BOSTON — Some 450 UTU-represented conductors and assistant conductors on Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad (MBCR) have a tentative new agreement covering wages, benefits and working conditions.A ratification vote is currently underway, with ballots to be counted March 17.
The tentative four-year agreement is retroactive to July 2009, and may be reopened for amendment in July 2013 under provisions of the Railway Labor Act.
Included in the tentative agreement are retroactive pay, a signing bonus, a 13.7 percent overall increase in wages by July 2013, certification pay for conductors, a cap on health care cost-sharing, and a provision that discipline records will not be retained beyond a maximum of 36 months (other than substance abuse violations, which are subject to record-keeping under federal law).
Noteworthy in the tentantive agreement is an increase in compensation for release-time — from the decades-old 50 percent of the full-time rate to 62.5 percent.
The agreement was negotiated by UTU General Chairperson Roger Lenfest and Assistant General Chairperson Dirk Sampson (both, Amtrak, GO 769), with assistance from International Vice President John Previsich. Praised was Local 898 Chairperson Don Wheaton for his input and participation in all aspects of the negotiations.
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen has reached a separate tentative agreement with the MBCR. The UTU and the BLET negotiated jointly to reach those separate craft agreements, with the expectation that a better agreement for each craft would result if negotiations were held jointly.
The Transportation Communications Union and shopcrafts recently were released from mediation with the MBCR by the National Mediation Board, but a presidential emergency board (PEB) has yet to be appointed.