Ballots on the Way

BLET mails ballots for Tentative National Agreement

Balloting has begun for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen’s (BLET) tentative national agreement with the National Carriers’ Conference Committee, which governs rates of pay, benefits and work rules for over 25,000 locomotive engineers and trainmen.

On November 9, 2017, ballots, instructions, and a synopsis of the agreement were mailed to locomotive engineer members working for the following railroads:

• Belt Railway Company of Chicago;
• BNSF Railway Company;
• Consolidated Rail Corporation;
• CSX Transportation, Inc.;
• Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad Company;
• Kansas City Southern Railway Company (including Kansas City Southern Railway, Louisiana and Arkansas Railway, MidSouth Rail Corporation, Gateway Western Railway, SouthRail Corporation, and Texas Mexican Railway Company);
• Longview Switching Company;
• Norfolk Southern Railway Company;
• Portland Terminal Railroad Company;
• Soo Line Railroad Company;
• Union Railroad Company;
• Union Pacific Railroad Company; and
• Winston Salem Southbound Railway Company.

Ballots, instructions, and a synopsis of the agreement also were mailed to conductor and trainmen members working for the Texas Mexican Railway Company.

Voting will conclude on Thursday, November 30. Members who have not received a ballot by Wednesday, November 15, should request a replacement by calling the BLET National Division at (216) 241-2630, ext. 222. When connected with the extension, please leave the following information:

• your name, address and phone number;
• the division to which you belong;
• the railroad for which you work; 
• the date you were promoted to locomotive engineer;
• your date of birth; and
• the last four digits of your Social Security number.

Members also have the option of leaving their e-mail address if they wish their ballot, instructions and synopsis e-mailed to them instead of receiving it via first-class mail. However, e-mail requests for ballots will not be accepted because personal information is required to verify eligibility before a ballot can be issued.

BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce encouraged all eligible members to closely review the ratification packet and other materials being made available online. “This has been a particularly difficult bargaining round and your Advisory Board recommends that you vote YES on the proposal before you,” President Pierce said. “Voting on your union contract and deciding your own future is one of the benefits of belonging to a Union. I encourage all eligible members to become educated on the issues and to participate in this most important process of union democracy.”

The BLET reached the Tentative National Agreement as part of a coalition with five other unions. The Coordinated Bargaining Group (CBG) is comprised of: 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.

Proposed National Agreement

Brothers and Sisters,

The ballots for the proposed National Agreement will be mailed soon.  As most of you know our General Committee supports this proposal along with all the other BLET General Committees across the country.  

I have seen some negative comments along with complete misinformation on this proposal on social media.  I feel it is my responsibility to inform you with the correct information before you vote.  I had previously posted my thoughts on the proposal on this our website and that post is still available to view.  

If you have any questions please ask your BLET Local Chairman and we will get you an answer.

Thanks

Ronnie Rhodes

 

 

Information on Proposed Agreement Ratification

Brothers and Sisters of the BLET Central Region,

I attended a meeting in Cleveland where the current tentative agreement was reviewed by all the BLET General Chairmen.  I supported the National President's decision to put this agreement before the membership for a ratification vote.  I want you to be informed when your ballots arrive so I will lay out the facts in an attempt to help you make an informed decision.

If we vote against the proposed agreement, please understand that all previous offers, including, but not limited to, the tentative agreement are off the negotiating table. We will be assigned a Presidential Emergency Board by the President of the United States.  The parties will start with their original positions.

I have a link to PEB 219 so you can see how the Carrier's told the board that their employees are overpaid and how they needed changes in work rules to compete with the trucking industry.  Please take the time to read this PEB, you can read for yourself how the Carrier’s tried to justify freezing our wages and gaining work rule concessions in PEB 219.

http://bletupcr.org/PEB219.pdf

You will also find where "cost sharing" became part of your healthcare package among other changes.

Changes could also be made that standardize some our local agreements that bring all Engineers under the same National Agreement. 

Currently, our General Committee has one of the best vacation allocation agreements in the rail industry. 

We are one of two General Committees that do not have to qualify for Personal Leave Days. (Just be marked up and in OK status)

We are the only General Committee that can bank 200 Personal Leave Days for retirement or emergencies. 

Our General Committee has also obtained lodging for engineers forced over 100 miles from their home terminal. 

Our General Committee has in place arbitration awards backed by a court decision that prohibit the Union Pacific from using Article IX to modify the runs that were agreed to in the Hub negotiations.

We have fought hard for these agreements, awards and court decisions.  

Lots of misinformation out in the field right now.  

Below is the definition of a PEB.  I made the last paragraph bold for a reason.  I do not want the Congress to write our agreement; they know nothing about railroading.  

  

1. What is a PEB?

Presidential Emergency Board

If either labor or management decline voluntary arbitration, or if in the opinion of the NMB the continuance of the controversy threatens substantially to interrupt interstate commerce in any section of the nation, the NMB is required to notify the President of the United States, who may, at his discretion, create a fact-finding Presidential Emergency Board.

The parties must maintain the status quo (no strikes or lockouts) for 30 days. If the president chooses not to appoint an emergency board, strikes or lockouts may occur after the 30-day cooling-off period.

Emergency boards are comprised of neutral members whose job is to make an investigation and submit to the president, within 30 days of its creation, a fact-finding report with non-binding recommendations for procedures or terms on which a dispute might be settled. During this period, the parties must maintain the status quo (a second 30-day cooling-off period).

Upon submission of the PEB report, the parties are required to maintain the status quo for an additional, or third 30-day cooling-off period (they may mutually agree to extend the period of status quo). The non-binding recommendations of the PEB are expected to carry the weight of public opinion and induce a voluntary agreement among the parties.

At this point, the RLA has run its course. If no agreement has been reached, either side becomes free to act in its own economic interests -- a work stoppage (or strike) by labor, a lockout by management, or unilateral implementation of management proposals (that generally would force a work stoppage).

However, Congress frequently imposes its own settlement. Such congressional action is not part of the RLA. The constitutional authority for Congress to impose its own settlements is found in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution's commerce clause.

 

Below is a quote from Referee Robert Harris.  

Arbitrator Robert O. Harris told the United Transportation Union (UTU) and railroads in 1991, then unable to agree at the bargaining table, “Welcome to the oldest established craps game in Washington. Like the suckers in ‘Guys and Dolls,’ you are risking your futures on the roll of the dice [when you fail to make a voluntary agreement].” This was from a copy of Railway Age. 

 

I hope you find this informative and useful.

 

Ronnie Rhodes

 

 

BLET General Chairman

Tentative 2017 Contract

https://www.ble-t.org/pr/news/newsflash.asp?id=6004

The Tentative Agreement, which will be submitted to the memberships of each involved Union in the coming weeks, includes an immediate wage increase of 4%, with an additional 2.5% six months later on July 1, 2018 and an additional 3% one year later on July 1, 2019. In addition, wage increases of 2% effective July 1, 2016 and another 2% effective July 1, 2017 will be fully retroactive through implementation, for a compounded increase of 9.84% over an 18-month period and 13.14% over the 5-year contract term (this includes the First General Wage Increase of 3% implemented on January 1, 2015).

All benefits existing under the Health and Welfare Plan will remain in effect unchanged and there are no disruptions to the existing healthcare networks. While some employee participation costs are increased, the tentative agreement maintains reasonable maximum out-of-pocket protections for our members. The TA also adds several new benefits to the Health and Welfare Plan for the members of the involved unions and, importantly, it requires that the Rail Carriers will, on average, continue to pay 90% of all of our members’ point of service costs.

On a matter of critical importance, the employees’ monthly premium contribution is frozen at the current rate of $228.89. The frozen rate can only be increased by mutual agreement at the conclusion of negotiations in the next round of bargaining that begins on 1/1/2020.

File attachments: 
AttachmentSize
PDF icon CBG_BLET_Initials.oct_2017.pdf1.03 MB

Teamster Election Information

Electronic Device Change

I received this email from the Portland Service Unit. 

Good Afternoon Team,

Today we received the new SSI that will go into effect on May 2, 2016. In looking at the changes I found one that will impact us and our past practices.  Please review Rule 2.21 Electronic devises.  The major parts that you need to know about the change are as follows.  

Personal Electronic devices must be powered off with any ear piece removed from the ear, and properly stowed whileON DUTY.

After conducting a safety briefing with all crew members and agree the limited use of the device is safe to do so.  Cell phone can only be use for voice communication (no texting, social media, etc )

An operating employee may use an electronic device when:

1.        Deadheading in a non controlling unit or automobile.

2.        In a crew room to update rules or other documents specified in SSI Item 7-A or other required company provided electronic media only.

Rule 2.21

I received this email from the Portland Service Unit. 

Good Afternoon Team,

Today we received the new SSI that will go into effect on May 2, 2016. In looking at the changes I found one that will impact us and our past practices.  Please review Rule 2.21 Electronic devises.  The major parts that you need to know about the change are as follows.  

Personal Electronic devices must be powered off with any ear piece removed from the ear, and properly stowed whileON DUTY.

After conducting a safety briefing with all crew members and agree the limited use of the device is safe to do so.  Cell phone can only be use for voice communication (no texting, social media, etc )

An operating employee may use an electronic device when:

1.        Deadheading in a non controlling unit or automobile.

2.        In a crew room to update rules or other documents specified in SSI Item 7-A or other required company provided electronic media only.

We used to be able to use a cell phone while on duty in a crew room.  The way the rules department has outlined rule 2.21 this will no longer be allowed.  When coming on duty your device must be stowed away and turned off.   We are communicating this change in an effort to spread the word as quickly as possible.  Should there be any updates or changes to this rule again in the coming weeks I will be sure to get them to you as well.  The service unit will be conducting a communication stand down in the coming weeks to help bring attention to this change as well.

 

I have talked to the head of rules in Omaha and this is the position that is being taken.  While in the crew room your are not allowed to text, play games, be on social media, surf the web, etc.  The second bullet on the email is the only time the cellphone can be utilized to the internet.  This can only happen after there is a job briefing with all crew members.  This rule is considered a critical rule and a violation will result in MAPS. 

Vacation Settlement Award

After waiting almost a year, we finally have the Vacation Settlement Award.  You can no longer be punished for extending your vacation 48 hour pursuant to the agreement.

Weed was so pissed he wouldn't even sign the award, oh well.  It only take 2 signatures to make it a binding award and we have those.

Ronnie

File attachments: 
Attachment Size
PDF icon Vacation Settlement Award Arbitrator Kohn.pdf 6.95 MB

Training and Education

Brothers and Sisters,

We made a commitment at the GCA meeting to train our representatives.  I need any newly elected Local Chairman or Vice Local Chairman to sign up for the classes that will be held in Cleveland.  The GCA will pay delegate days, expensenes and travel to attend these meetings.  

It is very important that we get this training done so we will have the best representatives on the UP.

We are also training the S/T officers, we got a lot of those done in December but we still need to send a few.

We have a lot of younger Members getting interested in the Union, I love that.  If we stick together we can make some real changes.  

I am asking each of you to attend your Union meetings if you are in town and make your voices heard, if we don't know what the problem is we can't try to fix it, we may not always be successful but you can believe we will give it our best try.  

Only the Members can make the Union stronger, please take time to attend your meetings.

Ronnie Rhodes

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