BLET Logs Four Tentative Agreements, One Ratified Contract

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) has reported reaching tentative agreements with Canadian Pacific’s Soo Line, Kansas City Southern (KCS), Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern (DM&E), and Union Railroad; and unanimously ratifying a new collective bargaining agreement with Illinois Railway.

According to BLET, the tentative contract agreement with Soo Line, a CP subsidiary, is similar to the 2022 national agreement, and includes a 22% General Wage Increase (GWI) over the five-year life of the agreement (3%, 3.5%, 7%, 4% and 4.5%), plus five $1,000.00 annual lump-sum bonus payments to be made over the life of the agreement. When compounded, the GWI equates to 24% and will increase approximately 300 members’ straight-time hourly rate to $61.98 by September 2024, the union said.

Class I carriers represented at the bargaining table in 2022 by the National Carriers Conference Committee were BNSF; CN; CSX (although it negotiated wages and work rules separately with SMART-TD and BLET); KCS; Norfolk Southern; and Union Pacific. CP has negotiated separately with all of its unions.

BLET said it has mailed ratification ballots to all eligible Soo Line members; they are due March 10.

BLET did not provide details for the tentative implementing agreement for KCS and CP subsidiary DM&E, but said it would become effective only if the Surface Transportation Board approves the proposed CP-KCS merger; a decision is expected next month. The agreement applies to all locomotive engineers employed by the DM&E; all active members in Division 527; and those employed by the Gateway Western within the Consolidated Territory, which comprises tracks from Ottumwa, Iowa, to Pittsburg, Kans., and East St. Louis, Mo., according to BLET. Ballots have been mailed and are due March 3.

(Transtar Photograph)

The tentative contract agreement with Union Railroad, a Transtar switching operation in the Pittsburgh, Pa., area, governs rates of pay, health and welfare, and work rules for BLET members working in the locomotive engineer craft, who are part of BLET’s Division 16. BLET said it has mailed ballots to eligible members, and they are due March 3.

The newly ratified five-year collective bargaining agreement between BLET and OmniTRAX’s Illinois Railway in Ottawa, Ill., covers rates of pay, work rules, and health and welfare for approximately 50 engineers and conductors. The contract provides “fully retroactive general wage increases of 22% over the life of the deal,” BLET reported. Additionally, members “will now earn overtime pay (at one and one-half times) after eight hours instead of after 50 hours under the previous contract. The new contract guarantees all members will be eligible for five weeks of vacation (25 days) after 11 years of service, two paid personal days, an additional holiday, and secured overtime rates of pay for working rest days and holidays. Additionally, the BLET secured the removal of the wage step rate and incorporated training pay and a 30-minute lunch period.”

In other labor developments, the United Steelworkers union (USW) Local 1976, which represents approximately 600 administrative support and intermodal workers at CP, announced Feb. 9 that it reached a new tentative agreement with the Class I.

In a precedent-setting move for the railroad industry, CSX on Feb. 7 reached agreements with the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED) and the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen (BRC) for paid sick leave, and on Feb. 10 added the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) and National Conference of Firemen and Oilers (NCFO). The eight remaining unions, it is believed, will eventually accept the agreement.

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