also assisted with negotiations.

UTU members employed by Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) have ratified two new four-year agreements affecting wages, benefits and working conditions.

Conductors, engineers, trainmen and yardmen ratified their tentative agreement by a 75 percent plurality, while Florida East Coast yardmasters represented by the UTU were unanimous in ratifying their new agreement.

Both agreements are retroactive to Jan. 1, 2009, extend through Dec. 31, 2012, and include retroactive pay.

UTU negotiators included General Chairperson John Hancock and Vice General Chairperson John Whitaker (both, GO 851), Local 903 Chairperson Jim Bush, and Local 1138 Chairperson Jim McCorkle. The UTU negotiating team was assisted by UTU International Vice President Robert Kerley.

Florida East Coast is a Class II, or regional, railroad, operating more than 350 miles of mainline track along Florida’s east coast. During 2010, the railroad completed 2,000 consecutive days of on-time service to UPS — a record for any transportation company serving the logistics giant. During that almost 5 1/2 year period, FEC delivered 125,000 on-time intermodal trailers and containers.

UTU Local 367 represented employees of Nebraska Central Railroad, which includes all crafts, have ratified a wage, rules and working conditions agreement with an 80 percent plurality.

The five-year agreement provides for a signing bonus, wage increases, a minimum-hours guarantee and improved working conditions.

Assisting Local 367 in the negotiations were UTU International Vice President John Previsich, Union Pacific General Chairperson Rich Draskovich and Union Pacific Vice General Chairperson Brent Leonard (both, GO 953).

The three praised the efforts of Local 367 Chairperson Brandon Glendy in determining member concerns prior to negotiations, and then assisting with negotiations and explaining to members the tentative agreement prior to its overwhelming ratification.

Nebraska Central Railroad operates entirely in Nebraska over 340 miles of former BNSF and Union Pacific track.

The local lost one of its members in June 2010 when 38-year-old conductor Jeffrey Scholl died in the collapse of a railroad bridge into the flood-swollen Elkhorn River. Two other members of Local 367 were injured in the bridge collapse.

SAN FRANCISCO — First Student school bus drivers here, represented by UTU Local 1741, have ratified a new wage and benefits agreement by a 72 percent majority.

“Our strategy was to keep negotiations limited to economics because the work rules in our contract are the standard by which most other school bus drivers measure their contracts — by any measure, one of the best contracts for school bus drivers in the country,” said General Chairperson Paul Stein. “Also, our health insurance benefits far exceed most San Francisco city workers.”

“Negotiators for the local were able to hold on to our health-insurance plan without premium increases,” Stein said. “We asked for wage increases for ourselves and a series of raises for the office staff and dispatchers that would bring them up to the level of the drivers. The increases we got for the staff was very nearly what was asked for, and was viewed by most as a victory.

“The unity of drivers and staff and the hard work of the members of the local committee who did the hands-on work of negotiations is a tribute to the abilities of working people willing to fight for what they deserve,” Stein said.

UTU Local 377 members — engineers, conductors and brakemen — employed by Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad have ratified a new five-year agreement by an almost 8-to-1 margin.

Balloting was by craft under provisions of the UTU constitution guaranteeing craft autonomy; and each of the crafts was solidly in favor of the agreement.

More than 90 percent of members cast ballots, which UTU International officials termed “outstanding and quite typical of Local 377’s membership.”

The newly ratified agreement provides for general wage increases, guaranteed extra boards, 401(k) plan enhancements, and personal incentive bonuses.

UTU General Chairperson John Lesniewski (GO 049), who led the negotiations, called the ratified agreement “a great contract in the best of times, and extraordinary during this lean economic climate.”

Lesniewski praised the efforts of his negotiating team, which included Vice General Chairperson Steven Mavity and Local 377 Chairperson Harry Mahaffey.

Lesniewski also thanked UTU International President Mike Futhey and GO 049 Vice General Chairperson Jeremy Ferguson “for their advice and support directed towards reaching this pact.”

Buffalo & Pittsburgh, acquired by holding company Genesee & Wyoming in 1988, is a 368-mile regional railroad serving western New York and western Pennsylvania, and connects with major railroads Canadian Pacific, CSX, and Norfolk Southern.

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.