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.
SEATTLE — SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich answered questions from members about the Janus decision, upcoming 2019 national rail labor contract negotiations and discussed new technological initiatives.
Transportation Division President John Previsich addresses the closing session of the SMART TD Regional Meeting in Seattle on July 4.
The Janus decision affects a handful of properties that have SMART TD representation, but leaves rail properties relatively unscathed for the time being, Previsich said.
“Our rail people, for the most part, don’t worry about it — yet,” he said. “The direct result of this decision will not directly affect anyone who works for BNSF, UP, CSX, NS, most of your short lines…”
Potentially one rail property and some bus properties could be affected by Janus, he said.
“Where we do have to worry is our operations that are operated by the public agency not under the Railway Labor Act — typically it’ll be a municipal bus company,” Previsich said. “We’ve had meetings with each and every property. They’ve already been contacted, they know what to do and we’ll go ahead and work our way through. ”
It’s those future attacks from anti-labor interests and court cases that we’ll have to be aware of in this era where all branches of government are stacked against labor, he said.
“They’re not done yet — we’re going to see more of it,” Previsich said. “Not only are both houses of Congress lined up against us, the White House is lined up against us and the Supreme Court is lined up against us.”
To fight back, union brothers and sisters, their friends, neighbors, families and others will need to vote and get the word out on issues important to the union, such as safety.
“Elections matter,” Previsich said.
Also regarding politics, a member asked about how the viewpoints of members who are more conservative would be addressed.
“We welcome a free and honest dialogue and discussion about a number of issues,” Previsich said. “But the one thing that we need to do, that we’re going to do and what we are going to continue to do is to educate our members about our issues.”
Some members may have strong feelings on conservative issues, but those issues need to be balanced with the impact it will have on their livelihood and their families, he said.
“Not everybody is going to vote the way I would like them to vote, I understand that,” Previsich said. “But what I do want, and I think what we all want, is for those votes to be educated votes. We want the people casting the ballots to know what the issues are.”
Also ahead, is the start of negotiations for a new national rail contract, which is up in 2019, with a number of details to be determined.
Previsich said that the joint negotiating tactics by unions that were successful in the last contract will be repeated at least at the outset of the new talks as the carriers offer up their resistance.
“Going into those negotiations, there are some things you can count on,” he said. “Number 1, they won’t want to give us any more money; Number 2, they’re going to want to attack our healthcare … they’re going to go after our workers. That’s standard, that happens every time.”
The labor side is well aware of the breaks the carriers got with the Republican tax plan that was passed in late 2018, and that will definitely be in play during contract talks, Previsich said.
“Our job this time is to get a better deal than we got last time. That’s what we’re looking for — that’s what we’re always looking for,” he said. “They can’t hide behind finances. Not only do they have record revenues and record profits, it’s record tax cuts, record givebacks, record stock buybacks…the economics are going to work in our favor this time around.”
A Section 6 filing to signal the start of negotiation will be filed in the future, he said.
SMART TD also is improving its technological base, Previsich said.
“One of the things we are trying to do is leverage the technology in a way that is going to improve communications that we have,” Previsich said.
Questions were submitted by members using the upgraded and improved SMART TD app. It can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or through Google or by visiting www.smart-union.org/td/mobile.
Also ahead are upgrades from the decades-old legacy system to help improve how local secretaries and treasurers do their jobs with a rollout planned to begin in October with full implementation in January 2019.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On December 5, 2016, Rail Labor’s Coordinated Bargaining Group (CBG) released the following statement, requesting that a federal mediator assist in negotiations:
“Despite our best efforts, collective bargaining with the major U.S. Class 1 railroads completely stalled late last week. Therefore, pursuant to the terms and conditions of the Railway Labor Act, we have today applied to the National Mediation Board (NMB) for the assignment of a federal mediator to assist in our negotiations.” Read the complete press release here.
Some 38,000 UTU members covered under the national rail contract will see a $2 reduction in their monthly health care contribution effective July 1 and continuing through June 30, 2016.
Health care insurance savings, in part made possible by the 2011 ratified national rail agreement, permitted the UTU and other rail labor organizations to seek the monthly reduction in the member contribution.
The national rail contract, ratified overwhelmingly by members last summer, included a negotiated cap on member contributions, putting that cap at $200 monthly, while carriers pay more than $1,401 on behalf of each employee covered under the national rail contract. Without the negotiated cap on member contributions, the monthly cost to members for health care insurance could escalate to $355 by the end of the agreement period.
The carriers’ health care savings, expected to be realized as a result of the 2011 national rail contract, permitted the $200 cap to be reduced to $198 effective July 1, and that lower $198 monthly cap will continue in force through June 30, 2016.
That $198 cap, and its length of time in force, is significant, as federal workers, for example, already pay more than $430 monthly for their family health care plan, and that cost is expected to rise in future years as health care costs generally continue a march upward.
The 2011 national rail contract also caps the family deductible at $400 annually, and the annual out-of-pocket maximum at $2,000, compared with a $700 maximum family deductible for federal workers and a $5,000 annual out-of-pocket maximum for federal workers.
Many in the private sector face even higher health care costs, while more than 40 million Americans have no health care insurance.
WASHINGTON — In the face of bipartisan get-tough-with-labor legislation introduced in the House and Senate, two of the remaining unions without national rail contracts agreed to a tentative settlement Dec. 1, and a third reached agreement with the carriers Dec. 1 to extend a cooling-off period into February.
With these agreements, the threat of a national railroad strike has been averted for now.
Previously, the Transportation Communications Union, the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen and the various shopcrafts, including the Sheet Metal Workers International Association, reached tentative six-year agreements with the National Carriers Conference Committee (NCCC). The NCCC represents BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, Soo Line, Union Pacific and numerous smaller railroads in national handling.
UTU members earlier ratified a five-year national rail contract.
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the American Train Dispatchers Association agreed Dec. 1 to a tentative six-year agreement as recommended last month by Presidential Emergency Board No. 243. References to the UTU’s ratified national rail contract are extensive in the PEB recommendations.
While the BLET is in national handling for health care, it previously reached ratified wage agreements with BNSF, CSX and Norfolk Southern for lower wage increases than the UTU and other organizations, and continues separate talks on wages with Union Pacific.
Also, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes reached agreement with the NCCC to extend into February a cooling-off period that was to expire Dec. 5.
The BLET and train dispatchers’ tentative agreements, and the cooling-off period extension agreed to by the BMWE Dec. 1, came in the face of separate House and Senate resolutions.
The House resolution, H.J. 91 and introduced by House Transportation & Infrastructure Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.), would have imposed as a final agreement on the BLET, the train dispatchers and the BMWE the PEB recommendations.
Separately, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was set to introduce for immediate Senate vote an identical resolution (S.J. 31). After the BLET, train dispatchers’ and BMWE agreements were announced late Dec. 1, Sen. Reid said:
“I applaud all the stakeholders who worked to avert a work stoppage that would have hurt our nation’s economy just as the holiday season gets underway. It is Congress’ constitutional duty to ensure the unfettered flow of interstate commerce, and to protect the nation’s economic well-being. I am pleased with this outcome and congratulate all sides, including the White House and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, for their effort to find common ground that protects our economy and keeps it on-track.”
WASHINGTON – Senior House Republicans Nov. 29 said they would act to head off a railroad work stoppage if rail unions that so far have not settled with the carriers do not have a voluntary settlement in place by the end of a final 30-day cooling off period that expires Dec. 6.
The UTU has a ratified national rail agreement in place, while the Transportation Communications Union, the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen and the various shopcrafts have reached tentative agreements. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes and the American Train Dispatchers Association have not reached a tentative agreement following recommendations for settlement by a Presidential Emergency Board.
(The BLET has ratified wage agreements in place with BNSF, CSX and Norfolk Southern — and is in separate wage negotiations with Union Pacific — but is in national handling for health care. The BMWE and the ATDA are in national handling for wage and health care agreements. Carriers in national handling include BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, Soo Line, Union Pacific and many smaller railroads. The carriers are represented by the National Carriers Conference Committee.)
If a national agreement between the BLET, the BMWE, the ATDA and the carriers is not reached by Dec. 6, the Railway Labor Act has run its course and the parties not yet in accord will be free to engage in self-help – a strike by labor or lockout by railroads.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said if tentative agreements involving the BLET, the BMWE and the ATDA are not reached by Dec. 6, they would act to prevent a work stoppage.
Typically, Congress intervenes with a back-to-work order almost immediately following a work stoppage, but there is nothing to prevent Congress from acting in advance to head off a strike by, for example, legislating the PEB recommendations or even its own settlement terms.
The three senior House Republicans told The Hill newspaper Nov. 29, “We are following with concern the situation involving our nation’s railways, and we are troubled by the possibility of a national railway strike that would jeopardize American jobs and cost our nation’s economy an estimated $2 billion per day.
“While our hope is that the parties involved will find common ground and resolve the situation without congressional involvement, the House is prepared to take legislative action in the days ahead to avert a job-destroying shutdown of our nation’s railroads, in the event such legislation proves necessary,” Boehner, Cantor and McCarthy said.
“A shutdown of our nation’s railways, which would harm our economy and endanger many American jobs, is unacceptable,” they said. “We are confident President Obama and the leaders of the Senate agree.”
The National Carriers Conference Committee earlier agreed to extend the cooling off period until at least February if all three of the remaining unions that have not yet settled agreed to the extension. The BLET declined Nov. 29 to agree to an extension of the cooling off period.
The nation’s largest shipper organization, the National Industrial Transportation League, as well as the Retail Federation of America and numerous other shippers have made pleas to Congress to head off a railroad work stoppage.
“For retailers, a strike during the busy holiday shopping season could be devastating,” the National Retail Federation said in a letter to Congress. “It is imperative that Congress recognize the severe economic harm threatened by the failure to reach agreement with the remaining rail unions and move quickly to prevent a rail strike that would prove devastating to both businesses and consumers.”
The UTU International is receiving questions from members regarding recommendations of Presidential Emergency Board 243, which was created under provisions of the Railway Labor Act after talks between other rail unions and the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC) broke down.
In the wake of that PEB 243’s recommendations, the Brotherhood Railroad Signalmen, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the International Association of Boilermakers & Blacksmiths,the International Association of Machinists, the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers, the Sheet Metal Workers International Association, and the Transportation Communications Union, including its Carmen Division have reached a tentative agreement with the NCCC, which are said to “mirror exactly” the PEB’s recommendations.
The other rail unions have resumed negotiations with the NCCC to consider the PEB recommendations, as required by the Railway Labor Act.
References to the UTU’s ratified agreement are extensive in the PEB recommendations. Out of respect to the other organizations, an analysis of those findings will be provided our membership after the other organizations complete the negotiation process.
The UTU’s ratified national rail contract – locking in for six years a $200 monthly health care insurance premium — is looking even more attractive following a Kaiser Family Foundation study showing health care costs and health care premiums are rocketing into space.
Nationally, the average monthly premium for family health care insurance through an employer reached $1,256 in 2011, according to the study– and even higher monthly premiums are forecast in the years ahead.
Although employers generally pay a significant portion of those premiums, the employee share for private sector and federal workers is anywhere from almost double to more than double what is paid by rail workers under the recently ratified UTU national rail contract.
It is expected that most private-sector and government employees will be paying considerably more in health care insurance premiums in the years ahead, while those covered by the UTU national rail contract pay not a penny more for coverage through mid-2016. Moreover, the UTU national rail contract includes improvements in a health care plan already considered one of the most comprehensive in America.
The Kaiser Family Foundation study found that health care insurance premiums have doubled over the past 10 years, outstripping, for most Americans, the growth in wages.
A new national rail contract, delivering a 17 percent wage increase over 60 months (18.24 percent when compounded), a 78-month cap on health care insurance contributions, plus improvements in health care benefits, has been ratified by solid margins by UTU members in each of the six crafts eligible to vote.
The new contract also provides certification pay, a faster process for new hires to reach full pay rates, provides for no work-rules givebacks and has no prior cost-of-living adjustment offsets.
Health care plan design changes deliver expanded and improved health care benefits, such as personalized medicine and access to centers of excellence. Personalized medicine assures access to the most up-to-date health care products available, while centers of excellence provide access for members and their families to the most advanced treatment centers in America when serious illness strikes.
Retroactive to Jan. 1, 2010, the ratified contract covers some 38,000 UTU 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.
Lump-sum payments of the retroactive portion of the wage increases will be paid by the carriers – 2.0 percent covering the period July 1, 2010, through June 30, 2011, and an additional 2.5 percent from July 1, 2011. (See table, below, for each of the wage hikes under the ratified contract.)
“The 17 percent wage increase over the life of this agreement is significantly higher than the rate of price inflation – providing a greater boost in purchasing power than any other national contract in the past 40 years,” said UTU International President Mike Futhey, who led the UTU negotiating team.
“The $200 monthly cap on health care insurance contributions, through July 1, 2016, is less than half what federal workers currently are paying, and is more than $140 less than the average currently paid by private-sector workers,” Futhey said. “With health care costs continuing to rise, this cap will be even more extraordinary in each successive year of this contract.”
Overall, the contract was ratified by a 60 percent to 40 percent margin. The craft-autonomy provisions of the UTU Constitution require that each craft ratify the agreement – and each of the six crafts did so by solid margins (see the table, below, for results by each craft).
Telephone voting – following town hall meetings across the country to discuss the contract — took place over a 21-day period beginning Aug. 12, with each voting-eligible member mailed a package of materials explaining the agreement. The UTU News and UTU website also provided extensive explanatory materials, with the website offering an opportunity for members to request answers to specific questions.
Votes were tabulated by BallotPoint Election Services, an employee-owned and union-represented firm. Members voted in the craft in which they worked the day prior to the mailing of ballots.
In addition to UTU lead negotiator President Futhey, UTU officers on the negotiating team included Assistant President Arty Martin; National Legislative Director James Stem; UTU International Vice Presidents Robert Kerley and Delbert Strunk; and General Chairpersons John Lesniewski (CSX, GO 049), Pate King (NS, GO 680) and Doyle Turner (CSX, GO 347).
Agreement Wage Hikes
July 1, 2010
July 1, 2011
July 1, 2012
July 1, 2013
July 1, 2014
Jan. 1, 2015
Ratification Vote by Craft
Following is how each UTU craft voted in ratifying the national agreement with most major railroads. The votes were certified by BallotPoint.
The deadline for voting on the National Rail Contract is 4 p.m., Eastern time, Friday, Sept. 2. Votes may be cast by telephone around the clock.
Voting packages, with information on the tentative agreement and voting instructions, including a telephone access code, were mailed Aug. 12 to members eligible to vote.
Members eligible to vote are those employed by railroads represented by the National Carriers Conference Committee – BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, Soo Line, Union Pacific and many smaller railroads.
Members who believe they are eligible to vote but have not received the voting package should immediately contact the UTU International.
Call (216) 228-9400 and ask to speak with Karen Cashin (extension 3012) or Cara McGinty (extension 3014). They will verify your identity, dues status and voting eligibility and provide a telephone access code so you may vote prior to the voting deadline.
Voting is by craft under the craft-autonomy provisions of the UTU Constitution. Crafts voting are brakeman, conductor, engineer, fireman, yardman and yardmaster. Members vote in the craft in which they worked the day prior to the mailing of ballots. Results will be based on valid ballots cast.
Votes will be tabulated by BallotPoint, which will report the results to the International. Results will be posted at www.utu.org/ when received by BallotPoint, which is expected the evening of Sept. 2.
To stay current on news relating to the National Rail Contract, visit www.utu.org/ and click on the “National Rail Contract” link at the bottom right corner of the home page.