The September Newsletter will be hitting the mail next week. All BURNOR members of Dist. 100, 200, 300, and MRL will be receiving a copy if you do not receive one at your house. Please let us know!
Bargaining for the National Rail Contract resumed in September but acceptable terms for a settlement remain elusive. At our recent bargaining session the Carriers finally acknowledged, at least in part, that a redesign of our Health Plan’s “Network locations” could result in substantial savings to the GA23000 plan. There is disagreement on the amount of money that might be saved, but, for the first time, the Carriers agree that a savings would result. Redesigning the “networks” is not without concern because changing “Network locations” could mean, (but not always) that a Member would have to change “network” Doctors to keep “in network” benefits. It has been BMWED’s firm position from the start of this bargaining round that the employees “paid” for Health Care in the last round and we do not want to “pay again.” As a result, BMWED has worked hard, with our Health Care experts, to find savings in the “Plan” without reaching into the Member’s “pocket” or reducing their benefits. Both sides will have its healthcare “experts” continue working together between meetings in an effort to “agree” on the amount of possible savings to the Health Plan and to cost out the value of the “Plan design changes” proposed by the Carriers. It’s time consuming, but given the dollar value of potential savings, it’s very important work.
The fact that BMWED has identified a significant amount of healthcare money that could be saved by redesign of “plan Networks” did not deter the Carriers from proposing its “Plan design changes” that would result in substantial increases in deductibles, coinsurance, copays, prescription copays, restriction to benefits and a monthly employee contribution to $275 per month . The Carrier’s “defense” to its greedy demands remains the same as it was in the last round. That is, it is the Carrier’s view that you simply have too much healthcare and you do not pay enough. They say your Plan needs to be “mainstreamed.” That means, you should have less coverage and pay more like so many other workers. We disagree and find the Carrier’s current proposals completely unacceptable.
Over the top bad healthcare proposals were not the only outrageous proposals made by the Carriers at the last meeting. The Carrier’s proposed general wage increases of 2% per year July 2016 to July 2019. And they proposed complete elimination of any restrictions to contracting out public road crossing work including ties, crossing surface, approaches, flagging and the rest. The Carriers also proposed eliminating all restrictions on contracting out building construction, repair, maintenance, all and every part of such work. The Carriers proposed Intercraft Incidental work rules to allow any other Craft the right to perform BMWED work, if they are able, and vice versa.
Lastly, the Carrier’s proposed seniority restriction rules providing that being considered “qualified” by the Carrier would supersede seniority and if an employee is given training by the Carrier they will be “locked into” the position for an extended period of time.
As you can see, there is much more work to be done. Regular bargaining sessions are scheduled for the remainder of the year and there will be breakout groups working in an effort to narrow the issues. BMWED prefers to reach a voluntary agreement with the Carriers. But, given the limitations of the Railway Labor Act, if we cannot come to agreement, our “bargaining” eventually winds up before a Presidential Emergency Board appointed by the President of the United States, whoever that may be. Oh boy, hang on, more to come, and don’t forget to vote!