Pacific Harbor Line, BLET sign pact

Written by Douglas John Bowen

Short line Pacific Harbor Line, Inc. (PHL) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) announced Monday, July 15, 2013, they have signed a new five-year labor agreement covering PHL's operating and maintenance of way employees.

The pact was “overwhelmingly ratified by PHL employees and signed July 4 at the railroad’s Family Day celebration,” the parties said in a joint statement. The deal includes “significant wage increases, employee contribution to health care, as well as modification of some rules concerning profit sharing, overtime, the selection of job assignments, and productivity,” the statement said.

Pacific Harbor Line, Inc. provides railroad switching services to customers in the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, the busiest U.S. ports in terms of volume. It also dispatches all BNSF Railway and Union Pacific trains within the ports. PHL, the Railway Age 2009 Short Line of the Year, is a subsidiary of Chicago-based Anacostia Rail Holdings.

BLET’s Division 214 in Long Beach, Calif., has represented PHL’s employees since the railroad was formed in 1998. Union employment on this property has grown from 27 employees initially to nearly 120 in the past 15 years.

Said PHL President Otis Cliatt II, “This was a win-win agreement reflecting teamwork, persistence and determination by both parties. PHL and its workforce are committed to providing stellar freight railroad service to the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and the San Pedro Bay Port community.”

“Sometimes the wheels of progress move slowly and it took us a few years to get this agreement right,” said BLET General Chairman Bill Hannah. “But in the end, the company made some essential changes and we negotiated the best agreement possible for our membership, which allowed us to achieve ratification.”

Hannah said a key component of the agreement is an enhanced profit sharing provision, which greatly improves the earning power of BLET members.

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