Three More Unions Ratify Rail Contracts

Members of three unions representing about 33,170 employees have ratified new contracts with the largest U.S. freight railroads, the National Railway Labor Conference (NRLC) has announced.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen (BLET), the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers (NCFO), and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) began negotiations with the National Carriers' Conference Committee (NCCC) in January 2010. Their approval of the agreements, which implement recommendations made by Presidential Emergency Board No. 243 (PEB 243), bring the number of ratified contracts to seven. Five other unions have reached tentative agreements that their members must ratify.

BLET members approved their agreement by a margin of better than 2-to-1, with almost 70% of those voting supporting the agreement, according to BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce. The agreement is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2010.

IBEW railroad members showed even stronger support, ratifying their agreement by a vote of 75% in favor and 25% against in a vote tallied on Jan. 4 by the IBEW Railroad Department, with the assistance of the Railroad General Chairmen from System Councils 2, 6, 9, and 16.

"The month-long ratification process has finally come to an end, and our members have made a wise decision," said IBEW President Ed Hill in the union's announcement. "This agreement, reached in record time, will provide our members with a decent standard of living well into the future."

NCFO members overwhelmingly favored ratification, with over 87% of those voting approving their agreement, the union said.

The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes (BMWE), the only union that has not reached an agreement with the railroads, did agree to an extension of the cooling-off period until Feb. 8, 2012, to allow more time for negotiations.

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