Archive for the ‘National Rail Contract’ Category

Texas court rules that SMART-TD has to negotiate crew consist

A federal court in Texas ruled in favor of rail carriers this week, directing the SMART Transportation Division to negotiate over crew-consist without regard to moratoriums barring such negotiation.

U.S. District Court Judge Mark T. Pittman, a January 2019 Trump appointee, issued his ruling on February 10, 2020.

The case was filed Oct. 3, 2019, by BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Grand Trunk Western, Norfolk Southern, Illinois Central, Union Pacific, and the Belt Railway Company of Chicago asserting that the moratoriums in the various crew-consist agreements did not bar the carriers from reopening crew consist.

The judge, following the carriers’ arguments and ignoring any counter by the union, found that any dispute over whether the moratoriums barred reopening was a minor dispute, then nonsensically concluded that the union would have to negotiate while arbitrating over whether the union even had to negotiate in the first place.

“Unfortunately, this decision comes as no surprise. The court ignored the provisions of the RLA,” SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson said. “The judge sided with the carriers on every issue, not even recognizing our arguments or providing any real analysis. It is simply infuriating.”

Carriers are attempting to replace one of the crew members in the cab of the train with technology and to establish one-person operations. The crew-consist agreements that have been negotiated by the SMART-TD and its predecessor unions over many years stand in the way but are being undermined by this and other actions.

“As a group we are going to work together to correct the course that this ruling has put us on,” Ferguson said.

SMART-TD filed an appeal with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, La., on February 12, the day after the judge’s ruling was released.

In a related matter, the National Railway Labor Conference (NRLC), which represents the carriers, has requested that the National Mediation Board (NMB) appoint an arbitration board member to force a single arbitration over the more than two dozen crew-consist agreements that have been negotiated locally by various General Committees.

SMART-TD, and nearly two dozen of its GCs, have sued the NMB challenging the Republican members’ 2-1 decision granting the carriers’ request to appoint an arbitrator.

Judge Pittman’s ruling is available for review here.

SMART-TD files suit challenging NMB’s decision regarding crew consist

On January 23, 2020, SMART Transportation Division and nearly two dozen General Committees brought suit against the National Mediation Board (NMB) challenging its 2-1 decision which granted a National Railway Labor Conference (NRLC) request to appoint an arbitration board member concerning crew-consist moratoriums in local agreements. The NRLC acts as the representative of the carriers.

The carriers, through the NRLC, took the position that the moratoriums do not bar service of Section 6 bargaining notices regarding crew consist and urged the NMB, through a little-used provision of the Railway Labor Act (RLA) that allows the NMB to appoint a board member to an arbitration panel, to appoint a SMART-TD member to an arbitration board.

The SMART-TD rejected earlier attempts by the carriers to arbitrate the moratorium issue, noting that the language clearly bars any bargaining over crew consist and, moreover, that such matters can only be handled locally. Despite the organization’s numerous arguments that such action was clearly improper, the NMB’s majority, along party lines, named TD President Jeremy R. Ferguson as the union member of the board.

Through this action, the carriers are trying to force a single arbitration over more than two dozen crew-consist agreements that have been locally negotiated by the various General Committees.

According to the suit, “The NMB has unlawfully and without authority initiated an arbitration process involving the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers -Transportation Division (“SMART-TD”) and multiple rail carriers, contrary to the provisions of the RLA.”

The NMB majority consisted of Kyle Fortson and Gerald Fauth, Republican appointees of President Donald Trump. Chairwoman Linda Puchala dissented in the decision.

Puchala, in her dissent, said the decision by the two other board members circumvents decades of RLA precedent in how these disputes are handled.

SMART-TD announces national bargaining team and dates

NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio — The team negotiating the next National Rail Contract which will affect more than 40,000 SMART Transportation Division members has been finalized by the union’s leadership.

The team will be led by TD President Jeremy Ferguson with the assistance of Vice Presidents Brent Leonard; John J. Whitaker III; Chadrick Adams; Jamie C. Modesitt; Joe M. Lopez and David B. Wier Jr.

Also part of the team are five General Chairpersons, Mike LaPresta (BNSF); Gary Crest (Union Pacific); Roger Crawford (Illinois Central); Thomas Gholson (Norfolk Southern) and Christopher Bartz (yardmasters).

“We are prepared to do whatever it takes to get the most out of this round of national contract talks,” President Ferguson said. “It will be a challenging process and it could be quite contentious at times. However, we on the negotiating team are confident that as we work through the process we can achieve a positive result.”

The opening meeting of negotiations is scheduled for February 26 and 27 in Washington, D.C., with talks occurring in Cleveland, Omaha, Washington, D.C. and Chicago, as the year progresses.

SMART-TD is part of a Coordinated Bargaining Coalition that consists of it and nine other unions representing rail labor. Carriers BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Canadian National, Norfolk Southern, Soo Line, Union Pacific and numerous smaller railroads are represented by the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC) during negotiations.

In related news, CSXT will not be part of national bargaining, except for health and welfare issues. For the wages and rules portion, SMART-TD and CSX have agreed to begin bargaining locally on behalf of trainmen starting Jan. 21, 2020.

A joint meeting for the negotiating parties regarding facilitated bargaining is scheduled in Jacksonville, Fla., on January 22 and 23.

Additional meeting dates for these negotiations are currently under discussion, and a tentative schedule will be set in the near future. Neither the SMART-TD nor CSX have exchanged any proposals, and an agenda for the subjects to be discussed during these contract talks, which are separate from the National Rail Contract negotiations, has yet to be finalized.

SMART-TD serves Section 6 notice on carriers

On November 20, SMART Transportation Division (SMART-TD) General Chairpersons served on railroads represented by the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC) the SMART-TD’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 to reopen agreements. With this notice to the NCCC, and the NCCC’s earlier notice, the parties are set to begin the next round of bargaining.

While the national rail contract between the SMART-TD and railroads represented by the NCCC becomes amendable on January 1, 2020, the existing contract will remain in force until it is amended and ratified by SMART-TD members under the craft autonomy provisions of the SMART Constitution’s Article Twenty-One B (21B).

During this round of national contract negotiations with the SMART-TD, the NCCC will be the chief bargaining representative for matters pertaining to rates of pay, rules, and working conditions on behalf of BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Canadian National, Norfolk Southern, Soo Line, Union Pacific and numerous smaller railroads. Other railroads, including Amtrak, negotiate individually with the SMART-TD.

More than 40,000 SMART-TD members are affected by these national contract talks with the NCCC, and the resulting agreements frequently set patterns for other negotiated rail agreements.

SMART-TD President Jeremy R. Ferguson will lead the SMART-TD negotiating team. Members of the negotiating team will be selected early next month.

As noted in a press release on November 1, 2019, the SMART-TD will be joining with nine (9) other rail labor organizations who are participating in coordinated bargaining in this round of national negotiations.

Major elements of the SMART-TD’s Section 6 notices include:

  • Complete and permanent elimination of existing service scale (entry rates of pay);
  • A series of general wage increases, effective Jan. 1, 2020, and every six months thereafter;
  • Cost of living adjustments;
  • Shift- and weekend-differential pay;
  • Paid sick leave for all crafts, without censure or discipline;
  • Technology pay for daily required utilization of all in-cab and handheld reporting devices;
  • Additional rest opportunities and ability to miss work for family needs, quality of life, and doctor visits;
  • Additional training pay for all crafts, including compensation for qualification, re-qualification, and familiarization trips;
  • 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; and
  • Enhanced benefits under the NRC/UTU Health and Welfare Plan and the Railroad Employees’ National Health and Welfare Plan (GA-23000).

SMART-TD Section 6 notices were developed beginning with recommendations offered by SMART-TD members. A committee of general chairpersons from the Association of General Chairpersons, District No. 1, reviewed and fine-tuned those suggestions, which were then approved by the entire Association of General Chairpersons, District 1.

To view the SMART-TD Section 6 notice, click here:
https://static.smart-union.org/worksite/PDFs/2019+National+Rail+Contract/112019+–+Section+6+Notice.pdf

To view the carriers’ Section 6 notice, click here:
https://static.smart-union.org/worksite/PDFs/2019+National+Rail+Contract/110119+–+NCCC+Section+6+Notice+-+SMART+TD.pdf

TD President Ferguson announces receipt of carriers’ Section 6 notice

To SMART TD members whose carriers are in national handling:

Pursuant to the moratorium provision in the last national agreement, today was the first day the carriers were permitted to serve notice to open the next round of National Bargaining and negotiate a new agreement, and they have accordingly served us this morning.

As TD President, I wanted to let you know that we will be reviewing the carriers’ notice over the weekend. We will be responding to the carriers with our own Section 6 notice early next week. Our notice has been crafted and refined by our District 1 Rail General Chairpersons and the Section 6 committee awaiting the time to serve.

The carriers’ notice is linked for your review. The contents of their notice should not come as a surprise given the recent lawsuit filed regarding our crew-consist moratoriums. As usual, their notice contains unrealistic expectations of the outcome that they hope to achieve.

We will proudly be going into this national round of negotiations in solidarity not only with the BLET once again, but with an unprecedented group that includes the American Train Dispatchers Association, Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, International Association of Machinists, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, National Conference of Firemen & Oilers/SEIU, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Transport Workers Union of America, and the Transportation Communications Union. I look forward to standing shoulder to shoulder with BLET National President Dennis Pierce and the leadership of the other unions in our Coordinated Bargaining Coalition as we move ahead in this process.

 

In solidarity,

 

 

 

Jeremy R. Ferguson
President — Transportation Division

Rail union chiefs announce formation of Coordinated Bargaining Coalition

CLEVELAND, Ohio and WASHINGTON, D.C., (November 1, 2019) — Top leaders of 10 rail unions announced today that their organizations will be participating in coordinated bargaining in the round of national negotiations that began on Nov. 1, 2019. The unions comprising the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition are:

  • American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA)
  • Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen / Teamsters Rail Conference (BLET)
  • Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS)
  • International Association of Machinists (IAM)
  • International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB)
  • National Conference of Firemen & Oilers/SEIU (NCFO)
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)
  • Transport Workers Union of America (TWU)
  • Transportation Communications Union / IAM (TCU)
  • Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART TD)
  • The following statement was jointly issued by ATDA President Leo McCann, BLET National President Dennis Pierce, BRS President Jerry Boles, IAM General Vice President – Transportation Sito Pantoja, IBB Director of Railroad Lodge Services John Mansker, IBEW Railroad Department Director Bill Bohne, NCFO President John Thacker, SMART TD President Jeremy Ferguson, TWU Railroad Division Director John Feltz, and TCU National President Bob Scardelletti:

    “We are pleased to announce the creation of the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition as we are on the threshold of the most critical round of national bargaining in a generation. Our Coalition is founded on two key values that we all share. One is that we understand the importance of each Union’s autonomy to pursue membership-specific goals within a framework of broad solidarity to defend and improve the wages, benefits and working conditions of our members. The other is that we will spare no effort to defeat the attack by the railroads on the very foundation of our members’ economic security.”

    Jointly, the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition 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.

Update on the facts of the crew consist lawsuit from President Ferguson

Brothers and sisters of the SMART Transportation Division,

I wanted to take this opportunity to explain what the crew consist lawsuit that has been filed in federal court in Texas is about. From the questions we have received, it appears that there is some confusion.

The lawsuit, filed on October 3, 2019, by BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Grand Trunk Western, Norfolk Southern, Illinois Central, Union Pacific, and the Belt Railway Company of Chicago, attempts to challenge the crew consist moratoriums of various local agreements and force the Organization to bargain over crew consist on a national level in this upcoming round of national negotiations. As a bit of background, when the crew consist agreements were negotiated, the carriers agreed to a “moratorium” on negotiating over this topic. Under the Railway Labor Act, a moratorium serves to bar negotiations over topics for a defined period of time. The carrier is now insisting that we arbitrate the meaning of the moratorium provisions.

This is not the first time that the carriers have attempted to challenge the crew consist agreements they have entered into over the years. It seems that in each round of bargaining they raise this issue anew. And in each round, they have lost the argument. Although we have not yet been served with the lawsuit, we are ready to defend our agreements.

Interestingly, the lawsuit was filed on the same day we were holding the Association of General Chairpersons District 1 meeting. When notified of the suit, all 56 General Chairpersons, without exception, pledged to act in solidarity as we embark on the upcoming round of National Railroad contract talks. The signing of the resolution is but one example of the inseparability that we will exhibit going forward as we negotiate.

I have attached the lawsuit for your review, and I will keep you apprised as matters develop. With all the various media avenues that can be full of misinformation, I feel that it is extremely important that our members be aware of the facts of the situation.

In solidarity,

 

 

 

 

Jeremy Ferguson
President — Transportation Division

SMART TD General Chairpersons resolve to act in solidarity in face of negotiations, lawsuit

SMART Transportation Division officers and attendees of the Association of General Chairpersons — District 1 conference stand together at the conclusion of the meeting on Oct. 3.

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Hours after a lawsuit by rail carriers targeting our union over crew consist was announced Oct. 3, the Association of General Chairpersons — District 1 unanimously resolved to act in solidarity.

The resolution states:

“In response to the Carriers’ attempts to undermine bargaining and divide us, we, the members of District 1, resolve to act in solidarity in every effort to protect our members and our rights under the Railway Labor Act.”

Every general chairperson in attendance signed the resolution as the meeting concluded.

Transportation Division President Jeremy Ferguson praised the leadership of the General Committees for a quick and unified response at the conclusion of the District 1 conference in the Cleveland area that also finalized the Section 6 notices that will trigger the beginning of the next round of National Rail Contract negotiations.

“As we progress forward into this negotiating period and beyond, solidarity among our membership at all levels everywhere will drive us as we overcome the challenges ahead,” Ferguson said. “This unanimous resolution shows at the outset that we stand together and will speak with one loud, clear voice.”

On Oct. 3, the National Railway Labor Conference (NRLC) filed a lawsuit in federal district court in the Northern District of Texas.

President Ferguson stated that this attempt to undermine our collective bargaining agreements was not unexpected.

“It is not the first time that carriers have attempted this tactic,” he said. “We are well prepared to respond.”

TD ready to respond as carriers once again attack crew consist

NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio (October 3, 2019) — Today, the nation’s Class I rail carriers, along with a few other railroads, filed suit in federal district court in the Northern District of Texas in an attempt to undermine our collective bargaining agreements as well as the bargaining process under the Railway Labor Act.

The suit, filed just ahead of the beginning of the next round of national handling scheduled to begin with the Section 6 notice filing November 1, asserts that the carriers’ position that “the existing moratoriums do not bar their crew-consist-related proposals” is a minor dispute subject to arbitration.

As detailed in their complaint, this is not the first time that the rail carriers have attempted an attack on crew consist. SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy Ferguson, noting the carriers’ history of unsuccessful attacks on crew consist, stated, “this latest attempt is nothing new, and it will once again be met with a vigorous defense.”

The suit, denoted as BNSF Railway et al, v, Internat’l Assn. of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers—Transportation Division, has not yet been served on the SMART Transportation Division.

This article will be updated.

Reminder: Section 6 proposals due by Sept. 30

ATTENTION: All SMART Transportation Division members employed by rail carriers negotiating under the umbrella of the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC).

As you are likely aware, on August 16, 2019, the SMART Transportation Division began the process of formulating Section 6 notices to be served on rail carriers represented by the NCCC, which will include proposals to increase wages, benefits and improve working conditions. In our communications, all officers and members were invited to submit proposals for the Section 6 notices to the SMART TD headquarters.

For those members who have already submitted proposals, we thank you for providing your invaluable input.

Members who have not yet responded are reminded that proposals are being cataloged through the month of September, and in October a committee of general chairpersons from the Association of General Chairpersons, District No. 1, will review the proposals and begin to fine-tune those suggestions into the notices to be served on the carriers.

In order for your proposal to be cataloged and considered by the Section 6 review committee, your proposal must be received in the Transportation Division office by September 30, 2019.

As a reminder, members may submit their proposals by email (preferred), fax or U.S. Mail:

Email – Section6@smart-union.org
Fax – (216) 228-5755,

or by writing to the attention of the SMART Transportation Division President at

24950 Country Club Blvd. Suite 340
North Olmsted OH 44070

Following this review process, the full Association of General Chairpersons, District No. 1, will be convened to review and finalize the union’s Section 6 notices. Soon thereafter, the Section 6 notices will be reproduced and mailed to all U.S. general chairpersons for serving on the affected railroads on or about Nov. 1, 2019, with changes to become effective no earlier than Jan. 1, 2020.

In addition to membership submitted proposals, SMART Transportation Division will conduct a membership survey to help define the issues for prioritization during negotiations.

“All affected members will be kept informed regarding the Section 6 notices and developments in negotiations, when possible, through the SMART Transportation Division News and the SMART TD website,” said Transportation Division President John Previsich.

The serving of the Section 6 notices is the first step in reaching a new national agreement with railroads represented by the NCCC. The carriers represented by the NCCC also have been working on their own wage and rule notices that they will serve at or about the same time the SMART-TD notices are served.

Under the Railway Labor Act, the current national agreement between SMART TD and NCCC will remain in effect until a new agreement is reached.

Seeking proposals for Section 6 notices

The SMART Transportation Division is beginning the process of formulating Section 6 notices to be served on rail carriers negotiating under the umbrella of the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC), which will include proposals to increase wages, benefits and improve working conditions.

As mandated by the Railway Labor Act and the current national agreement, these Section 6 notices will be served on most of the nation’s rail carriers on or about Nov. 1, 2019, with changes to become effective no earlier than Jan. 1, 2020.

The serving of the Section 6 notices is the first step in reaching a new national agreement with railroads represented by the NCCC. The carriers represented by the NCCC also have been working on their own wage and rule notices that they will serve at or about the same time the SMART TD notices are served.

All officers and members are invited to submit proposals for the Section 6 notices to the SMART TD headquarters. In addition, SMART Transportation Division will conduct a membership survey to help define the issues for prioritization during negotiations.

Members may submit their proposals by email (preferred), fax or U.S. Mail:

Email – Section6@smart-union.org

Fax – (216) 228-5755

or by writing to the attention of the SMART Transportation Division President at:

24950 Country Club Blvd., Suite 340
North Olmsted OH 44070

The proposals submitted by members will be catalogued during the months of August and September. In October, a committee of general chairpersons from the Association of General Chairpersons, District No. 1, will review the proposals submitted and begin to fine-tune those suggestions into the notices to be served on the carriers.

The full Association of General Chairpersons, District No. 1, will then be convened to review and finalize the union’s Section 6 notices. Soon thereafter, the Section 6 notices will be reproduced and mailed to all U.S. general chairpersons for serving on the affected railroads on or about Nov. 1.

“All affected members will be kept informed regarding the Section 6 notices and developments in negotiations, when possible, through the SMART Transportation Division News and the SMART TD website,” said Transportation Division President John Previsich.

Under the Railway Labor Act, the current national agreement between SMART TD and NCCC will remain in effect until a new agreement is reached.

TD Hollywood, Fla., Regional Meeting, Day 3: Previsich talks contract, cross-border crews at final session

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich foresees a very different scenario when the next round of national rail negotiations starts in 2019, he told the audience at the closing session of the TD Regional Meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 8.

“When we entered into the last round, you’ll recall that the railroad business was down … the railroads were claiming they were losing money” Previsich said. “That situation is now entirely different.”

SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich responds to members' submitted questions during the closing session of the third and final day of the TD Regional Meeting at the Hilton Diplomat Resort in Hollywood, Fla., on Aug. 8.

SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich responds to members' submitted questions during the closing session of the third and final day of the TD Regional Meeting at the Hilton Diplomat Resort in Hollywood, Fla., on Aug. 8.

Carriers have been reaping record profits and increased revenue and received the gift of a corporate tax reduction from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed last year. But instead of reinvesting their gains in their infrastructure or rewarding their workforce, rail carriers have used it to buy back stocks to boost their share prices.

That means with the national rail agreement open for negotiations in late 2019, the carriers will not get to recycle the economic argument, Previsich said.

“We will not tolerate in negotiations any claim for lack of revenue, or for lack of available money to provide a decent increase to our membership in the face of record stock buybacks that enrich a select few,” Previsich said. “We won’t stand for it. It’s an important time, given the political climate, given the economic climate, that we now reap what we’ve earned.”

Previsich also touched upon the situation in Texas, where Kansas City Southern (KCS) started early last month the practice of allowing foreign rail crews to cross into the United States at the Laredo border crossing and travel nine miles into our country before replacing them with American workers.

“The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) thus far has taken absolutely no action to stop this practice,” Previsich said. “FRA has an obligation to ensure the safety of American workers and the American public. Their refusal to live up to that obligation is not acceptable. On this matter, FRA is allowing the railroads to self-regulate and self-certify without oversight.” He told attendees at the meeting that the union will do “anything and everything” to attack FRA’s lack of responsibility on the issue.

“We deem it to be unsafe, we deem it to be a threat to our jobs,” Previsich said. “We are not going to let them (FRA) stand aside while a Class I carrier allows foreign crews to cross the border and steal our jobs while jeopardizing the safety of our members and the general public.” He called for members to prepare to act to put the pressure on when and where it is needed.

“When that time comes, we’re going to let you know,” he said. “We want you to do everything you can to ensure that each and every member delivers a strong and powerful message to Washington.”