May 25, 2007:Rail Teamsters have launched a campaign to vote down the proposed national BLET agreement.
"It’s a bad deal. The new contract says we’ll pay more for our healthcare, and it says we owe the carriers thousands of dollars each,” said Ed Michael, a member of BLET Div. 724 on the Union Pacific. “We can do better. That’s why I’m voting No.”
Under the new agreement, engineers will pay 15 percent of their healthcare premiums every month. And there's no cap until 2010.
The new deal also means engineers will pay more at the doctor and the drug store. The contract raises co-pays for a doctor’s visit from $15 to $20 a visit. For a specialist, the cost goes up from $15 to $35. At the drug store, generics will go up from $5 to $10, and brand names from $10 to $20.
The new contract requires engineers to pay back their COLA raises since 2005. The new contract says that the raises were just a loan. If the contract passes, most engineers will pay more than $2,000. “What a joke,” Michael said. This amount will be deducted from their retro pay.
The new agreement may help the carriers expand remote control operation. A side agreement on the BNSF railway would allow engineers to operate a locomotive remotely with a belt pack out on the mainline when outside a company yard. The side agreement will only take effect if the majority of BNSF Teamsters vote for the national agreement.
Teamsters from TDU and Railroad Operating Crafts United (ROCU) are working to win a stronger agreement.
"Ballots are in the mail now. Now's the time to get the word out," said Ron Kaminkow, a member of BLET Div. 51 in Reno, Nev. "We're getting 'Vote No' flyers out in break rooms, on bulletin boards, and in locomotives. We're going to spread the word far and wide." Kaminkow is a member of ROCU's steering committee.
Help spread the word. Download a Vote No flyer from ROCU.
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