On December 6, 2016, the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC) terminated negotiations with the SMART Mechanical-BMWED Bargaining Coalition and invoked mediation. Within its request for mediation services to the National Mediation Board (NMB), the NCCC alleged that the railroads “***have made every reasonable effort to reach an agreement***” but that it was “*** apparent the parties were far apart with little likelihood of reaching a settlement.”
The SMART Mechanical-BMWED Bargaining Coalition has been bargaining with the NCCC for approximately two years, and from the onset, the NCCC made it clear that drastic cuts to healthcare benefits, at least as much taken from the membership in the last round of National Bargaining, would be required to reach a “voluntary agreement.” The SMART Mechanical-BMWED Coalition presented a cost-saving measure for health insurance that required absolutely no changes to benefit levels, and would provide savings at least equal to the amount obtained by the Carriers through the benefit cuts recommended by Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) 243. To this point, the NCCC has stated that they are uninterested in our proposal even though they have conceded its value and continue to insist on slashing healthcare benefits as a way of obtaining “cost savings” and “mainstreaming” your healthcare benefits.
It is very disappointing that the railroads are uninterested in our solution. The railroads verified the savings of our proposal, yet they maintain that the savings are irrelevant to a voluntary settlement. Our proposal does not cost any railroad worker or the railroads any money and saves the National Plan substantial money which is a good thing for both our members and the railroads. The railroads refusal to engage on this issue shows their real interest is in cutting benefits that will take more money from our Brothers’ and Sisters’ pockets when they get sick and are most vulnerable economically. Our members do not need to pay any more. SMART members and other railroad workers already pay enough and they deserve their hard-earned benefits like every other hard-working American.”
The pace of national negotiations will now be subject to the NMB and the availability of the agency’s mediators’ services. No mediation sessions have been scheduled at this time. Updates on the status of national negotiations will be forthcoming as they develop.
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