National Bargaining Update: Voluntary Agreement Not Possible This Round

Published: Sep 28 2017 5:45PM

National Bargaining Update from September 27, 2017 

The SMART-Mechanical/BMWED coalition resumed negotiations with the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC) on September 27, 2017 in Chicago, Ill. A member of the National Mediation Board also presided.

Following three years of negotiations, it is unfortunately clear that the cost of a voluntary agreement is not worth the price of admission.  The railroad carriers are demanding plan design changes that include individual deductibles of up to $700, coinsurance of 20 percent, and employee contribution increases as high as $275 per month. Any type of proposal that includes those changes is unacceptable -- especially when our coalition has identified plan design changes that save hundreds of millions of dollars without concessions from either side. Needless to say, union officials do not accept the railroads' offer as fair and equitable, union rank-and-file would not ratify it, and the carriers proposed real wage gains do not come close to bridging the gap.

Therefore, it is apparent, given the position of the railroads, that there is no room for a voluntary agreement that would include real general wage increases while maintaining the status quo with regards to health and welfare.  Today, our coalition notified the NCCC and the NMB that we have reached an impasse.  We will be prepare for a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) as we wait to be released by the NMB.  In the coming weeks, we will be coordinating with our executive board and local union officers to prepare our rank-and-file members for the next steps of this process.