Union Says Call Center Relocation Talks Slow

Union leaders say negotiations with Amtrak over the planned closing of a reservations center in Riverside, California, have gotten off to a slow start with the two side far apart.

Jack Dinsdale, national vice president of the Transportation Communications Union, which represents the Amtrak reservation center workers said the two sides are talking about relocation expenses for up to 500 call-center employees.

Amtrak has said it plans to close the facility on Jan. 18, 2019. Employees will be given the opportunity to relocate to another call center located in Philadelphia.

Dinsdale said union negotiators are trying to ensure that workers do not have to make a decision about moving to Philadelphia on very short notice.

“We’re not close to anything, and nothing’s certain,” Dinsdale said. “I am of the opinion that we have a long way to go.”

The union has said that an appropriate relocation allowance would be $12,000 but Dinsdale said Amtrak has proposed offering half that amount.

When Amtrak in 2003 closed a reservations center in Chicago it offered a $7,500 allowance to workers who agreed to move to Riverside.

An Amtrak spokesperson would not comment on the talks other than to say they were in an early stage.

In the meantime the union is seeking to prod California elected officials to put pressure on Amtrak.

“The main thing is, we’re trying to give our people enough time,” Dinsdale said. “When they closed the Chicago office they gave those people six months.”

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