Posts Tagged ‘railroad labor unions’

VIA Workers Ratify New Contract

May 21, 2021

Members of Unifor Local 100 have ratified a third collective agreement with VIA Rail Canada.

The union represents 700 VIA maintenance workers.

The two-year agreement, which runs from Jan. 1, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2021, is similar to other agreements that were previously ratified.

The agreement includes a 2 percent wage increase for 2021, benefits improvements and the review of several work rules.

VIA Workers Approve New Contract

March 19, 2021

The 1,600 union workers at VIA Rail Canada have ratified tentative agreements with the passenger carrier reached in January.

The workers belong to Unifor, which reached a two-year agreement with VIA calling for a 2 percent wage increase, benefit improvements, and a review of several work rules.

“We are delighted by the ratification of the collective agreements. Our employees are key contributors to VIA Rail’s success, without whom the fulfillment of our mission to put our passengers first would not be possible,” Martine Rivard, VIA chief employee experience officer, said in a statement.

“I would like to thank Unifor’s representatives and national president, Jerry Dias, as well as the negotiating teams and conciliator. The determination and professionalism of everyone involved led to fair and reasonable agreements despite the unique challenges faced over the last year.”

Excursion Trains Draw Some Opposition From Union

March 19, 2021

A proposal by tour train operator Rocky Mountaineer to launch service between Denver and Moab, Utah, has drawn opposition from a railroad labor union.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen told the U.S. Surface Transportation Board it opposes some aspects of the service.

In particular, the union is disputing Rocky Mountaineer’s request for an exemption “from virtually the entirety of the Interstate Commerce Act as amended by the ICC Termination Act.”

Although the union acknowledged that some exemptions are appropriate it said those sections dealing with safety, efficiency, and fair wages and safe and suitable working conditions remain relevant, and the company should not be exempted from them.

 “The board has a duty to ensure that [American Rocky Mountaineer’s ]operations are safe, that ARM does not negatively impact safe and efficient operations of [Union Pacific, which will host the trains], and that ARM’s operations are not detrimental to public health and safety,” the filing states. “… ARM should only be exempted from specific provisions that truly do not apply to its operations, and where ARM is truly different from other carriers,” the union said in its filing.

VIA, Union Reach Tentative Agreement

February 2, 2021

VIA Rail Canada said it has reached a tentative agreement for a two-year contract with Unifor, which represents the carrier’s more than 2,400 workers in stations, maintenance centers, administrative offices and on board trains.

The pact must be approved in a ratification vote of union members.

Unifor and VIA had agreed last March to delay collective bargaining talks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The two sides resumed talks in the fourth quarter of last year.

The contract between VIA and Unifor had expired at the end of 2019. The latest agreement would replace that expired pact.

Amtrak, Unions Seek ‘No Ride’ List

January 15, 2021

Amtrak and two labor unions are urging the federal government to create a “no ride” list similar to the “no fly” list maintained by the Transportation Security Administration.

The proposal was made in the wake of rioting on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol in which a mob invaded the building and sent members of Congress and their staffs seeking shelter.

“There is nothing more important than the safety of our employees,” Amtrak CEO William Flynn said in a statement.

“Since the start of the pandemic, our dedicated front line employees have kept our trains running, providing a vital transportation service to essential workers,” he said.

“We join our labor partners in continuing to call upon Congress and the Administration to make assaults against rail workers a Federal crime, as it is for aviation workers, and to expand the TSA’s ‘No Fly List’ to rail passenger service.”

The two unions that called for the “no ride” list included the International Association for Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers-Transportation Division, and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.

The unions sent their request seeking an emergency order to the Federal Railroad Administration and Department of Homeland Security.

The unions noted that there are no laws or regulations that penalize those who interfere with or do harm to members of train crews.

Nor is there a screening process for passengers similar to that conducted by TSA agents at airports.

The FAA in the meantime has announced that it is tightening enforcement of its rules for how airlines will handle unruly passengers aboard flights.

That action followed multiple reports of members of Congress being verbally harassed and threatened about flights and in airports.

Union Urges Caution Among its Members

June 24, 2020

A union representing track maintenance workers is urging its members to take precautions while working to avoid contracting COVID-19.

The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division of the Teamsters also took aim at Amtrak and Chicago commuter railroad Metra for being negligent in testing and tracing employees for COVID-19.

The union said there has been a rash of positive coronavirus cases among its members at several railroads, estimating 109 members have been affected by a coronavirus exposure.

Of those 15 individuals tested positive and remaining 94 are in a self-contained quarantine.

In a statement, union officials said doctors expect many of those in in quarantine will test positive in the coming days.

Those workers were employed by Amtrak, BNSF, CSX, Canadian National and Norfolk Southern.

Three union members have died from COVID-19.

The union said some of the spread of COVID-19 has come from post-work socializing. It urged its members to be more cautious by isolating and separating as much as possible.

“Go outside to hang out. Keep some distance,” the union told its members.

In the meantime, some union members have established informational picketing in front of the home of Amtrak board chairman Anthony Coscia.

An Amtrak spokeswoman said the passenger performs contact tracing in accordance with federal Center for Diseases Control guidelines and performs no-expense testing for those with symptoms or possible exposure.

However, the union said social distancing is often impossible in its work and it wants monthly testing as well as temperature screenings before work.

After accusing Metra of putting employees and passengers at greater risk, the rail commuter railroad said in a statement that the union’s views were “distorted.”

Mediation Board Proposes Union Removal Rule

February 5, 2019

The federal National Mediation Board is considering a rule change that its backers have described as creating a “straightforward election process” to decertify union representation at airlines and railroads whose labor relations are governed by the Railway Labor Act.

The proposed rule is being supported by Republican members of the Board, Gerald W. Fauth III and Kyle H. Fortson. Both were appointed by President Donald Trump.

Opposed was Democrat, Linda A. Puchala, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama.

In a statement, Fauth and Fortson said the rule change reflects their view that the there is a need to ensure that employees have a say in their representative and that they do not face unnecessary hurdles for employees who no longer wish to be represented by a union.

The change would make decertification rules similar to those of other employers governed by the National Labor Relations Act, which allows workers to decertify a union in favor of no representation.

This can be done on a facilities by facilities basis whereby workers at one facility of a company are represented by a union by employers are another are not.

Under the RLA, though, union representation for railroads must be systemwide on a craft or class basis.

Where there is a union shop agreement that mandates that employees must join the labor union as a condition of continued employment, employees may opt out of paying any portion of union dues beyond the audited direct costs of the union negotiating wages, benefits and working conditions on their behalf.

The proposed NMB rule describes the current procedure of removing an incumbent union as “indirect”—a “straw man” process by which “employees with current representation seeking a decertification election must submit authorization cards seeking representation by an individual employee who must be listed by name.

“If straw man cards are submitted representing at least 50 percent of the employee group, an election is directed, allowing employees to vote for their current representative, the straw man, no union, or a write-in option. In order to decertify, employees must vote for ‘no union’ or for the ‘straw man’ who, once certified, can subsequently disclaim interest,” the explanation of the proposed rule states.

“Under the proposed rule, employees would be able to submit authorization cards stating the intention to decertify. If cards are submitted representing the intent of at least 50 percent of the employee group to decertify, the Board will authorize an election with the current representative and ‘no union,’ along with a write-in option.”

Public comments on the proposed rule is being taken through April 1 with a public hearing to be held at a yet unspecified date.

Amtrak Workers Demand Meeting With Anderson

July 24, 2018

Members of Amtrak’s labor unions are demanding a meeting with CEO Richard Anderson to discuss changes being made at the carrier.

The workers are members of the Amtrak Service Workers Council, a coalition of unions representing Amtrak’s on board service employees who are unhappy about onboard service changes the carrier has made, in particular the ending of full-service dining on the Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited.

Some union members who are represented by Transport Workers Union of America, UNITE-HERE, and the Transportation Communications Union/International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, staged a protest rally recently at Amtrak headquarters in Washington.

The unions are planning similar protests in New York and Chicago.

Anderson briefly spoke to union officials on July 18 and what was said at that time in dispute.

The unions contend that Anderson told the workers to set up a meeting with other Amtrak executives.

But in a statement, Amtrak contends that Anderson intends to meet with the workers to discuss the railroad’s plans to “upgrade the quality of our food and create a more contemporary style of service on some of our long distance trains.”

The unions and Amtrak are also at odds as to the effect of the food service changes.

Amtrak contended in its statement that employees affected by the change have been able to find new positions within the company.

But union officials counter that in reality jobs have been lost and the Amtrak statement fails to present a full picture of how employees have been affected.

John Feltz, a vice president for the TWU, said one Amtrak chef who previously worked on the East Coast now has is working out of New Orleans and being forced to spend more time away from his family getting to and from his assignment.

“Anderson says that no one is going to lose their jobs but he’s 100 percent wrong about that,” Feltz says.

Starting on June 1, Amtrak replaced full-service dining with boxed meals in a program it billed as “contemporary and fresh dining choices” that cater to the needs of a new generation of travelers and improve efficiency and costs.

Union members are also angry about how Amtrak management gave its members little warning of the change.

Feltz says Amtrak told the union in mid-April that it was considering a change to on board service and it wanted to get the views of union members before it announced the changes.

But hours later Amtrak went ahead with its plan to replace hot meals with cold boxed-meals.

Union officials are concerned that ending traditional dining service on two East Coast long distance train is the first step in an effort to eliminate more amenities aboard Amtrak’s long-distance trains.

“They’re trying to run this railroad like an airline,” Feltz said in a reference to Anderson’s previous job as CEO of Delta Airlines.

Signal Workers OK Pact With Amtrak

May 15, 2018

Members of the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen have ratified a new contract with Amtrak, which became effective May 3

The agreement covers nearly 700 members who work in the communications and signal departments.

In a news release, the BRS said the new pact calls for wage increases through 2021 and retroactive back pay, which is expected to be paid before July 1.

Each member’s monthly health-care contribution was slightly decreased and will remain frozen until changed in the next round of bargaining.

New benefits include a new-hire alternative health-care plan starting in 2019.

Amtrak, BRS Reach Tentative Contract Agreement

March 20, 2018

Amtrak and the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen have reached a tentative contract covering wages and fringe benefits.

BRS said in a news release that the pact calls for a wage increase through 2021, with an 18.8 percent compounded increase over the life of the agreement.

Also, the new contract calls for freezing the monthly health care contribution, with new benefits provided. It also establishes a new-hire alternative health care plan.

BRS members must vote to ratify the agreement before it goes into effect.