August 1, 2014

UTU, BLET ratify pacts on MBCR

BOSTON — UTU-represented conductors and assistant conductors on Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad (MBCR) have ratified a four-year agreement covering wages, benefits and working conditions.

The agreement is retroactive to July 2009, and may be reopened for amendment in July 2013 under provisions of the Railway Labor Act.

BLET-represented engineers on MBCR also ratified a new four-year agreement. 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.

Included in the UTU amended agreement with MBCR 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).

The agreement also includes an increase in compensation for release-time — from the decades-old 50 percent of the full-time rate to 62.5 percent.

UTU International Vice President John Previsich, who assisted with the negotiations, commended General Chairperson Roger Lenfest and Assistant General Chairperson Dirk Sampson (both, Amtrak, GO 769), along with Local 898 Chairperson Don Wheaton “for their participation in securing substantial improvements to wages and working conditions in today’s difficult economic environment.

“It is through their extraordinary efforts that the negotiating team was able to add groundbreaking enhancements such as conductor certification pay and increased pay for release time,” Previsich said.

The Transportation Communications Union and shopcrafts previously were released from mediation with MBCR by the National Mediation Board, but the sides have returned to the bargaining table.

MBCR, operated under contract by Veolia Transportation, transports more than 131,000 riders daily between Boston and outlying areas.