Posts Tagged ‘Railway Labor Act’

Rail workers’ right to choose medical network upheld

In early July 2020, just over eight months after the current round of national bargaining had begun, the carriers’ representative — the National Railway Labor Conference (NRLC) — proposed reconfiguring the National Plan’s network structure in a way that would force many railroad workers into the cheapest area medical network immediately and then on a continual 3- to 5-year schedule without formal bargaining.

The Cooperating Railway Labor Organizations (CRLO), which is the rail labor umbrella group that oversees plan administration in concert with the NRLC, rejected the proposal, stating that this was an issue for negotiations and pointing out that the carriers had made an identical proposal at the bargaining table. In late July, the NRLC demanded that the unions agree to the proposal and threatened to use the binding deadlock neutral process found in the 1991 National Agreement settlement to resolve the dispute.

This threat led 12 unions in the CRLO to file suit against the nation’s Class I railroad carriers in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, asking the court to force the carriers to bargain in good faith with the unions over mandatory subjects of bargaining, such as their network structure proposal. The carriers’ defense was that this was a “minor” dispute under the Railway Labor Act, as it involved an administrative matter under the National Plan and, therefore, could be resolved by the “deadlock neutral” process that was included in national agreements for all unions that were imposed by Congress — and signed into law by President George H. W. Bush — in order to stop a national strike in 1991.

At an Aug. 31, 2021, hearing before a Special Board of Adjustment chaired by Arbitrator Joshua M. Javits, the unions documented the history of health care network development in the railroad industry, showing that the carriers’ proposal was anything but administrative in nature. They also showed the adverse impact the proposal would have on over a quarter-million plan participants. The carriers countered that no “right to choose” existed in any national agreement, and that the deadlock neutral had the authority to decide the matter if the parties couldn’t agree.

In upholding the unions’ position on the key question of network choice, Chairman Javits’ Oct. 20 award found “that the Carriers’ proposal – in as far as it relates to the selection of network vendors – is an administrative matter. However, those elements of the Carriers’ proposal that reduce choice for Plan participants and result in only a single network vendor being available to Plan participants, constitutes a change in Plan design and, thus, is outside the deadlock neutral’s jurisdiction.”

The leaders of the prevailing unions issued the following statement concerning this decision:

“This is a significant victory for the men and women covered by the national plans, and for their families. The carriers have been dragging their feet at the bargaining table while this dispute wound its way through the system. All the while, our members — essential employees, one and all — have continued to keep the country moving despite the pandemic.

“To the carriers, whose profits continued to flow in unabated, we say ‘The time for delay is over. Your workers have earned and deserve a new national agreement, one that reflects their true contribution to your bottom line.’ We remain ready to negotiate that agreement, and urge you to devote as much energy to that task as you invested in your failed effort to deprive your workers of their choice of medical networks.”

# # #

The unions involved in the dispute are the American Train Dispatchers Association; the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen; the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes; the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen; the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers; the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, Mechanical Division; the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, Transportation Division; the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; the National Conference of Fireman & Oilers District, Local 32BJ, SEIU; the Transportation Communications Union/IAM; and the Transport Workers Union.

View this release in PDF form.

TD members may act in solidarity for striking workers, but actions limited by RLA

Local 313 (Grand Rapids, Mich.) member Chris Larson, a member of our union for seven years, wrote to the office of SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson asking the extent that members can go to support and show solidarity to an ongoing labor action by another labor union against an employer.

More than 1,000 members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) union have been striking for more than a month in locations in Portland, Ore.; Richmond, Va.; Norcross, Ga., and Chicago against Nabisco/Mondelez. Brother Larson suggested in a letter that unionized train operators stop deliveries to the company’s plants in a concerted effort in support of the strikes.

“Nabisco / Mondelz (sic) International will quickly notice when their raw inputs of flour, sugar, and other bulk commodities delivered by rail are no longer being delivered because SMART-TD is supporting the BCTGM strike,” Larson wrote. “I would like to encourage SMART-TD to quickly explore how our union can honor the BCTGM strike by not delivering raw inputs to Nabisco / Mondelz (sic) International by rail.”

While a strong and impactful suggestion by Larson, the federal Railway Labor Act limits when, where and why rail workers can engage in a work stoppage, as the union’s response noted.

“…it is important to note that the governing federal law (specifically the Railway Labor Act, as amended,) limits our ability to go on strike to very narrow and specific circumstances. Unfortunately, those circumstances do not include the secondary strike action you describe in your letter,” the TD office replied.

“We absolutely support the BCTGM workers in their fight for fairness and justice with Nabisco/Mondelez,” Ferguson said. “Our members and leadership will do what we can within the law through personal boycotts and outreach initiated by local members to show support from our union. We thank Brother Larson for speaking up and asking this question, and we appreciate his desire to act in solidarity with our fellow workers at BCTGM.”

Constitutionally, members can act in the interest of their personal safety in areas where a strike is taking place. According to Article 21B, Section 92 of the SMART Constitution:

When a strike of any other nationally recognized labor organization is in effect and danger to the safety of our members exists in or about the area affected by the strike, and/or if there exists any substantial present or potential threat of danger to the members enroute to or from their work, and/or to the members’ families, it is the policy of SMART to support its members in declining to enter the territory directly affected.

The strikes against Nabisco/Mondelez first began in August with BCTGM workers in Portland, then spread to the three additional locations during the month to protest the company’s outsourcing of U.S. jobs to plants in Mexico and the disproportionate hazard pay given to management when workers received only a $300 bonus.

As of this writing, the work stoppages are ongoing, and there are multiple ways TD members and their families can assist in the effort in the spirit of solidarity suggested at the BCTGM website.

  1. Check the label of Nabisco/Mondelez snacks and do not buy products made in Mexico by non-union labor.The UComm blog has an extensive list of the brands under the Nabisco/Mondelez umbrella, and the BCTGM has a PDF (image reproduced and linked here and below) showing where to check a Nabisco/Mondelez product’s place of manufacture. Some of the most-popular products sold by the company include Oreo, Chips Ahoy and Fig Newtons cookies as well as Ritz crackers.

  2. Join one of the picket lines to give supplies or offer support at the following sites:
    • Portland, Ore.: 100 N.E. Columbia Blvd.
    • Aurora, Colo.: 17775 E. 30th Ave.
    • Chicago, Ill.: 7300 Kedzie Ave.
    • Norcross, Ga.: 6300 Brook Hollow Pkwy.
    • Richmond, Va.: 6002 S. Laburnum Ave.
  3. Send a message of solidarity to the strike organizers.
  4. Donate to the BCTGM local strike funds:
    Local 1, Chicago Bakery Workers
    Local 42, Atlanta/Norcross Distribution Workers
    Local 358, Richmond Bakery Workers
    Local 364, Portland Bakery Workers
  5. Spread the word through your community by posting this flier or online through social media by following the BCTGM union’s accounts and using the #NabiscoStrike and #NoContractNoSnacks hashtags.

Together, we can assist the BCTGM workers to achieve a fair and favorable outcome to stop the corporate greed exhibited by Nabisco/Mondelez management.

Read Brother Chris Larson’s letter and the TD response. (PDF)

Arbitrator finds that Section 6 bargaining regarding crew consist can begin

On July 28, 2021, a Neutral appointed by the National Mediation Board issued his ruling finding that on certain railroad properties, the current moratoria in those crew consist agreements do not prohibit the railroads from serving a Section 6 Notice regarding crew size. The properties affected or having no current moratorium include certain properties at BNSF, UP, NS and CN Railroads. Other properties not currently affected or involved may also be included in the future as moratoriums naturally expire. Please contact your local chairperson or general chairperson for specific details regarding your terminal or district.

The ruling comes after a nearly two-year battle between SMART-TD and the National Railway Labor Conference over the moratoria provisions and their effect. The arbitration was one of the largest conducted by SMART-TD and its predecessor union, UTU, in decades.

The ruling does not eliminate any current crew consist provision or requirement. The only thing it does is to open the door for bargaining to occur. The moratoria that previously prevented any mandatory bargaining on crew consist were predicated on the last remaining employees having hired on the railroad previous to the 1980’s. Today, less than 100 of these employees remain nationwide, and most are at, or near retirement age. 

Once a Section 6 is served, the Railway Labor Act requires both parties to engage in mandatory bargaining. The Act, however, does not mandate any particular outcome in such negotiations, it merely provides a process. In the event parties reach an impasse, the Act contains methods to avoid disruption to commerce through mandatory mediation and possibly intervention from the President of the United States and the U.S. Congress.

SMART-TD remains committed to protecting the jobs of today, as well as securing the jobs of the future. While only some General Committees will be involved in bargaining, the full support and effort of the International in assisting those Committees will continue.

SMART, 18 other unions endorse two for NMB

SMART and 18 other unions sent a letter to President Joe Biden and Democratic U.S. Senate leaders Chuck Schumer and Patty Murray reminding the president that appointing new members to the National Mediation Board (NMB) should be prioritized and endorsed the appointment of Deirdre Hamilton and reappointment of Linda Puchala to the board.

President Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Via US Mail and Electronic Transmission

Dear President Biden:

We, the undersigned unions representing hundreds of thousands of Americans working in the airline and rail industries, take pleasure in expressing our strong support of Deirdre Hamilton to serve as a Member on the National Mediation Board (NMB), and for sitting NMB member Linda Puchala’s reappointment to the board. We also urge you to make these appointments immediately. Unlike other federal agencies, the Trump-appointed NMB will remain in control until new board members are nominated and confirmed by the Senate. With each passing day, the Trump NMB is allowed more opportunity to suppress the voices of aviation and rail workers, stifle collective bargaining rights, and undermine the Biden-Harris pro-worker agenda.

Created by Congress through the Railway Labor Act (RLA), the NMB plays an essential role in the facilitation of labor-management relations in the aviation and rail industries. Collectively, our unions represent mechanics, pilots, flight attendants, engineers, conductors, and maintenance of way employees, among other critical roles. These workers are best served when the NMB is reliably staffed with public servants who understand the importance of collective bargaining and who, when disputes arise, will seek fair and timely resolutions. Both Ms. Hamilton and Ms. Puchala have impeccable qualifications for positions on the board, and have proven throughout their careers to be steadfast allies of workers.

With over 20 years of experience, Ms. Hamilton has represented workers before federal courts and with the NMB on a wide range of legal issues, including union elections, mediation, contract enforcement, and major and minor dispute claims, and has amassed an in-depth knowledge of the RLA and how it functions. For the past 6 years, Ms. Hamilton has served as the Staff Attorney to the Airline Division at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. She has held similar positions as a Senior Staff Attorney at the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO, and Legal Fellow at the International Association of Machinists. With her experience and command of the RLA, Ms. Hamilton would be in an excellent position to foster strong labor-management relations, protect the right of workers to form and join unions, and ensure that the mediation and arbitration duties of the Board are deployed to serve all stakeholders.

Ms. Puchala has served as a member of the NMB since her confirmation by the U.S. Senate in 2009. Prior to her service as a Board Member, Ms. Puchala worked as a Mediator, Sr. Mediator (ADR) and the Associate Director of Alternative Dispute Resolution Services over a 10-year career at the NMB. During her tenure, Ms. Puchala has demonstrated leadership and professionalism that has earned her the respect of both parties across the mediation table. Ms. Puchala has also pursued innovative strategies to resolve pending arbitration cases, sought to modernize the NMB’s management practices and has fought for policies that will protect the rights of workers to have a union voice. Ms. Puchala also obtained important labor relations experience as a former International President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, and a Staff Director, Michigan State Employees Association, AFSCME.

The rail and aviation industries support good middle-class jobs that are critical to the economy and are even more important as the country seeks to recover from COVID-19 in the coming months and years. NMB members have an important role to play in protecting these jobs and expanding workforce opportunities in sectors covered by the RLA.

Sincerely,

Air Line Pilots Association, International

Allied Pilots Association

American Train Dispatchers Association

Association of Flight Attendants, CWA

Association of Professional Flight Attendants

Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen

Communications Workers of America

International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers

International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

International Brotherhood of Teamsters

National Conference of Firemen & Oilers, SEIU

NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots

Service Employees International Union

Southwest Airlines Pilots Association

Transportation Communications Union/IAM

Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO

Transport Workers Union of America

UNITE HERE International Union

CC: Senator Charles Schumer

Senator Patty Murray

President Ferguson: Setting record straight on anti-labor articles

Brothers and Sisters,

It’s time to set the record straight. I am certain many of you have seen the recent anti-labor articles that have been published regarding our recent win in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. That win has apparently struck a raw nerve with the carriers and the minions who eagerly await their master’s call. Make no mistake, that decision struck a fatal blow to the carriers’ plans to put you on the unemployment line. Rather than accept defeat, their apologists are trying to spin this loss into something that it is not. The long history of crew consist cannot be denied. For decades, we have battled with the carriers over their fevered attempts to cut costs and put your life at risk by down-sizing crews. This current round of negotiations is no different. They sought to eliminate your job and operate trains in perhaps the most dangerous way possible. Standing up for you, that’s what this case was about.

They have severely underestimated the fight in each and every one of us; the sheer grit and determination that we have to defend our families, our jobs, and the overall welfare of our co-workers and the general public alike. The truth that these apologists fear to admit is that in this Union, the dues-paying members are the Union — period. There is no divide between the “Union” and the “dues-paying members.” There is only a “Union.” We stand together now more than ever.

To salve their masters’ wounds, those “commentators” try to spin this as union officers protecting their own jobs. They know not of what they speak and their ignorance is evident in the web that they weave. They used nameless sources in an attempt to add credibility to a tall tale that anyone with true insight would know is far from factual. The fact remains that all officers in this newly elected SMART-TD administration are firmly united.

The Railway Labor Act protects agreements from being changed except through the processes provided for in Section 6 of the Act. The carriers had agreed to crew consist provisions years ago. Not only that, but to end the constant battle over crew consist, the carriers also agreed to moratoria provisions that barred any Section 6 Notice over crew consist until the last protected employee voluntarily left service. That event has not yet happened. These are the facts, but they are nowhere to be found in any recounting in the carriers’ favored publications. Rather, what you are treated to is the old worn song of the anti-unionist. The apologist who says trust the carriers, they only want what was best for you. Right. The carriers want to give you lifetime protections? At what cost? And when they decide they don’t like that deal any more, will they ignore it just like they have tried to ignore our moratoria provisions and put you on the street? These apologists assert that they have some inside scoop, yet I have never witnessed any “commentator” at the bargaining table. They are outsiders.

What else is missing? Acknowledgement of the only thing the carriers care about — their bottom line. Money comes before all else. That is evidenced by the unbelievable lengths they will go to argue that you are paid too much, that your insurance is too expensive, and that they are going broke as a result of the costs of our Agreements. You are the target in their zeal to improve their stock price. That is a sad fact that you will not find in any of those articles.

Another fallacy that is being sold — technology will do everything more safely. That simply is not true. Their technology is fallible. It doesn’t work like they wish it would nor as advertised. In fact, it’s not a matter of if it will break down, but when. We have collected thousands of Failure Reports across all Class Is and the data is terrifying. Never has the human element been more important in railroad operations. Engineers spend more time with their faces in multiple screens trying to manipulate and interpret the ambiguous systems than they do focusing on the territory ahead. Conductors are relied upon now more than ever, as they are the eyes and ears of the train crew, and we have the stories to prove it.

The articles also attempt to scare you by asserting that the carriers will unilaterally reduce crews at the end of the last-person-standing moratorium. That is not how the Act works. The expiration of the moratoria does not sunset crew consist. Rather, moratoria bar either party from serving a Section 6 notice to amend or change the current Crew Consist Agreements until the last protected employee leaves. Once that happens, then a Section 6 Notice can be served and the long and drawn-out process of the RLA engaged to negotiate the next generation of agreements.

Railroad workers have all been lied to long enough by management, and we can smell lies coming from a mile away.

As a word of advice to Railway Age, I would caution them against living in the past and trying to play SMART-TD against the BLET. We are working closely together in the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition (CBC) in national handling and on the various other disputes that the carriers have forced us into.

Brothers and Sisters, do not be discouraged, and do not be swayed by those with ulterior motives. We are in this fight together, and we are moving forward.

 

 

 

 

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.”

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.

‘Minibus’ bill’s signing provides funds to NMB, RRB

The funding levels that was in effect for the 2018 fiscal year for both the National Mediation Board (NMB) and for the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) remain steady for the 2019 fiscal year in the “minibus” budget bill that was signed by President Donald Trump.

The RRB will receive $123.5 million — $113.5 million will go to administrative costs with the $10 million balance funding RRB’s initiative to improve its information technology structure.

“Based on the last cost estimate provided by the RRB, with this funding level, the agency will have received nearly half of the total cost of its IT overhaul,” National Legislative Director John Risch said.

Funding also held steady for the NMB, which provides dispute-resolution processes between rail unions and carriers through mediation, representation and arbitration between labor and management.

The board last fiscal year received a boost in its funding to $13.8 million in part to help it work through a number of pending Section 3 cases. That funding level stays, although not all those Section 3 cases were heard — the board made a move over the summer to close many cases that were unfunded, more than three years old and had not advanced in the process.

Those cases could be reopened if a party involved in the aged-out cases writes a letter to the NMB’s director of arbitration services.

NMB had about 6,400 cases to deal with overall at the end of October.

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

Transport labor urges ‘no tinkering’ with RLA

WASHINGTON — The UTU and 17 other transportation labor organizations urged Congress Jan. 30 to pass a Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization without making what they called “drastic and unnecessary changes to the Railway Labor Act.”

Historically, any changes to the Railway Labor Act have been jointly agreed to by labor and management – a primary reason the law has been so effective in ensuring uninterrupted commerce and keeping paychecks flowing in the airline and railroad industries.

In fact, when the Railway Labor Act was passed by Congress in 1926, it was the product of joint agreement by labor and management – and that collaboration has continued since.

In this instance, the House Republican leadership is seeking to use FAA reauthorization as a vehicle to overturn a National Mediation Board (NMB) ruling that made union-representation elections in the airline and railroad industry conform to the rules of virtually every other election tally in America.

The House Republican leadership, at the instigation of airline management, is seeking to overturn that National Mediation Board ruling that updated the agency’s union-representation voting rule. Previously, those not casting a ballot in a representation election were considered to have cast a “no” ballot. Nowhere else in American society does such a rule exist.

The NMB changed the rule to provide for a majority vote of those actually voting in a union representation election. That change was affirmed by a federal appeals court after airline carriers challenged it in court. Failing in court, the carriers turned to their friends in the House.

The transportation labor organizations told Congress in their joint statement:

“A rewrite of long-standing labor law deserves proper and due consideration through the normal deliberative process. Acting otherwise directly conflicts with the non-partisan recommendations of the 1994 report of the Dunlop Commission on the Future of Worker-Management negotiations. Unilaterally changing that law without labor’s input and without due deliberation threatens to unravel its carefully balanced goals of labor stability and uninterrupted commerce.

“Rewarding the House Republican leadership’s desire to rewrite decades of long-standing labor law in a flash by inserting an unrelated and controversial labor provision in a much needed aviation safety and security bill, without notice, hearing or debate, sets an extremely dangerous precedent.

“We urge the Senate to delete the provision of the bill that would amend the RLA and pass the clean FAA reauthorization that all concerned recognize this country sorely needs and supports.”