|ONLINE VERSION||JUNE/JULY 1999|
|News In Brief|
|Conrail Carved-Up Effective June 1
What has been called the "Closing Date" by Norfolk Southern, the "Split Date" by CSX, and the date of "The Transaction" by both NS and CSX, was the date of the final carve-up of Conrail by the two railroads. On June 1, NS and CSX began to operate Conrail's routes and assets, in a transaction which Barron's called "the most complicated Transaction in U.S. railroad history, covering 45,000 miles of tracks and 72,789 workers." NS acquired 58% of Conrail and will now employ 34,000 workers, have 21,600 miles of track and extend to 22 states as well as the District of Columbia and the province of Ontario. CSX acquired 42% of Conrail and will go from 29,000 to 34,500 employees, from 18,300 to 22,700 miles of track and run through an additional three states for a total of 23. The so-called "Shared Asset Area" of Conrail, jointly owned by NS and CSX, includes trackage in Detroit, Philadelphia and parts of New Jersey. When the ballots were counted on April 26 for CSX and May 3 for the former Conrail, BMWE members had ratified implementing agreements by 9-1 and 4-1 margins, respectively. The agreements resulted from negotiations held following the disastrous Fredenberger award (issued on January 14) which imposed the carriers' proposal word for word. "This unjust and mean-spirited decision" which included "the arbitrator's assault on seniority district size and subcontracting" placed BMWE bargainers in an extremely difficult position from which to negotiate but some improvements were won.
Florida East Coast Agreement Ratified
Negotiations with the Florida East Coast Railway, newly organized last year, produced a tentative agreement in early May that was overwhelmingly ratified by BMWE FEC members. The pact calls for significant wage increases, including skill and equity wage adjustments in recognition of MofW increased levels of skill, over a six-year term as well as significant improvements in health care and other benefits.
CN/IC Agreement Signed
The existing contract on the Illinois Central Railroad due to expire January 1, 2000, has been extended to the year 2003 after ratification by a 4-1 margin of the members voting. Shown at the signing of the agreement on June 15 are, seated, left, J. S. Gibbins, Director, Labor Relations, Illinois Central Railroad and Hayward J. Granier, BMWE General Chairman of the Illinois Central Gulf Federation. Standing are, left, Lawrence A. Triche, BMWE First Vice Chairman-Secretary-Treasurer, ICG Federation and Richard A. Lau, BMWE Vice President, Southeast Region.
The agreement preceded the Surface Transportation Board's announcement on May 25 that it had issued a written decision approving the merger terms of the Canadian National and Illinois Central set in a 3-0 vote by STB commissioners on March 25. The "end-to-end" merger (spanning the central part of the U.S. from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico) caused the reorganization of the two railroads effective May 1 in Canada and July 1 in the United States.
The BMWE had signed an implementing agreement with the proposed CN/IC on October 5, 1998, at which time President Mac A. Fleming noted, "This is the first merger of Class 1 railroads that the BMWE ever actively supported. That fact is testimony to the merits of this implementing agreement." Gibbins said, "the BMWE was the first organization to step forward and support the merger. It is always better to reach a voluntary agreement than to invoke the Railway Labor Act processes."
The extension of the agreement comes from "the type of negotiations that bridge us into the next millennium," said Granier and added Lau, "this agreement nullifies the uncertainties that the huge mega-mergers in recent years have left us with."
Effective June 1, 1999, the BMWE Monon System Division (General Chairman Larry Phillips) consolidated with the Allied Eastern Federation (General Chairman J. R. Cook). This action was completed by each System's separate Joint Protective Board action. Most members of both systems work on former railroads that are now part of CSX Transportation, Inc.
Look For The BMWE Logo
While glancing through a photography magazine, Mike Thomas, BMWE Colorado State Legislative Director, noticed the BMWE sticker on the hard hat of the unknown MofW worker in this Kodak ad.
Red River Valley Railroad Historical Society
In their April newsletter, the Red River Valley Railroad Historical Society initiated an on-going series called "Organized Labor Within the Railroad Industry" beginning with an article on the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes. The Society's Paul J. Cirulli said, "the Shreveport/Bossier City, Louisiana area has a rich and colorful railroad history. From the beginning, both communities have been 'Railroad Towns,' which still holds true today. With such a vast presence, a small group of local railroad enthusiasts came together in September 1981 to form the Red River Valley Railroad Historical Society." The Society is currently working to secure a long-term lease of the Texas & Pacific Railroad Station owned by the City of Shreveport to house their large railroad memorabilia collection, railroad reference library (which includes issues of BMWE JOURNALs), and railroad photograph collection. Anyone interested in the Society can contact them at 7749 Womack Road, Shreveport, Louisiana 71107, (318) 929-1800.
BLE Ends Unification Talks With UTU
On May 10 the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers announced that it had terminated talks with the United Transportation Union to unify the two unions. In a press release that day, the BLE said that "the decision, approved unanimously by the BLE Advisory Board, came after BLE President Clarence V. Monin warned that the failure of the UTU to address financial questions and their potential grave consequences in a timely and forthright manner was a serious breach of the Statement of Principles the two unions developed as a basis for creating a new organization." In the June UTU News, UTU President Charles L. Little, responded, "make no mistakes about it: BLE politics, not UTU finances, scuttled unification," and referred to the recall campaign being mounted against Monin. Immediately after BLE's announcement, the UTU reinstituted its petition to the National Mediation Board, asking for a representation election on the Union Pacific Railroad. At this JOURNAL goes to press, pre-hearings were scheduled for late June, hearings for early July, and legal briefings in August. The NMB is under no time constraint in which to make a decision.
Look, Listen and Live
On behalf of the Rail Labor Division of the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department, Chairman Robert Scardelletti (also president of the Transportation Communications Union), recently wrote each Senator, urging them to support Senate Bill 712, the Look, Listen and Live Stamp Act. This legislation would promote education activities on safe driving behavior and raise public awareness of risks at our nation's highway-railroad grade crossings. Highway-railroad grade crossing accidents are the principal source of all fatalities and injuries on the nation's railroad system. While there was a slight decline in fatalities in 1998 from 1997, last year still saw 422 individuals killed and approximately 2,000 injuries in nearly 3,500 grade crossing collisions. The bill authorizes a special rate stamp with a highway-railroad grade crossing safety message to be issued by the U.S. Postal Service. A portion of the revenues from stamp sales would go to Operation Lifesaver -- a non-profit organization which has been effective in educating the public on safe driving behavior and risks at highway-railroad grade crossings.
Just Health Care
On June 6 the Labor Party officially kicked off its Just Health Care campaign with a nationwide radio call-in program. A panel comprised of labor leaders who are also Labor Party members first discussed what ails our health care system and then detailed the Just Health Care proposal. In the second hour, panelists took calls from listeners around the country. The radio program was the beginning of an intensive campaign that will include the creation of a "Committee of a Million" for Just Health Care; ads in local papers signed by committee members; local hearings on what's wrong with our health care system and how it can be fixed; local and state referenda; and "anything else local Labor Party activists can cook up, so long as it is consistent with the program adopted at the Labor Party's First Constitutional Convention in November 1998." Articles in future issues of the BMWE JOURNAL will discuss the Labor Party's program in detail.