BLET members ratify Amtrak contract

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By a nearly 4-to-1 margin, members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen ratified a new collective bargaining agreement with Amtrak. Ballots were counted and the final tally was 77.5 percent in favor and 22.5 percent against.

The five-year deal provides members with 10 general wage increases totaling 14 percent, compounding to 15 percent, over the life of the contract.

The agreement governs more than 1,400 locomotive engineers who operate Amtrak’s passenger and commuter trains over its 21,000-mile, 46-state route system. The contract runs 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.

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