By a better than three-to-one majority, members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen ratified a new collective bargaining agreement with Montana Rail Link (MRL) on November 20. The agreement covers approximately 400 members.
The agreement provides for six general wage increases totaling 18.6 percent, a compounded value of 20.1 percent, during the life of the agreement, which runs through April 1, 2016. Members will also receive a $1,500 signing bonus. Wage increases were effective December 1, 2012 and include retroactive payments for affected employees.
The agreement also governs numerous work rules and employee health and welfare benefits. The agreement maintains a provision that two locomotive engineers will remain in the cab on trains operating in road service. It also calls for various other provisions, including an increase in meal allowances effective April 1, 2013.
The previous contract expired in April of 2011.
Headquartered in Missoula, Mont., MRL is a Class 2 regional railroad that consists of more than 900 miles of track serving more than 100 stations in the states of Montana, Idaho and Washington. It connects with Union Pacific at Sandpoint, Idaho, and with BNSF at Laurel and Garrison, Mont., as well as Spokane, Wash.