While waiting for a response to our recent request to the National Mediation Board that a proffer of arbitration be issued by the Board to move our contract dispute to the next level, CBC unions participated in two additional days of mediated bargaining sessions with NCCC this week.
Once again, the nation’s class 1 rail carriers showed just how far removed they are from the realities that their employees and shippers are experiencing. Without regard for the beating that these rail carriers took in front of the Surface Transportation Board a week ago, and ignoring their continued record profit reports, the rail carriers continue to advance proposals at the bargaining table that they have previously been told are unacceptable to the CBC Unions and our members.
Due to the NCCC’s refusal to negotiate a fair agreement in good faith, all CBC Unions again request that the NMB proffer arbitration to the parties to stop the endless delays by the rail carriers.
As we advised in January and April, we had hoped that the involvement of the NMB would cause the industry to refocus on addressing the legitimate needs of the men and women whose labor generates their positive financial returns. That has not happened, and there is no indication that it will without allowing the remaining steps of the Railway Labor Act to play out to compel a favorable settlement.
The unions comprising the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition are: the American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA); the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen / Teamsters Rail Conference (BLET); the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS); the International Association of Machinists (IAM); the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB); the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers/SEIU (NCFO); the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU); the Transportation Communications Union / IAM (TCU), including TCU’s Brotherhood Railway Carmen Division (BRC); and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART–TD). Collectively, the CBC 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.
February 28, 2022 — By letter dated February 24, 2022, the rail bargaining coalition made up of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division of the Teamsters Rail Conference and the Mechanical Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Union petitioned the National Mediation Board (NMB) for a proffer of arbitration, requesting to be released from further mediation sessions. If granted by the NMB, the proffer of arbitration is the next step in the process towards self-help and a potential Presidential Emergency Board to settle their contract dispute with the nation’s rail carriers.
The Coordinated Bargaining Coalition (CBC) unions, which are likewise in negotiations with the same rail carriers, support the BMWED/SMART Mechanical request to be released from mediation and agree that the parties are at an impasse and should be allowed to move the contract dispute to the next steps of the Railway Labor Act’s negotiation process. Although the CBC Unions are also in mediation with their next NMB-mediated bargaining session scheduled in March, the CBC made it clear to the NMB upon entering mediation that there is little, if any, hope of reaching a voluntary agreement in light of the rail carriers’ refusal to bargain in good faith with any of the rail unions. Therefore, the CBC fully expects to be making the same request for a release, and once all rail unions are released from mediation, the CBC will stand alongside the BMWED/SMART Mechanical Coalition through the final steps of the Railway Labor Act negotiation process to bring the bargaining round to a successful conclusion.
A copy of BMWED/SMART Mechanical’s February 23, 2022, letter to the National Mediation Board can be found by clicking here.
The unions comprising the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition are: the American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA); the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen / Teamsters Rail Conference (BLET); the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS); the International Association of Machinists (IAM); the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB); the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers/SEIU (NCFO); the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU); the Transportation Communications Union / IAM (TCU), including TCU’s Brotherhood Railway Carmen Division (BRC); and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART-TD).
Collectively, the CBC 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.
As we enter this new year, it is important to reflect on where we have been, what challenges we have faced and what accomplishments we have made together. I am excited about our future and can say, with certainty, we are more prepared now than ever to face it head-on, with the best interests of our fellow brothers and sisters at the forefront.
While the last few years have had their share of trials, I am confident better days are ahead.
Amit Bose, President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Federal Railroad Administration, was confirmed Jan. 12 after a long wait. His ascension is one more step toward a common-sense regulation of freight rail crew size with safety, not profits, in mind. TD leadership looks ahead with great anticipation as we continue building the relationship we have established with him and the federal Department of Transportation.
I am also pleased to note that the Biden administration nominee for the vacant position on the National Mediation Board, Deidre Hamilton, was installed. This creates a 2-to-1 Democratic majority and a much more labor-friendly board than what we have had to deal with the last four years. This confirmation likely spurred NMB to work on the logjam of requested representation elections ignored by the previous administration. Our Organizing Department has six cases filed and reported that ballots are out on five. We are hopeful we’ll be able to welcome these properties into the SMART family soon.
I hear you loud and clear that better working conditions (removing bad attendance policies and getting better quality of life) are at the top of your list of things that need fixed as soon as possible.
Of course, NMB will play a key role as we, along with the other Coordinated Bargaining Coalition unions, announced in late January that national rail contract discussions had reached an impasse. They will select a mediator whom we hope will move negotiations past the past two years’ worth of insulting offers that the carriers have presented and into a truly constructive and realistic phase. Our members deserve nothing less after moving America’s freight during this pandemic. I hear you loud and clear that better working conditions (removing bad attendance policies and getting better quality of life) are at the top of your list of things that need fixed as soon as possible. That is why we challenged BNSF’s draconian and punitive Hi Viz attendance policy. We will stand up to mistreatment of our members, especially when carriers continue to crow about record profits.
The last couple of years have seen membership numbers drastically decline, but I am thrilled to announce we have a new local, 1706, opening up in the Kansas City area for approximately 200 new members working for Student Transportation of America. Vice President Calvin Studivant has been working closely with these new members and has completed their first fully ratified agreement. Congratulations to our new bus members, and welcome!
I have been fortunate to be invited and to attend a number of union meetings, Labor Day events and holiday cookouts recently. This allowed me the opportunity to openly talk with the membership and update them on the state of our UNION. I am looking forward to many more of these face-to-face meetings in 2022. I hear you loud and clear that better working conditions (removing bad attendance policies and getting better quality of life) are at the top of your list of things that need fixed as soon as possible.
It has been frustrating that we have not had our normal annual regional meetings the last two years, but I must say that I am proud of a number of our state legislative directors and general chairpersons who stepped up and took matters into their own hands. They organized “Regional Training Seminars” that consist of a variety of training and classes for local officers. I was honored to be asked to address the groups and spend time with those in attendance. SMART-TD provided a number of the facilitators and additional support and that, along with the hard work of the aforementioned SLDs and GCs, made all of them huge successes.
These have been so impactful that we are planning on additional seminars to be scheduled next year. If this is something you have an interest in attending, please let your SLD or GC know. I look forward to seeing more of you in the coming year at these meetings!
“Solidarity” is a word we throw around a lot, but it is always an adrenaline rush when you see it in action. I was excited to be invited and participate in a huge rally in Chicago in November to assist the Metra Passenger Rail Coalition. All Metra crafts were fighting for a good contract after being faced with what seemed to be never-ending mediation. VP Jamie Modesitt, Alternate National Legislative Director Jared Cassity and I didn’t need to be asked twice by GC Chip Waugh if we wanted in. The big blow-up rat and bullhorns blaring with the Chicago PD out to keep the crowd under control was exhilarating to say the least. We had local and state legislators and U.S. Reps. Chuy Garcia and Marie Newman show up to lend their support. It was yet another example of what organized labor can accomplish — together!
Your union also is continuing to get things done. We added many more features to the SMART app, making it more of a vital resource and advancing our technological presence. We’ve been able to adapt to a new way of leadership training with regional training seminars and coming soon our virtual educational efforts with SMART University. We are also developing a new website that will be more interactive, to name but a few.
There’s a lot going on and a lot more to come. I am excited and proud to be on this journey with you.
In closing, I ask that you do everything in your power to keep yourself and your fellow sisters and brothers safe on the job. Safety is a gift we give our families each and every day.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congress passed and President Trump signed into law Friday a bipartisan spending agreement also known as the “omnibus” spending bill that provides a massive boost toward several of our union’s priorities, including transportation infrastructure projects, the Railroad Retirement Board and the National Mediation Board. With the growing demand by our nation’s leaders to address infrastructure needs, the omnibus provides a major boost to funding passenger rail and transit projects such as $1.9 billion for Amtrak, including $650 million for projects in the Northeast Corridor. This will provide much-needed funding for the Gateway Project that will double passenger train service between New York and New Jersey to reduce congestion while making repairs to tunnels and tracks that are long overdue. For our bus and transit members, the bill provides $2.6 billion to fund major transit capital investments, including heavy rail, commuter rail, light rail, streetcars and bus rapid transit projects nationwide. In addition, the Railroad Retirement Board received a $10 million boost that will allow the agency to phase out its decades-old hardware systems with modernized Information Technology services to provide and disburse benefits to our railroad retirees in a timely manner. Lastly, the omnibus provides the National Mediation Board with $13.8 million that includes the sustained $570,000 funding increase to address the arbitration backlog. “The SMART TD National Legislative Office continues to inform lawmakers about the importance of funding transit and passenger rail that are vital to our union membership and the nation’s transportation workforce at large. We will continue working to ensure that Congress addresses the full needs of our rail workers by increasing resources for the National Mediation Board and Railroad Retirement Board so that our members receive the services they earned and deserve,” SMART TD National Legislative Director John Risch said.
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:
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%.”
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.
In a letter dated Dec. 5, the National Mediation Board (NMB) certified the SMART Transportation Division as the official union of the train and engine service employees of the Central Maine & Quebec Railway (CMQR). SMART TD invoked the services of the NMB Aug. 12, 2015, to investigate and determine who may represent the train and engine service employees of CMQR. These employees were previously unrepresented by a union. NMB Investigator Cristina Bonaca held an election and out of the total 11 eligible employees, 10 voted for SMART TD representation, while one employee opted not to vote. Due to these results, Bonaca certified that SMART is the designated labor union and is authorized to represent CMQR train and engine service employees. “Every department on this railroad that voted for representation: the carmen, maintenance of way, machinists, conductors and engineers bravely stood together and have chosen SMART TD as their representative. They believe that there is strength in numbers,” said SMART TD Organizer Larry Grutzius. “I was glad to be a part of their effort and to see how strongly these new members feel about taking the steps to gain fair compensation for their labor.” “I’d like to thank Larry Grutzius for all the time and effort he put into winning this campaign,” Director of Organizing Rich Ross said. “We are looking forward to working with our brothers and sister on CMQR to help improve working conditions and their quality of life on the railroad.”
In a letter dated Dec. 5, the National Mediation Board (NMB) certified the SMART Transportation Division as the official union of the train and engine service employees of the Central Maine & Quebec Railway (CMQR).
SMART TD invoked the services of the NMB Aug. 12, 2015, to investigate and determine who may represent the train and engine service employees of CMQR. These employees were previously unrepresented by a union.
NMB Investigator Cristina Bonaca held an election and out of the total 11 eligible employees, 10 voted for SMART TD representation, while one employee opted not to vote. Due to these results, Bonaca certified that SMART is the designated labor union and is authorized to represent CMQR train and engine service employees.
“Every department on this railroad that voted for representation: the carmen, maintenance of way, machinists, conductors and engineers bravely stood together and have chosen SMART TD as their representative. They believe that there is strength in numbers,” said SMART TD Organizer Larry Grutzius. “I was glad to be a part of their effort and to see how strongly these new members feel about taking the steps to gain fair compensation for their labor.”
“I’d like to thank Larry Grutzius for all the time and effort he put into winning this campaign,” Director of Organizing Rich Ross said. “We are looking forward to working with our brothers and sister on CMQR to help improve working conditions and their quality of life on the railroad.”
Washington, D.C. – The National Mediation Board (NMB) is pleased to announce that Nicholas Geale became chairman of the National Mediation Board, effective July 1, 2015. Harry Hoglander and Linda Puchala remain as members of the Board. Geale was nominated by President Barack Obama on July 30, 2013 and confirmed by the United States Senate on August 1, 2013.
Prior to his appointment Geale was the Director of Oversight and Investigations for Ranking Member Lamar Alexander on the U. S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. His primary responsibilities included investigating waste, fraud and abuse in government programs, and he worked with agency Inspectors General and the Government Accountability Office in that capacity. He also evaluated and advised the committee on Presidential nominees and assisted the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions policy teams in evaluating government programs.
Before becoming Director of Oversight, Geale served as Oversight and Investigations Counsel on the Committee for ranking member Michael B. Enzi. Prior to joining the HELP Committee, he was first an attorney/advisor to the solicitor and then the counselor to the deputy secretary at the U.S. Department of Labor under the leadership of Secretary Elaine L. Chao. In both those roles, Geale assisted the department in implementing policies regarding over 180 laws under its jurisdiction and managing the Department’s 15,000 employees.
Prior to federal service, Geale had six years of experience in labor and employment matters, general commercial litigation and alternative dispute resolution in private and public practice, including serving as assistant general counsel for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. He graduated from Georgetown Law in 1999 and Claremont McKenna College in 1996.
The National Mediation Board is an independent federal agency established by the Railway Labor Act, which governs labor-management relations within two key transportation sectors of the United States and U.S. territories: railroads and airlines.
CSX Transportation General Committee of Adjustment GO 851 has reached two new collective bargaining agreements with Florida East Coast Railway (FECR). One agreement covering conductors, engineers, and trainmen; a second covering yardmasters. Both five-year agreements were signed June 18, 2015, and are retroactive to 2013. Local 903 of Jacksonville, Fla., and Local 1138 of Miami are affected by the agreements. The agreements were a long-time coming with the bargaining process having begun 2.5 years ago. The National Mediation Board (NMB) was invoked and NMB Mediator Victoria Gray stepped in to guide the mediation. Both agreements protect work rules, wages, and healthcare for both train and engine members and yardmasters. The agreements include retroactive pay to 2013 with wage increases totaling 13 percent each. “This was a team effort involving former Vice President Robert Kerley, Vice President John Lesniewski, Vice General Chairperson Joe Bennett, FECR Assistant General Chairperson Jim Bush (Local 903), Local Chairperson Jim McCorkle (Local 1138) and Local Chairperson Eddie Guillen (Local 1138),” GO 851 General Chairperson John Whitaker said. FECR operates between Jacksonville, Fla., and Miami. GO 851 represents approximately 200 employees on the property.
Washington, D.C. – The National Mediation Board (NMB) is pleased to announce that in June 2015 three new mediators have joined the NMB:
Jane Allen joins the NMB with 22 years of experience in the airline industry. She also practiced law for five years. Ms. Allen worked for five years in a senior executive capacity at a large legacy carrier. She had overall responsibility for cabin crew operations as the Senior Vice President Onboard Service. Subsequently, Ms. Allen directed the company’s human resource and labor activities as the Senior Vice President of Human Resources. As a member of the company’s executive committee, she provided advice and counsel on strategic human resource and labor matters to the senior executive team and the Board of Directors.
Ms. Allen also held a variety of positions over 17 years at another large legacy air carrier. As the Vice President of Employee Relations and Chief Labor Negotiator, she directed all collective bargaining, and was responsible for contract interpretation, labor relations, and mediation. In this position she gained broad experience under numerous Railway Labor Act provisions, and in Alternative Dispute Resolution. Ms. Allen also served as the carrier’s Vice President of Flight Service and the Managing Director of Compensation and Benefits for all employees.
Ms. Allen holds a JD from Vanderbilt University’s School of Law and a BA in Communications from The Ohio State University.
Eva Durham joins the NMB with 40 years of airline labor relations experience at regional, legacy and ULLC carriers. She began her career as a flight attendant with Ozark Airlines, where she was elected to the AFA MEC. At TWA, Ms. Durham served as a labor advocate on cross divisional labor teams and later worked with multiple labor groups as manager in the TWA human resource – labor relations organization. Her labor experience in the regional airline industry includes serving as Vice President Inflight at Atlantic Southeast Airlines, and leading the Inflight department at Compass Airline. Ms. Durham gained ULLC experience at Frontier and Spirit Airlines, where she served as Senior Director Inflight. Her tenure in the airline industry includes labor relations, contract negotiations, and leading change during airline bankruptcy, strike, mergers, spin offs, and transitions.
Ms. Durham holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Her MBA was earned at Clayton State University in Morrow, Georgia. She has completed mediation training at Harvard Law School and worked as a Georgia civil and domestic relations mediator.
Catherine McCann joins the NMB with considerable experience in labor relations. Prior to joining the NMB, Ms. McCann worked in the commercial aviation industry for 18 years in various Human Resources and Labor Relations capacities. She served as the Vice President of Employee Relations and the Vice President of People for American Eagle Airlines. She had responsibility for all Human Resources and Labor Relations functions and negotiated multiple labor agreements with each of American Eagle’s unions, including six restructuring agreements during bankruptcy.
During her tenure at American Eagle, Ms. McCann gained extensive experience in the utilization of interest based bargaining and alternative dispute resolution techniques. She managed labor relations, contract administration, grievance resolution and arbitration issues.
Ms. McCann also has labor relations experience with unions in Canada and the Bahamas.
Ms. McCann holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of North Texas.