Norfolk Southern: Early Agreement Hits the Rails

November 9, 2007: The BLET Norfolk Southern General Committees have negotiated an early deal with the carrier—over two years before the current on-property agreement is set to expire.

Here’s what’s in the tentative contract:

Wages. The deal increases wages 2 percent in 2008; 2 percent in 2010, 2011, and 2012; 2.5 percent in 2013; and 3 percent in 2014. There is no wage increase for 2009. Those wage increases won’t be enough to keep up with inflation.

Bonus. The contract continues the controversial NS bonus program, but it reduces the amount of the bonus from 15 to 10 percent for 2010, 2011, and 2012. The program pays out only if the company reaches its financial goals. This extra money is not counted toward pay increases—so it does not build over time.

This year engineers are likely to get only a third of their potential bonus. One engineer complained about the bonuses on the web: “We assume all the risks and the NS risks ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.”

Vacation. The new agreement increases vacation time, but it also adds restrictive new language that could take away vacations from some engineers off work for illness or disability. Plus, the company will stop counting overtime toward days worked for vacation.

Scope Agreement. The contract guarantees engineers work outside of the yard. But it fails to guarantee the work of yard engineers. Remote control operation—jobs guaranteed to the UTU—has already eliminated many engineer jobs in the yard. Over a period of time, the new agreement even concedes control over the conventional engines within yard limits.

“Why are we signing this agreement now?” asked Hugh Sawyer, local chairman in BLET Div. 316. “No member has been consulted about this contract. We have two more years to go. We should use that time to win a stronger agreement—including wage gains and quality of life improvements that have already been won on other railroads.”

The current on-property agreement expires in 2009. The tentative agreement would run until the end of 2014.

Ballots are already in the mail for rail Teamsters to decide on the tentative agreement. Ballots have to be received by December 5.

Teamster engineers who want to send negotiators back to the table should vote No on this tentative agreement.

Click here to contact TDU's National Rail Chapter.

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