Posts Tagged ‘contract negotiations’

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 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 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.

Futhey administration: Year 1 report

Almost a year has passed since Mike Futhey, Arty Martin and Kim Thompson took office.

They ran on a platform of specific promises, including full disclosure. Following are Futhey administration promises and results, so far:

Promise #1: Restructure the International by reducing the number of International officers in Cleveland,and providing the most possible assistance to general committees, state boards and local officers.

Results: The vice president-administration duties were consolidated with those of the general secretary and treasurer (GS&T), and that vice president position was reassigned to the field. All full-time officers are assigned on a full-time basis and are required to make detailed and timely reports of their activities.

Communication with local officers was expanded, especially through visits to locals and general committees by the International president, assistant president, GS&T and International vice presidents.

Also, the UTU Alumni Association was restructured to provide greater interaction between the UTU International and retirees.

Promise #2: Automate more functions.

Results: The Information Technology Department has accelerated the conversion of critical data from an antiquated mainframe computer to modern operating systems.

Direct deposit of dues, DIPP and UTUIA insurance premiums was implemented on CSX and portions of UP, with other national- agreement carriers to be added in 2009.

Automation of billing and auditing is underway.

Also, the iLink platform was expanded for use by general committees and state boards, allowing improved and more rapid access. iLink will be directly accessible from the UTU Web site by Dec. 1.

Promise #3: Expand education opportunities.

Results: The computer-based UTU University was created, providing structured, self-teaching programs through iLink. Group instruction, to assist officers in getting started, is underway.

The awards database search engine is being improved.

Regional meeting workshops are being fine tuned to better meet member needs, especially for officers administering the National Labor Relations Act.

Promise #4: Grow and protect the International’s finances.

Results: UTU International funds have increased by $3.4 million — some 45 percent — to $11 million since Jan. 1. They are managed for the most effective return consistent with a conservative investment approach.

Also, organizing of unorganized airline, bus and rail properties has been accelerated.

Promise #5: Expand the Bus Department.

Results: More aggressive organizing is underway of bus properties in the Northeast and on the West Coast.

Also, regional meeting workshops were beefed up to provide greater understanding of labor laws affecting bus members.

Promise #6: Yardmaster commitment.

Results: While there no longer is a vice president of the Yardmaster Department, a yardmaster vice president position remains within the International headquarters to provide assistance as requested.

Promise #7: Airline commitment.

Results: In spite of the demise of Big Sky Airlines, the assistant president is assigned to search out the unorganized in the aviation industry. Discussions are underway on two airline properties, where employee interest in the UTU, based on the quality of representation at Big Sky, is strong.

Promise #8: Improve the ability and ease of researching controlling awards.

Results: iLink now provides better access to controlling awards, plus secure chat rooms for various levels of elected officers to exchange information and ideas.

Promise #9: Grow the UTU through the right merger with the right organization, and provide full transparency in the process.

Results: The UTU International is aggressively defending attempts by the SMWIA to force a merger in the face of a federal court decision that members were not provided information on conflicts between the two constitutions prior to casting ballots in 2007.

Promise #10: Improve member services.

Results: Leadership reports are posted to the UTU Web site for member inspection.

Meetings have been held regularly by senior International officers with general chairpersons and state legislative directors in an open-forum format.

A monthly UTU News feature introduces members to UTU employees, and explains what they do.

Promise #11: Engage in successful contract negotiations.

Results: A new national rail agreement bettered the pattern was negotiated in January, and was overwhelmingly ratified by the membership.

Arbitration on training and service-scale is scheduled to commence in early December.

Also, UTU International officers are available to assist general chairpersons, as requested, including providing assistance in negotiating individualized agreements to satisfy the new rail-safety bill’s changes to hours of service and limbo time.

Advice on complying with the FRA’s emergency ban on use of electronic devices in the cab has been posted on the UTU Web site.

Advice on how hours-of-service changes in the safety bill will affect members will be posted by Dec. 1. Those changes are not effective until July 2009.

Promise #12: Expand the legislative agenda and deliver on those promises.

Results: The UTU provided leadership in passage of the Rail Safety Improvement Act — the most sweeping safety reform in 30 years. Included is a provision permitting general chairpersons to sit down with carrier labor relations officers and negotiate a better balance between time off and earnings, while preserving guaranteed time off.

UTU efforts to elect Barack Obama and labor friendly lawmakers exceeded any effort ever mounted by a labor union.

The UTU will continue efforts to fix the commercial driver’s license problem, and will work with the AFL-CIO to identify qualified nominees for regulatory agency positions in the Obama administration.

“We have achieved solid gains in pursuing platform objectives,” said UTU International President Mike Futhey. “We are committed to building on the accomplishments of the first year, and identifying new objectives to serve the membership.”

We busted the pattern!

By Mike Futhey
UTU International President

Brothers and Sisters:

The tentative national agreement with BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific, which you will vote on soon, was hammered out in an intense two-day bargaining session Jan. 22-23 because the carriers recognized the unity the UTU brought to the negotiating table.

Equally important to the process was our return to interest-based bargaining, whereby both sides choose mutual problem solving to confrontation.

A year had gone by without a single meeting between the two sides, and the situation looked bleak. There were credible signals from the carriers that they intended to cash-in their Bush administration IOUs and move for a presidential emergency board (PEB) by spring. After all, the carriers had established a pattern, holding ratified agreements from most of the other labor organizations.

The carriers reasoned they could count on a carrier-friendly PEB to recommend that the pattern be forced on us. In an election year, with Congress not wanting a rail strike dumped in its lap, the odds were similarly high that lawmakers would quickly pass legislation ordering us back to work under the precise recommendations of the Bush-appointed PEB.

With that unhappy chain of events looming, I met with CSX CEO Michael Ward and made clear that the UTU’s intent was to craft a win-win agreement. We both agreed that a mutually negotiated settlement is preferable to one imposed by a third party – even if the carriers thought the White House is on their side. I asked Mr. Ward to relay our message to the other CEOs and the industry’s labor negotiators.

Our bargaining team reaffirmed our intent to reach a negotiated settlement when we sat down Jan. 22 with the carriers’ chief labor negotiators in Jacksonville, Fla. We were told that they and their CEOs had been reading our leadership messages on the UTU Web site, and sensed a more positive approach from the UTU — and they were prepared to respond in kind.

Before the sun set on the second day, we had that win-win agreement. The carriers acknowledged that prolonged warfare in Congress and before the federal courts was counterproductive.

The carriers agreed to go beyond the pattern. They offered the UTU — and only the UTU — a continuation of a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) during the period new agreements are being negotiated. The UTU also was the only union to achieve, in national negotiations, an increase in the meal allowance.

Also, the carriers agreed to provide full health-care insurance to new hires and their families after only one month, rather than four; and agreed to arbitrate the dispute over entry rates tied to training; and, for the first time, to make contributions to the yardmasters’ supplemental retiree medical insurance program.

We busted the pattern. But if we fail to ratify this agreement, we could lose it all — and more, because a PEB and Congress could embrace the carriers’ desire for one-person crews and elimination of the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA).

In the days ahead, we will be providing much more information on the tentative agreement, including answers to questions posed by general chairpersons. Please, stay informed. This agreement deserves ratification. The alternative is unthinkable.