Days after its deal to become a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway holding company, BNSF Railway said it forged a tentative multi-year labor contract agreement with its train engineers.
BNSF said its accord with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen – the second-largest rail labor group after the conductor-based United Transportation Union – “will settle wage and work rule issues through Dec. 31, 2014. Health and welfare issues, however, will be addressed in upcoming industry-wide negotiations.”
While the railroad said BLET will release details to union members as it prepares for a ratification vote, it also said the deal includes “a general wage increase in each year of the contract, all the while reflecting today’s economic realities.”
In September, United Steelworkers’ Local 1976 based in Montreal ratified a three-year contract with Canadian Pacific Railway that raises wages three percent in 2010 and 2011 but leaves pay unchanged in 2012.
After Berkshire on Nov. 4 said it was buying out the 77 percent of BNSF it does not yet own, BLET Acting President Paul Sorrow said he told Matthew K. Rose, BNSF chairman, president and CEO, “that, in large part, it is the continued hard work of BLET locomotive engineers and all other union workers that has made BNSF Railway such an attractive investment target for Mr. Buffett. It is the BLET’s position that the contribution of BLET members must be recognized during the upcoming round of contract negotiations.
With the wage contract now decided, Stephen Speagle, the BLET vice president assigned to work with BNSF, said “the agreement is not all we wanted” but gives union members “the security of a five-year agreement, additional income and additional time off without a single giveback or rule change.”
BSNF’s John Fleps, vice president for labor relations, said the accord also builds on earlier contracts to include “innovative compensation arrangements and progressive work rules that have done much to position our company and locomotive engineers to reap the benefits of new technology and generally share in a strong future.”
Contact John D. Boyd at email@example.com.