In a joint letter, SMART Transportation Division National Legislative Director John Risch and Brotherhood of Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) National Legislative Representative John P. Tolman, submitted a letter to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) withdrawing their previous letter dated Jan. 12 requesting that the FRA make a final rule mandating uniform warning speed signs in advance of speed restrictions. Risch and Tolman still ask that speed signs be standardized in dimensions, conspicuity, color and distance ahead of a speed restriction, but are asking that this issue be presented to the FRA’s Rail Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) first. Click here to read Risch’s and Tolman’s original letter dated Jan. 12. Click here to read the withdrawal letter dated Feb. 26.
A SMART Transportation Division member was seriously injured and a BLET engineer was killed when a taxi hired by Union Pacific Railroad to transport the men rolled off the side of a freeway near the Interstate 680/Interstate 80 interchange, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The accident happened just after 1 a.m. this morning (March 17) in Fairfield, Calif.
Scott Moffitt, 51, who was seated in the left rear seat, was injured and engineer Alexander Sassman, 51, who was seated in the right rear seat, was killed. The taxi driver was also injured. Moffitt and the driver were taken to NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield.
Moffitt is a member of Transportation Division Local 1570 at Roseville, Calif.
The taxi was transporting the two UP employees from San Jose to Roseville.
CLEVELAND, Dec. 17 — Top leaders of the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART–TD) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) announced today that their organizations will be participating with four other rail unions in coordinated bargaining in the upcoming round of national negotiations.
On Dec. 8, 2014, BLET general chairmen and SMART–TD general chairpersons each served bargaining notices on their respective railroads, including identical notices related to health and welfare and related benefits.
“Today we build on the successes of joint bargaining during the past two national rounds,” said BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce. “Now more than ever before it is imperative that the unions representing railroad operating crafts sit side-by-side at the national table, and I am pleased that we have been able to accomplish that.”
“This is a landmark occasion for BLET members and SMART–TD members alike,” said SMART–TD President John Previsich. “Today’s announcement builds on several years of cooperation between our organizations on a variety of common issues, and is the logical next step for our great unions. Working together will allow rail labor to make the strongest possible effort to obtain for our members the wages and working conditions that they deserve.”
Also participating in the coordinated bargaining effort are the American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA), the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS), the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers, and Helpers (IBB), and the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers/SEIU (NCFO).
Jointly, the participating unions represent more than 85,000 railroad workers covered by the various organizations’ national agreements, and comprise over 58% of the workforce who will be impacted by the negotiations.
SEPTA moved Monday to impose management’s terms in a long-running labor dispute with Regional Rail workers, which union leaders said could prompt a strike that would halt all commuter rail service at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
SEPTA’s goal apparently is to risk a strike now, when ridership is lower, than next winter, when more commuters and students rely on the system. Regional Rail trains carry about 126,000 riders a day.
“We need to get an agreement now,” SEPTA general manager Joseph Casey said Monday. “Seven thousand other SEPTA employees have already accepted this wage package, but these 400 are holding out.”
SEPTA chief labor relations officer Stephanie K. Deiger on Monday alerted union leaders that SEPTA had sent letters on Friday to Regional Rail engineers and electrical workers, describing its intent to give them raises proposed by SEPTA effective next Sunday.
Read the whole story at Philly.com.
Nearly 99 percent of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) members working for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) have voted to authorize a strike when a mandatory 30-day cooling off period under the Railway Labor Act ends in less than two weeks, BLET officials announced this morning.
Locomotive engineers could walk off the job or be locked out by SEPTA at 12:01 a.m. on June 14 unless President Barack Obama intervenes and appoints a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB), according to a BLET press release. A PEB would delay a strike or lockout, and would investigate and issue a report and recommendations concerning a dispute in negotiations, union officials said.
Read the complete story at Progressive Railroading.
BREWSTER, Ohio – The more than 100 locomotive engineers and trainmen who went on strike Friday have been ordered by a federal judge to return to work.
U.S. District Court Judge John R. Adams issued a temporary restraining order late Friday afternoon that ended the daylong strike by the members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, which included pickets in front of the terminal on Wabash Avenue. The workers had cited safety violations as the reason for the protest against the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway.
Read the complete story at the Canton Repository.
HERMON, Maine — The runaway Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway train that plowed through a small Quebec town killing 50 people on July 6 had one engineer assigned to it.
The American union of railway workers representing most of Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway workers thinks the practice is dangerous, and has fought that work condition unsuccessfully since it began several years ago, its representatives say.
Read the complete story at Bangor Daily News.
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.”