Archive for the ‘National Rail Contract’ Category

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.”

2017 National Rail Agreement rate tables posted

The standard basic daily and mileage rates of pay negotiated under the new National Rail Agreement are now available on the SMART TD website.

The rate tables pertain to employees in the crafts of conductor, yardman, yardmaster, brakeman and engineer who are covered by the national contract and are retroactive to July 1, 2016.

The ratified contract covers more than 35,000 SMART Transportation Division members employed by BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, Soo Line, Union Pacific and numerous smaller carriers – all represented in national handling by the rail industry’s National Carriers’ Conference Committee.

To view the rates, select “Documents” in the blue-line menu bar near the top of the SMART TD homepage, then select “Rates of Pay.” For a direct link to the rate tables, follow this link.

SMART TD members ratify National Rail Agreement

By a margin of nearly four to one, SMART Transportation Division members have voted to APPROVE the new National Rail Contract. The voting was conducted by BallotPoint Election Services, who certified the following results for each craft eligible to vote:

CRAFT ACCEPT REJECT
Conductors 79.89% 20.11%
Brakemen 78.98% 21.02%
Engine Service 76.58% 23.42%
Yardmen 79.97% 20.03%
Yardmaster 86.68% 13.32%
Combined 79.57% 20.43%

The approved contract will have an effective date of December 1, 2017, with implementation of new pay rates and employee healthcare cost-sharing modifications planned for January 1, 2018. Employees’ monthly healthcare contributions will remain frozen at $228.89 for the life of the contract.

The term of the agreement is for five years, from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2019. In addition to a 3% increase previously negotiated and already implemented on January 1, 2015, the contract provides for full retroactive pay of 2% from July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017, and 4% from July 1, 2017, until implementation of the new rates. Thereafter, affected members will receive a boost in wage rates of 2.5% on July 1, 2018, and 3% on July 1, 2019.

The ratified contract will cover over 35,000 SMART TD members employed by BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern, Kansas City Southern, Union Pacific and numerous smaller carriers, all of whom were represented in this round of bargaining by the rail industry’s National Carriers’ Conference Committee.

The SMART TD negotiating team was led by President John Previsich, who was assisted in the negotiations by Vice Presidents David Wier, John Lesniewski, Troy Johnson, John England, Doyle Turner and Jeremy Ferguson, along with General Chairpersons Danny Young (BNSF), Mark Cook (NS), Brent Leonard (UP) and Steve Mavity (CSX), all four of whom are nationally elected TD officers in addition to serving as General Chairpersons.

For this round of bargaining, SMART TD joined forces with five other unions to form the Coordinated Bargaining Group. The other unions in the CBG are 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 and the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers/SEIU.

President Previsich commented: “I believe that our negotiating team, along with the teams from the other unions in the CBG, are to be commended for staying the course during a long and tedious round of negotiations. The easy thing for them to do when the going got tough was to declare defeat and walk away from the negotiating table, as others have done, but our team never wavered. By rejecting the carriers’ unreasonable demands while staying at the table and continuing to negotiate, the team was successful in obtaining an agreement that achieved an approval rate of 79.57%.”

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The SMART Transportation Division, formerly the United Transportation Union, is the largest rail union in the United States representing members in all operating crafts, including engineers, conductors, trainmen, switchmen and yardmasters.

Follow this link to view this release in PDF form.

NATIONAL CONTRACT UPDATE: Ballots are on their way to members

Members of SMART TD eligible to vote on the tentative National Rail Agreement will be receiving packets in the coming days, triggering the 21-day balloting period.

Balloting packets left a production facility in Michigan on Friday, which caps off a process that began Oct. 6 when the tentative agreement was reached.

Inside the packets, members will receive a bound agreement booklet, a letter from SMART TD President John Previsich, a letter from Union Pacific General Chairperson Brent Leonard and a synopsis of the tentative contract. Voting instructions included in the packet have a 12-digit access code for each member to use when casting their vote via telephone.

Heralding the arrival of the agreement is a Special Edition of the SMART TD News mailed Monday that contains comprehensive facts about the agreement, including information on wage increases and the health plan.

Balloting will continue through the month of November.

For an additional update from the Collective Bargaining Group, click here.

NATIONAL RAIL AGREEMENT: Update from Coordinated Bargaining Group

Coordinated Bargaining Group Update To All Members

For immediate release: November 10, 2017

As previously announced on October 6, 2017, the six Rail Unions comprising the Coordinated Bargaining Group (CBG) have reached a Tentative National Agreement with the Nation’s Freight Rail Carriers. As this Update goes to press, members of all CBG Unions have either received their ballots, or soon will. All members are encouraged to review the Tentative Agreement and compare those terms and conditions to the other options before us and participate in your future by casting your vote.

As additional information to help your review, on November 2, 2017, the United States Senate confirmed two Republican nominees to serve as members of the National Mediation Board. This three-person Board is now controlled by a Republican majority, and it is the Government Agency that manages the mediation process that all Rail Labor Unions are currently involved in, pursuant to the Railway Labor Act. The National Mediation Board, in concert with the White House, will determine when the parties have officially reached an impasse, and will manage any potential Presidential Emergency Board activities for those Unions and Rail Carriers that do not reach a voluntary settlement.

In addition, the Rail Unions of the CBG must again condemn the interference by the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees (BMWE) in our ratification processes. These unprecedented attacks have escalated to a series of false accusations against the CBG Unions, and are clearly intended to harm our ratification of the Tentative Agreement. These slanderous accusations are without merit and in direct response to the CBG’s refusal to embrace BMWE’s proposals to change the Health and Welfare plan. BMWE, having failed to reach a voluntary agreement and in fact having given up on further negotiations, is now seeking to place your work rules and health care on the table as leverage for their benefit at a Presidential Emergency Board and ultimately in front of the United States Congress.

Your negotiating team and the affected General Chairmen of the CBG Organizations have considered all options and determined, unanimously, that the health care scheme proposed by BMWE is not in the best interest of our members even if the railroads were agreeable to such a plan (and there is no indication that the railroads are acceptable to the scheme). The BMWE proposal is just a proposal, one that no Rail Union outside of the BMWE coalition has publicly agreed to endorse.  On the other hand, the agreement proposed by the CBG negotiators is real — it includes terms and conditions that protect our work rules, provides for minimal increases in health care that are more than offset by wage increases that are over twice the rate of inflation, with reasonable out-of-pocket maximums that protect our members from the impact of catastrophic medical events.

These are the facts; don’t be misled by any misrepresentations. We respect the right of any Organization to negotiate in the best interests of its members, and BMWE is certainly free to pursue any avenue it believes best, including denying their members the opportunity to vote on their future. But we also reject any Organization’s attempt to interfere in the sacred democratic process of those who have reached a voluntary agreement, especially when our elected representatives have unanimously endorsed the proposed agreement and have chosen to allow our members to cast a vote on their own future.

Refraining from attacking another Union in the performance of its negotiating obligations is a core principle of Trade Unionism. The Union interfering in your ratification process does not have the same exposure to significant work rules changes that you do and has publicly stated that it does not care if your work rules are eliminated. The leaders of that Union at the highest level have been repeatedly asked to stay out of our ratification process, and they have refused.

This is the opposite of true Brotherhood; don’t be conned by their anti-union activities. Take the time to understand all your options and the risks associated with each, and then be sure to participate by voting in your ratification process, a process that the interfering Union does not think you are entitled to.

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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.

 

To view this release in PDF form, click here.

Coordinated Bargaining Group condemns interference in its ratification process

On October 6, 2017, the six Rail Unions comprising the Coordinated Bargaining Group (CBG) announced that they had reached a Tentative National Agreement with the Nation’s Freight Rail Carriers. Shortly after that announcement, a Union belonging to a different bargaining coalition began a campaign of misinformation, misrepresentation and outright falsehood in an effort to disrupt and undermine the democratic ratification process of the CBG Unions. This anti-union activity has included public letters replete with falsehoods, leaflets at TY&E on-duty points, also filled with falsehoods, and a social media campaign intended to negatively influence the ratification process of the CBG Unions. We can no longer stand by and allow this anti-union interference and disruption to go unchecked.

Before the Section 6 Notices were filed in late 2014, the Union now interfering in our ratification process was invited to join together with all unions to bargain jointly. That Union rejected this invitation, and set out on its own as the smallest of the three coalitions in the bargaining round. Without informing the other ten Unions at the table, that smaller coalition offered the railroads its own version of Plan Design Change to the Health Care plan. In its public contract offer in the Spring of 2017, that group offered Plan Design Changes valued by their own math at over $200,000,000.00 to the Carriers. It was only after the railroads rejected this proposal, absent the buy in of the other ten Unions, that this smaller coalition offered to share its proposals with the CBG Unions.

Contrary to what that group would now have you believe, only one of the ten other Unions in negotiations were ever invited to join the smaller coalition, and to date not one of those ten other Unions has signed onto the smaller coalition’s version of Plan Design Change.

That smaller group now argues that their Plan Design Proposal would cost you nothing; that is not a proven fact. Here are the facts:

  1. The Union interfering in your ratification process does not have the support of 10 other Unions at the bargaining table and they couldn’t care less what any other Union thinks.
  2. The Union interfering in your ratification process does not have an agreement with the railroads to even compare to the CBG Tentative Agreement. Proposals are not Agreements.
  3. Due to its failure to obtain an agreement, the Union interfering in your ratification process has publicly declared to the National Mediation Board that they are at an impasse in negotiations and have no plans to bargain further.
  4. Instead, the Union interfering in your ratification process has publicly stated that it plans to put its Healthcare dispute before the Federal Government for resolution, knowing that the current Congress is one of the most Corporate owned, anti-labor, anti-healthcare, Federal Governments in years.
  5. The Union interfering in your ratification process made the decision to put its own membership at risk in this way without allowing them to have any say through a ratification vote.
  6. The Union interfering in your ratification process wants you to vote no and join it before the Federal Government, and it does not care if your wages, benefits and work rules are put at risk.

Refraining from attacking another Union in the performance of its negotiating obligations is a core principle of Trade Unionism. The Union interfering in your ratification process does not have the same exposure to significant work rules changes that you do and has publicly stated that it does not care if your work rules are eliminated. The leaders of that Union at the highest level have been repeatedly asked to stay out of our ratification process, and they have refused.

This is the opposite of true Brotherhood; don’t be conned by their anti-union activities. Take the time to understand all your options and the risks associated with each, and then be sure to participate by voting in your ratification process, a process that the interfering Union does not think you are entitled to.

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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.


To view this release in PDF form, click here.

National Negotiations update: Coordinated Bargaining Group unions reach tentative national contract agreement

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.


Click here for a pdf of this letter.

Click here for the Tentative Agreement.

National negotiations update: Coordinated Bargaining Group Unions say contract negotiations take a “step backwards”

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.

Negotiations update on the National Rail Contract

Previsich

Dear members,

On December 5, 2016, SMART Transportation Division issued a press release to announce that the unions participating in the Coordinated Bargaining Group (CBG) had requested that the National Mediation Board (NMB) mediate the group’s negotiations with the National Carriers Conference Committee (NCCC).

The decision to move the process forward with a request for mediation was made after our last negotiating session with the NCCC, when it became apparent that the prospect of reaching a voluntary agreement had grown significantly less likely, due in large part to the outcome of November’s elections. During negotiations, the organizations submitted a proposal that would provide the framework of an improved wage, work rule and benefit package that we believe our members have earned.

The carriers responded with an offer that was significantly less in every regard. Your negotiating team found the carriers’ demands for certain work rule changes unacceptable. In our opinion, these changes would compromise safety by creating a negative impact on rest and predictability. In addition, the carrier proposed unsatisfactory wage increases and dramatic cuts to our health care benefits, both of which were also unacceptable.

We have negotiated in good faith because we believe a voluntary agreement is in the best interests of our members and will continue to do so while in mediation. However, we stand firm in our conviction that our members deserve a better outcome than the carrier’s proposal and we will exhaust every avenue available to achieve a contract settlement with equitable compensation and benefit improvements that reflect the employees’ contributions to the carriers’ success. Additionally, we will not accept or propose a contract that adds to the already intolerable levels of unpredictability and rest deprivation that our members currently endure.

What’s next? The parties will engage in mediation as part of the dispute resolution process required by the Railway Labor Act. If a voluntary agreement is not reached in mediation, the process provides for a proffer of arbitration by the NMB, which, if refused by either participant, will then release the parties to engage in self-help (strike/lockout).

Moving through the Railway Labor Act to a strike is a long and arduous process, and requires that the parties exhaust every opportunity for settlement before a work stoppage disrupts the nation’s transportation system. However, the right to strike is a part of the process and the only person who can take away your right to strike is the President of the United States, who may intervene and appoint a Presidential Emergency Board.

In the event that we reach that point, I will be calling on all of our members to reach out to the White House and request that our newly elected President not interfere with our right to exercise self-help in our quest for a fair and equitable contract settlement.

To better explain the process that governs from this point forward, click on https://smart-union.org/td/washington/abridged-version-railway-labor-act/ to read an abridged version of a more detailed explanation of the Railway Labor Act.

Fraternally,

John Previsich
President, Transportation Division