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

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December Regular Meeting

Date: December 21st, 2022
Time: AM

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