Friday, January 06, 2012

BLET members ratify national contract

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By a margin of better than two-to-one, members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen approved a new collective bargaining agreement with the National Carriers' Conference Committee.

The five-year agreement covers health and welfare and other fringe benefits for more than 30,000 BLET members nationwide and rates of pay and work rules issues for a smaller number. It includes general wage increases of 18.6 percent over the life of the agreement and a lump sum retroactive payment.

The agreement is retroactive to January 1, 2010, and covers locomotive engineers employed by the following railroads: Belt Railway of Chicago; BNSF (H&W only); Conrail; CP Rail-US (Soo Line); CSX Transportation (H&W only); Indiana Harbor Belt; Kansas City Southern System (KCS/L&A, Gateway Western, MidSouth, South Rail and Tex Mex); Longview Switching; Portland Terminal; Union Pacific (H&W only); and Winston-Salem Southbound. It also covers all train service employees on the Texas Mexican Railway.

The agreement largely reflects the recommendations of Presidential Emergency Board 243, which was appointed on the eve of a pending nationwide strike by BLET members.

The BLET's National Wage Committee, led by National President Dennis Pierce, then secured a Flexible Spending Account benefit to help offset any possible increased costs associated with the health and welfare.

"I want to thank those who took the time to cast their vote. The BLET is a membership-driven union and our members show their strength every time they get involved," Pierce said. "With the backing of a strong mobilization effort, we had a very solid turnout, considering balloting took place during the holiday season. With almost 70 percent of those voting casting a vote in favor of the agreement, it also is clear to me that our members took the time to study the issues before making a very careful choice."

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