Members who work for the Connecticut Southern, the Ohio Central/Columbus & Ohio River Railroad and the New York, Susquehanna & Western Railroad all have ratified contracts that provide wage increases, health and welfare benefits and improved union protections. The three separate properties fall under the jurisdiction of the BLET's New York, Susquehanna & Western General Committee of Adjustment, headed by General Chairman Ben Martin.
BLET National President Dennis Pierce said, "The BLET has led the way in organizing and negotiating contracts in the shortline industry in recent years. Our brothers and sisters who work for shortline railroads are an integral part of our brotherhood and they take great pride in the dignity and respect that comes from their strong union contracts. I offer my sincere congratulations and thanks to General Chairman Ben Martin, assigned Vice President Willard Knight and the numerous members of the three negotiating teams for bringing these negotiations to a successful conclusion."
Additionally, UTU members employed by New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority and working in numerous crafts on Staten Island Railway have a new agreement retroactive to January 2007, following an award by a state arbitrator.
Negotiations had dragged for nearly six years, leading to the arbitration award. Under New York State's Taylor Law guiding public-employee labor relations, strikes are not permitted.
According to the UTU, the arbitrator, appointed by the state, rejected a request for a six-year agreement, meaning the almost 42-month agreement he imposed is already up for amendment and UTU officers on the railroad are preparing to begin a new round of wage, benefits and rules negotiations even as members await retroactive pay under the arbitrated agreement.
Affected by the arbitration award are conductors, engineers, track maintenance, third-rail power, equipment maintenance, signal and electrical craft employees all represented by the UTU.
General Chairperson Tom Wilson and International Vice President Delbert Strunk, who assisted in negotiations and the arbitration, said the award includes full retroactive wage increases, additional sick days, union release time, night and weekend differentials, pension plan improvements and a new grievance and arbitration procedure.