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Thursday, December 22, 2011

BLET reaches tentative agreement with Amtrak

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Ballots will go out this week to members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen employed by Amtrak for a new collective bargaining agreement. The tentative five-year deal would provide members with 10 general wage increases totaling 14 percent, compounding to 15 percent, over the life of the contract.

If ratified, the agreement would govern more than 1,400 locomotive engineers who operate Amtrak's passenger and commuter trains over its 21,000-mile, 46-state route system. The proposed agreement would run through January 1, 2015, with retroactive pay to July 1, 2010.

The agreement caps employee cost sharing amounts for health and welfare coverage at $181.62 per month (as of July 1, 2011), $210 (July 1, 2012) and $230 (July 1, 2013). Additionally, vision care coverage and medical coverage is extended up to age 26 for eligible dependents.

The BLET also obtained three revisions to work rules. Rule 3(h) has been changed to give passenger engineers greater flexibility in how they exercise their seniority. Engineers will be able to take a second week of vacation in single days. Also, the biannual Optional Displacement rule in effect outside the Northeast Corridor will be expanded to include Work Zones 1 and 2. Other work rules for BLET members will essentially stay the same under the new agreement - an important victory considering the Carrier's initial position.

"When negotiations first commenced Amtrak was pursuing several unfavorable work rule concessions and relaxation of existing agreement rules," BLET General Chairman Mark Kenny said. "In each of those instances we were successful in forcing the carrier to retreat. As a result, we were able to present to our members a collective bargaining agreement absent any major work rule concessions and a wage package that will raise the rate of pay."

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