Open Letter To The BLET Membership On The Tentative Agreement For Freight Engineers.
September 29, 2022
Dear BLET Brothers and Sisters:
The BLET National General Chairmen’s Association (NGCA) includes General Chairmen from Class 1 freight, commuter and passenger, and short line railroads. Put briefly, those officers are the designated BLET representatives for our members on their railroad properties. Each one has an affirmative duty to negotiate and enforce collective bargaining agreements and represent our members in all grievances related to their respective CBAs and disciplinary matters.
In handling negotiations for a new national freight agreement, the General Chairmen on properties where the Carrier is bargaining nationally give their bargaining authority to the National Wage Committee pursuant to internal BLET law. However, that does not result in the involved General Chairmen being excluded as a party to the bargaining process. Instead, as is the case today, our Bylaws properly provide for three (3) Association members to serve on the National Wage Committee when negotiating national agreements.
Upon reviewing the tentative agreement, as proposed, the National Wage Committee voted unanimously to send it to the membership for ratification in the early morning hours of Thursday, September 15th. Furthermore, given the critical importance and potential impact of the proposed agreement to all General Committees, the NGCA convened to review the tentative agreement, and for the purpose of sharing this letter of advice to the membership. During that meeting, the participating General Chairmen also voted unanimously to put the proposed agreement out in standard ratification form in order to ascertain the will of the membership as to whether the agreement should or should not be ratified.
Both of those unanimous votes were predicated on the fact that the tentative agreement includes improvements on the PEB recommendations, which in all likelihood would have been imposed absent those improvements gained before the strike deadline on September 15th. Moreover, the fact that nine (9) other rail Unions have already agreed to tentative agreements based solely on the PEB recommendations cannot be overlooked when considering the steps that Congress is clearly prepared and certainly willing to take in order to avert a national railroad strike, which would bring immediate economic harm to the entire country.
The NGCA stands by the decision made by the National Wage Committee for sound reason as every General Chairman knows well the intricacies and extreme difficulty in negotiating agreements with adversarial carriers whose sole interest is protecting their railroad and minimizing economic impact of new agreements. We also fully understand how the collective bargaining process works in practical terms, which are typically standard. So, when further improvements to PEB recommendations are achieved, which is not usually the case, and the National Wage Committee is satisfied that everything within the Union’s reach at the bargaining table has been addressed, and all negotiating efforts have been exhausted, the next step is automatically triggered pursuant to our governing Bylaws. At that point, the National Division has a duty to place the fate of the issue in the hands of the membership. That form of democratic ratification process has served the Brotherhood well and has long stood as the cornerstone of our Union.
To be perfectly clear, this letter is not at all intended to tell members how to vote during ratification. Alternatively, our purpose here is simple. Our guidance herein is solely intended to better inform the membership as to how a national wage movement works by identifying those who play a role in the process and the procedural steps that must be taken in accordance with our Bylaws, in order for our members to make fully informed decisions when casting their ballot. And we genuinely hope this information is received accordingly.
Lastly, as the balloting process approaches, we strongly urge every member to take advantage of their right to vote in favor or against the tentative agreement. Furthermore, if members have any uncertainty about the terms and conditions found therein, they should apply to their local or general committee for more specific guidance. On behalf of the BLET National General Chairmen’s Association, in solidarity we remain
Mark B. Kenny
Concurring NGCA Members:
M. B. Kenny, Chairman, NGCA, GCA 30, Amtrak
R. Cunningham, Western Vice Chairman, NGCA, GCA 40: BNSF (AT&SF)
L. Thurman, S-T, NGCA, GCA 180: BNSF (STL&SF)
G. Sturdivant, Southeastern Vice Chairman, NGCA, GCA 810: Norfolk Southern-South
P. Lyons, Eastern Vice Chairman, NGCA, GCA 70, CSX-Northern Lines
J. Balonek, GCA 620: Metra
Gary Best, GCA 720: CSX-Eastern Lines
Art Blakey, GCA 670: Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corp
Jim Brown, GCA 555: New Jersey Transit Rail Operations
Brian Carr, GCA 780: Union Pacific-Western Lines
Chip Cole, GCA 222: Indiana & Ohio
Dick Crow, GCA 280: Union Pacific-Central Lines
Dewayne Dehart, GCA 590: Norfolk Southern-Northern Lines
Pat Driscoll, GCA 300: Conrail/CSX-ND
Billy Evans, GCA 390: Canadian National/Illinois Central
Randy Fannon, GCA 580: Norfolk Southern-Eastern Lines
Jeff Hamilton, GCA 666: Utah Railway
Eric Hau, GCA 910: Canadian National/Wisconsin Central
Don Hill, GCA 715: Southeastern Penn Trans Authority
John Karakian, GCA 360: Canadian National/Grand Trunk Western
Keith Kerley, GCA 740: CSX-Western Lines
Joe LaDrig, GCA 233: Huron & Eastern
Chad Lambert, GCA 860: Union Pacific-Eastern District
Steve Leyshon, GCA 900: Union Pacific-Western Region
James Logan, Jr, GCA 480: Union Pacific-Southern Region
Troy Martin, GCA 160: BNSF (C&S/CRI&P/FWD)
Ron Mills, GCA 830: Tacoma Municipal Belt Line
Kevin Moore, GCA 120: D&H/PanAm-ST/SL&A/NYS&W/CSOR/NERC
Kent Psota, GCA 150: BNSF (MRL)
Ronnie Rhodes, GCA 490: Union Pacific-Central Region
Pete Semenek, GCA 290: Canadian Pacific Railway-US
Kevin Sexton, GCA 420: Long Island Railroad
David Spradlin, GCA 410: Kansas City Southern/Louisiana &Arkansas
Daniel Wells, GCA 400: Indiana Harbor Belt
Michael Ball, GCA 845: Kansas City Southern/Texas Mexican