May 9, 2007: Teamster engineers on the CSX lines have ratified an agreement that swaps wage increases for performance bonuses.
Under this agreement, BLET members on the CSX won’t be covered by the national wage agreement with the carriers—and by the end of the agreement, their base wage rate will fall well behind the national rate.
Engineers will get a base pay increase of three percent and a $2,500 bonus at signing. They will receive a six percent bonus in 2007, eight percent in 2008, and 10 percent in 2009—but only if CSX reaches its financial goals.
At the end of the agreement, base pay will be the same as it was in the beginning. That means engineers will make no gains in wages over the life of the contract, and they’ll be starting from scratch when it’s time to negotiate a new contract.
In 2009, engineers under the national agreement will be making 18 percent more than they make now. CSX engineers will still only make three percent more in base pay, and they’ll get a 10 percent bonus if they’re lucky.
“We’ve tried a bonus system for a couple of years on the Norfolk Southern,” said Hugh Sawyer, local chairman of BLET Division 316 in Atlanta. “The problem is that you have no control over determining whether or not you hit the bonus. And at the end of the agreement, you’ve made no progress on your base wage. I’m not against bonuses—but they should be gravy on top of a decent wage increase.”
Apparently many CSX engineers thought giving up wage increases was a bad idea, too—over 40 percent of them voted to reject the new bonus plan. The new agreement won approval with a vote of 1,580 for and 1,113 against. The agreement covers CSX’s Eastern, Western, and Northern Lines, but not the Conrail SAA/CSXT general committee.