Binding Arbitration Concludes

Published: May 8 2018 3:55PM

Binding arbitration between the BMWED-IBT and SMART-Mechanical bargaining coalition and the National Carriers' Conference Committee (NCCC) have concluded. Yesterday and today, our bargaining committee, led by President Simpson and lead negotiators Brothers Don Griffin and Peter Kennedy, made our case in front of neutral arbitrator Gil Vernon.

Before this round of bargaining began, BMWED established an internal healthcare bargaining committee consisting of elected officers, appointees and our retained healthcare experts.

Their task was to devise ways to save the healthcare plan substantial dollars without cutting benefits. We believe, and intended to prove in this week's arbitration, that the committee succeeded in its task. The BMWED/SMART-Mechanical coalition proposed what is called the “357 Plan." That plan simply looks at the existing medical network providers, United Healthcare, Aetna and Highmark, and puts employees in the lowest cost network operated by one of these existing vendors in each of the 357 standard metropolitan statistical areas in the country. No benefits are changed and the “disruption” - meaning the number of employees who might have to change primary care physicians - is about the same as the current rate that employees have to get new doctors because they leave existing networks under the Plan.

Most notably, the 357 Plan would save the National Health & Welfare Plan as much as $140 million annually. Those savings would not come out of the membership's pockets.

We made our case, the Class 1 railroads made theirs, and now we will wait for the neutral to render a decision. We expect that to take a few weeks, with a final decision potentially by the end of May. Please check back here for updates as they occur.