July 29, 2014

UTU, rails in tentative new five-year agreement

A tentative new five-year national rail agreement covering wages, benefits and working conditions has been reached between the UTU and the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC).

The tentative agreement is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2010, and extends through Dec. 31, 2014.

The tentative agreement, which amends the existing national agreement, must be ratified by each affected UTU craft under the craft-autonomy provisions of the UTU Constitution. The existing national agreement remains in force under provisions of the Railway Labor Act.

Details of the tentative agreement are being withheld pending their presentation at a June 2 meeting of the Association of General Chairpersons – District 1. General chairpersons will then have 15 days to submit written questions. The questions and answers will be provided to all members prior to the ratification vote.

Railroads represented by the NCCC include BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific and many smaller railroads. Some 38,000 UTU members are affected by the tentative new agreement.

This is the first agreement reached in this round of national bargaining with the NCCC. It was reached, voluntarily, without need for mediation. However, two members of the National Mediation Board — Elizabeth Dougherty and Linda Puchala — served as facilitators during the two most recent rounds of talks between the UTU and the NCCC, leading to this tentative agreement.

UTU International President Mike Futhey thanked his negotiating team for “their hard work and long hours. I am confident our general chairpersons will react positively when the details of this agreement are presented to them.”

In addition to UTU lead negotiator Futhey, the negotiating team includes Assistant President Arty Martin; National Legislative Director James Stem; UTU International Vice Presidents Robert Kerley and Delbert Strunk; and General Chairpersons John Lesniewski (CSX, GO 049), Pate King (NS, GO 680) and Doyle Turner (CSX, GO 347).

Futhey also praised retired UTU General Secretary & Treasurer Dan Johnson for his emphasizing, early in the process and through a series of opinion articles published on the UTU website, the value of interest-based bargaining whereby both sides strive to understand the needs of the other.

“Interest-based bargaining worked well for the UTU in reaching a ratified national agreement in 2008, and interest-based bargaining was instrumental again this round in guiding both sides to a voluntary tentative agreement,” Futhey said.

Other labor organizations — bargaining as part of two separate coalitions — remain in negotiations with the NMB, and mediation has been invoked in those separate talks.

One coalition includes the Transportation Communications Union, the American Train Dispatchers Association, the International Association of Machinists, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and the Transport Workers Union.

A second coalition still negotiating with the NCCC includes the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes, the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, the Brotherhood of Boilermakers and Blacksmiths, the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers, and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association.