NRLC arbitration board issues health care ruling

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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A National Railway Labor Conference arbitration board ruled May 23 that the pattern health care terms adopted by the freight railroads and nine of the unions in national bargaining should also apply to the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes (BMWE) and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) – Mechanical Division.

These two unions had previously agreed to the other terms of the pattern agreement, which now covers 137,000 of the 145,000 employees in the current bargaining round. The board further ordered a reduction in the retroactive pay of covered employees to cover the cost to the carriers of delay in the implementation of the pattern health care terms.

BMWE and SMART-Mechanical Division represent more than 28,000 employees in this bargaining round.

The following unions previously concluded negotiations with the railroads:

  • American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA)
  • Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen (BLET).
  • Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS).
  • Brotherhood of Railway Carmen (BRC).
  • International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers ─ Transportation Division, including Yardmasters (SMART – TD).
  • International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Blacksmiths, Iron Ship Builders, Forgers and Helpers (Boilermakers).
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).
  • National Conference of Firemen and Oilers (NCFO).
  • Transportation Communications International Union (TCU).

The railroads remain in mediation with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), which represents about 5% of the employees in this bargaining round.

“We are pleased the board recognized that the negotiated changes to health care should apply to these two unions as well, and that the costs to the carriers of implementation delay should be addressed,” said A. Kenneth Gradia, Chairman of the National Carriers Conference Committee (NCCC), the bargaining representative for the railroads. “The award affirms the importance of consistent health care terms for freight rail employees and should lead to the resolution of negotiations with the remaining union.”

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