UP-SR GCA members urged to vote YES on Tentative National Agreement

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, November 13 — The following is a letter from Union Pacific-Southern Region General Chairman Dana Marlow and his Vice General Chairmen encouraging their members to vote in favor of the Tentative National Agreement.

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November 6, 2017

Brothers and Sisters of the BLET UP SR General Committee of Adjustment, 

As all should be aware, we are currently in the process of considering a proposed National Agreement for ratification by our members. Please allow me a few moments of your time to share some thoughts about what this proposal means for our future.

While most look right at money when considering this proposal, which amounts to a compounded value of 13.14% over the life of the agreement and exceeds the increase of cost of living, my thoughts are what the future brings. We are two years from beginning this whole process again. For me, there are two very important pieces in this proposal that serve to protect our craft and future negotiations.

The fact we have successfully avoided any changes to our current Work Rules and any increase to the monthly employee contribution to Health and Welfare benefits is huge. As I said, when we return to the bargaining table two short years from now, the negotiating begins at our current rate of $228.89, and not the inflated figure the carrier’s proposed.

• This proposal includes a compounded GWI of 13.14% which includes the 3% increase from January 1, 2015. Members will receive a 2% increase effective July 1, 2016, a 2% increase effective July 1, 2017, another 2.5% effective July 1, 2018, and a final 3% on July 1, 2019.

• That 2% increase from July 1, 2016 to July 1, 2017 and the 2% on increase from July 1, 2017 to ratification will be subject to backpay, which would be paid in late January 2018.

• This proposal protects our current work rules, somewhat of a rare occurrence in the modern-day rail industry.

• This proposal freezes monthly member contributions for Health and Welfare Benefits throughout the life of this contract, and during the negotiations of the next. Brothers and Sisters, in a world of ever increasing costs for healthcare from the doctor’s office to the surgery room to the pharmacy, avoiding any increase to our monthly contribution is a very big deal.

• This proposal provides for an increase in our flexible spending account and removes minimum participation percentages going forward. This flexible spending account increase can be used to offset those small increases to the out of pocket and deductibles under the plan. The plan also includes a new option, Telemedicine — doctors available 24/7 with a Convenient Care Clinic copay of $10.00. The use of Telemedicine will save on trips to the doctor and associated lost earnings as well as out of pocket expenses.

A little over 30 years ago, our Brothers and Sisters were faced with a similar set of circumstances with our National Agreement. Instead of voting on that proposal, it was decided that arbitration may be the better option. Little did we know that the arbitration award that settled the 1986 National Agreement would have far-reaching effects on work rules that continue to haunt us today. Later in 1991, Congress settled our national agreement, with a similar outcome where work rules given to the Carrier would negatively impact us — even today.

There is no returning to the bargaining table at this point. We can cast a YES vote to ratify, or we can exercise our right in the democratic process and reject the proposal. However, keep in mind that the next step will more than likely be a Presidential Emergency Board (“PEB”). President Trump will have sole authority to appoint the PEB to investigate the dispute, and he can appoint anyone he wishes to the PEB. There is little reason to doubt, a Trump-appointed PEB would consist of a group of corporate minded, anti-union CEOs who couldn’t care less about us, or our issues. We have every reason to believe the Carriers’ offer to the PEB would be similar, if not worse, than what we saw a couple of months ago. There is absolutely no reason to doubt the work rule changes the NCCC is looking for will be in the offer, and no reason to believe a PEB would not recommend some, if not all, of them. If a PEB issues a recommendation and we reject that recommendation, then Congress would be poised to settle our agreement. Brothers and Sisters, that is a frightening thought! Just look at the discombobulation and inept decisions being made daily by Congress. We should not place our futures in the hands of this Congress to write our agreement! Brothers and Sisters, this is not fear-mongering, it is the reality we face.

We have a decision to make. Do we want to voluntarily settle this agreement and live to fight another day, or do we want to allow the government to settle it, and live with the consequences for decades to come?

In the very near future you will receive voting instructions and each of our members will have an opportunity to cast a vote for the future of our craft. A YES vote will insure we move forward under our current Work Rules and each member receives a significant pay increase upon ratification as well as a backpay check, and sees no increase to his or her monthly contribution for Health and Welfare Benefits.

Brothers and Sisters, in closing we simply ask each of you, in your private time, in your private place, read this tentative agreement, consider the ramifications of complacency, and contemplate the long-term effect of placing your future in the hands of a Congress that does not understand what you do, when you do it, or the sacrifices you and your families make every day. We ask that you remove the emotion from the conversation, push the fake news aside, and review the facts, research the history, and make an informed decision.

Dana Marlow
General Chairman
BLET UP SR

James Logan Jr.
Vice General Chairman

Scott Alexander
Vice General Chairman

Fernando Paz
Vice General Chairman

Monday, November 13, 2017
bentley@ble-t.org