Q&A for the National negotiating team.

Send me the questions you want answered  to

Whiplashtrain@msn.com

I will compile questions for the next 8 days and send them off to the GCA  on 10/03/2022, for further handling to the National.

Please read the letter to all LC’s from GC Kent Psota attached below. 

All GCA 150 Local Chairmen,

By now all of you have had time to read and digest the attached letter from BLET President Pierce. To make sure that all of you have a chance to have your individual or your members questions submitted for answers and further clarification, please note the process that GCA 150 will administer to field these questions.

I would ask that each of our Local Chairmen compile the list of their division questions into one single comprehensive document. (Email Word or PDF is fine with us at the GCA) In your judgement, and when you believe that document appears to be complete and a good representation of the questions asked, please then submit that document to the GCA. The GCA office will then take the various documents submitted from the LC’s and condense them into a single document we will then send to the National Wage Team for answers. That does not mean if a question comes in at the last minute you should not send us that inquiry, absolutely do send it, but we at the GCA are preparing for a busy week compiling all of these questions into a single document for National Wage Team handling. Several of the questions received so far have been somewhat repetitious and that is to be expected, but the only “bad” question is the one which goes unasked, so if you have any inquiry now the time to ask. The GCA requests you to have these inquires submitted to us no later than October 4th, so all inquiries can make the docket.

I also want to direct you to the language in President Pierce’s letter indicated in bold font below:

As for the process going forward, General Chairmen  have fifteen (15) days from receipt of this letter to submit questions to my office pertaining to the terms of the attached TA. Those questions will then be consolidated  into a single document, and the National Wage Team will return to the bargaining table with SMART-TD and the Carriers to mutually agree upon the answers to those questions.

What this means is that the GCA is not going to be the final authority in answering these questions, nor is it the GCA’s jurisdiction to do so. The National Wage Team and the ND attorneys will be tasked with getting the comprehensive and concise final answers in their talks with the Carriers. While I recognize there’s a million questions, please note that only the National Wage Team can make determination of the final answers which will then be included in the forthcoming Tentative Agreement Q&A’s. That does not mean that we at the GCA cannot share our concerns with the Wage Team if asked, but we at the GCA will not be final authority on any of the answers given.

More updates to follow as things progress.

Fraternally,

Kent

Message from Dennis Pierce

September 19, 2022

All General Chairmen

Re: Tentative Agreement

Dear Sirs and Brothers:

VIA ELECTRONIC MAIL
Phone: 216. 241.2630
Fox: 216.241.6516
www.ble-t.org

As you know, we reached a long overdue tentative agreement with the Nation's freight rail carriers
early this past Thursday morning. This letter is to continue to provide you with information
regarding these recent events and our next steps in the coming days. As you know, our Advisory
Board, National Wage Team and the involved members of the National General Chairmen's
Association were brought into the bargaining process in the early morning hours on Thursday with
all participating officers agreeing that the time had come to allow the members to determine if the
terms of the tentative agreement were acceptable. The right of the membership to ratify contracts
is one of the core democratic principles of our Union and the time for that opportunity has come.
Early next week, we will begin a "question and answer" period alongside SMART-TD, when they
have reached that step in our internal processes. Although SMART-TD has utilized this process
for many national contracts, BLET utilized this same "Q&A" process for the first time as part of
our last national agreement ratification process. The additional clarification gained from this new
BLET process, will provide more information for the membership as to the terms and conditions
of the tentative agreement before they cast their vote. The process also provides our General
Committees with clearer and stronger Agreement language should later disputes arise over that
agreement language.

The process allows the affected General Chairmen fifteen (15) days to submit questions to the
National Division pertaining to the terms of the tentative agreement. Those questions will then be
consolidated into a single document, and the National Wage Team will return to the bargaining
table with SMART-TD and the carriers to mutually agree upon the answers to those questions.
Once those steps are completed, the tentative agreement, including the parties' agreed-upon
Q&As, will be submitted to our membership for ratification pursuant to Section 41(a) - General
Committee Rules of the BLET Bylaws.

While we know that our members are eager to learn more about the details of the tentative
agreement, the Q&A process will take three (3) to four (4) weeks to complete. The voting period
will then run for approximately three (3) to four ( 4) weeks with electronic voting provided, 
as was done in our last national contract ratification. We are working now to finalize the timeline of
events for the ratification process, and you will be advised when the final timeline has been set.
In order for these events to take place, and as happened following PEB 243 in 2011, the parties
have agreed to extend the cooling-off period for a period of time sufficient to complete our
ratification process. I know from our strike vote and our memberships' involvement in the process
as we approached the end of the cooling-off period that the membership was fully prepared to
strike on Friday morning had we not reached a tentative agreement for their consideration and I
thank them all for their solidarity; I would have been on the picket line with them. But rest assured
that the right for our membership to exercise self-help in the form of a strike has not been taken
from the membership. Should the agreement not be ratified, we will find ourselves again running
that clock down to the expiration of the extension and a possible strike in the coming weeks. In
the meantime, we will be working to provide the membership with additional information
consistent with the process noted above. That process will allow all members to have the
documents in their hands for sufficient review and consideration, along with a clear understanding
of their options going forward before they cast their vote.

Before going further, we all owe a debt of gratitude to the BLET members who took the time to
reach out to congress last week, asking them to stay out of our dispute last week. On the heels of
that mobilization effort, and with the support of IBT General President O'Brien and General
Secretary-Treasurer Zuckerman, over 100 IBT lobbyists joined BLET's Washington DC Office
and our participating BLET State Legislative Board Chairmen in Washington DC in a true "boots
on the ground" push to get our message to the Hill, our thanks to all them as well. I am certain
that this BLET/Teamster involvement in reaching out to Congress is in large part why no action
was taken by it while we bargained this week.

But even so, we must be cognizant that attempts were made in the U.S. Senate to impose the
straight recommendations of the Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) while we were at the
bargaining table. Senator Burr (Rep-North Carolina) sought unanimous consent from the Senate
to impose the recommendations of the PEB with no improvements. Had that been successful, it
would have immediately stopped our attempts to improve on those recommendations. Senator
Sanders (Ind-Vermont) stood in defense of our membership, blocking that effort, which allowed
us to stay at the table and gain improvements on the straight PEB recommendations, and I have
personally conveyed our thanks to the Senator.

In the end, it is the members that will decide if the improvements we gained over and above the
PEB recommendations warrant a yes vote. Whether we like the Railway Labor Act or not, it is
the federal law that governs this process. As I have often said, when rail carriers refuse to give the
membership a voluntary agreement that they would accept, the dispute advances to the federal
government by law. That is where we find ourselves now. Once all of the details of the tentative
agreement are known and the membership casts their vote, a yes vote will settle our dispute
knowing what we have obtained, a no vote could return it to potential self-help actions and 
ultimately intervention by Congress. As it should be, the membership will control which option
we follow.

Please feel free to share this information with the officers and members of your General
Committees and State Legislative Boards. While our post-PEB polling did not shine a favorable
light on the straight PEB recommendations, it did indicate that many of our members felt that they
should have the right to make the ultimate decision by voting on a tentative agreement. The
National Wage Team and participating General Chai1men all agreed that now was not the time to
deprive the membership of their democratic right to do that. Our tentative agreement includes
improvements over the straight PEB recommendations, and it is our members who will decide if
those improvements are sufficient.

With warmest personal regards, I remain


Dennis Pierce

Update from GCA office in Ft Collins Co.

THIS IS THE LATEST UPDATE  AS OF 09/17/2022 AT 12:43 PST

Steve Snyder, 509-570-8065

All GCA 150 LCs,

This is the very latest info concerning the Tentative Agreement:

Early next week a Question and Answer phase of the process will start. This is the same process that was used for our last National Agreement. The General Chairmen will be provided with the Tentative Agreement and will have approximately 15 days to review and discuss the proposal with our Local Chairmen.

Questions concerning the TA will then be sent to the National Division to seek clarification, if needed. Once the questions are compiled, there will be a meeting with the Carriers to get written answers to those questions. The Q&A process will be completed alongside SMART TD. The Q&A process will take somewhere between 3 and 4 weeks to complete.

Once it is completed, the remaining steps of GCR 41(a) (Contract Procedures), of the BLET Bylaws will be followed, including a synopsis of the agreement being mailed each voter eligible member along with a ballot.  Also as done in our last National Contract ratification, it is intended to use True Ballot to allow for electronic membership voting over a 3 to 4 week period.

Everyone will be given sufficient time to fully review and understand the tentative agreement before voting.

As soon as our GCA office receives a copy of the Tentative Agreement, we will begin steps to discuss this document with all of our GCA 150 Local Chairmen.

Tentative Agreement Reached Early This Morning

Statement by
Jeremy Ferguson, President
SMART Transportation Division
and
Dennis Pierce, President
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen
Teamsters Rail Conference
on
Tentative Agreement Reached Early This Morning Between Unions Representing Conductors and Engineers and the Nation’s Class I Railroads

Early this morning following nearly three years of bargaining, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), a Division of the Rail Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART-TD) reached a tentative National Agreement with the nation’s largest freight rail carriers which includes wage increases, bonuses, and no increases to insurance copays and deductibles. For the first time our Unions were able to obtain negotiated contract language exempting time off for certain medical events from carrier attendance policies. Our Unions will now begin the process of submitting the tentative agreement to the rank and file for a ratification vote by the memberships of both unions.

The tentative agreement calls for an immediate wage increase of 14% once compounded with an additional 4% on July 1, 2023, and 4.5% on July 1, 2024. In addition, wage increases of 3% effective July 1, 2020, 3.5% effective July 1, 2021, and 7% effective July 1, 2022, will be fully retroactive, for a compounded increase of 24% over the 5-year term of the agreement. The agreement also includes annual lump-sum bonus payments totaling $5,000.

The parties’ Health and Welfare Plan point-of-service costs will remain unchanged; there will be no increases to copays or deductibles and there are no disruptions to the existing health care networks. After over 20 hours of negotiations, we were able to reach an agreement that freezes our members’ monthly health care contributions at the end of the agreement. No additional increases will apply to our monthly contributions while the parties bargain over the next National Agreement.

The solidarity shown by our members, essential workers to this economy who keep America’s freight trains moving, made the difference in our Unions obtaining agreement provisions that exceeded the recommendations of the Presidential Emergency Board. We listened when our members told us that a final agreement would require improvements to their quality of life as well as economic gains. As a result, this agreement includes agreement provisions that will create voluntary assigned days off for members working in thru freight service, and all members will receive one additional paid day off. Most importantly, for the first time ever, the agreement provides our members with the ability to take time away from work to attend to routine and preventive medical care, as well as exemptions from attendance policies for hospitalizations and surgical procedures.

This tentative agreement provides for the highest general wage increases over the life of the agreement in over 45 years. SMART-TD was successful in blocking the carriers’ attempts to fast track arbitration on crew-consist agreements, protecting two-person crews for the indefinite future. The Carriers’ demands for increases in point-of-service health care costs were blocked, along with their demands to charge married employees with children more for monthly health care contributions. Retroactive application of general wage increases and performance bonuses will provide our members with meaningful back pay checks in the coming weeks.

This agreement would not have been reached without the hard work of President Biden, Labor Secretary Walsh, Deputy Secretary Julie Su and others in the administration. Congressional leaders, including Senators Schumer, Durbin and Sanders, along with Speaker Pelosi listened to your requests and stayed out of our dispute, allowing for an agreement to be reached across the bargaining table, rather than through legislation.

This contract will not become final until our members have an opportunity to review its terms and approve it through a ratification vote.

Combined, the BLET and SMART-TD represent approximately 125,000 active and retired rail employees, approximately half of our membership is employed at Class I railroads that are party to this agreement.

October Regular Meeting

Date: October 19th, 2022
Time: AM

Spokane Valley Eagles
16801 E Sprague Avenue
Spokane Valley, WA 99037