|ONLINE VERSION||NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2000|
|After the railroads presented their
outrageous new demand calling for the unilateral right to subcontract
any and all railway construction work — which would potentially
eliminate up to 50% of BMWE members' jobs — the BMWE immediately
requested a proffer of arbitration from the National Mediation Board.
Although it had been clear for months that the railroads wanted to protract negotiations beyond the presidential elections in November to avoid a Clinton-appointed presidential emergency board, the railroads "regressive and mean-spirited proposal of June 28 put in sharp relief that the impasse had already existed," said BMWE President Mac A. Fleming. Even though it must be obvious to the assigned mediators that bargaining is deadlocked -- evidenced by the fact they did not schedule further talks after the BMWE declared impasse -- the three-member NMB still refuses to proffer arbitration.
And even worse, in late October when the NMB finally contacted the BMWE, it was not to advise that arbitration had been proffered, but to advise that bargaining dates had been scheduled the week after the elections. It appears that the NMB members are trying to deny the existence of an obvious impasse.
It is also feared that by scheduling bargaining sessions, the NMB members may be trying to suggest that the tentative agreement the United Transportation Union announced that it had reached on September 22 with the railroads be used as a guideline or worse.
The UTU settlement is clearly inappropriate for the BMWE.
Speaking to the UTU general chairmen (who endorsed the proposed contract) on October 12, UTU President Charles Little said he was "very pleased to report that we have accomplished our goals in this round of bargaining by creating a new and better pay system that opens the door to the future by securing equal pay for all employees without reducing pre-1985 earnings levels."
The "pay system" that Little was referring to has no relation to any provision in the BMWE national agreement and there is no basis on which any reasonable argument could be made that this operating craft agreement should serve as some sort of "pattern" for non-operating railroad workers.