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Amtrak labor relations update

Passenger Rail Bargaining Coalition and Amtrak Shopcraft Coalition Issue Joint
Statement on the Recommendations from the Presidential Emergency Board

WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a joint
statement on behalf of the Passenger Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition from its
Chairman, W. Dan Pickett, President of the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen,
and on behalf of the Amtrak Shopcraft Coalition from its spokesperson, Joel M.
Parker, International Vice President of the Transportation Communications
International Union:

On January 3, 2007, the White House released the report and recommendations of
Presidential Emergency Board 242 for settlement of a long-standing labor
dispute between Amtrak, the nation's rail passenger carrier, and nine
organizations representing the railroad's non-operating employees. The
Emergency Board, created by Executive Order 13452 on December 1, 2007,
conducted a three-day hearing in early December.

With only minor variation, the Board recommended adoption by the parties of
the wage and health care package agreed to in April 2007 by the organizations
and the nation's rail freight industry. It noted that "the Freight Agreements
have served over the years as the historical pattern referenced for
establishment of wages, benefits and working conditions at Amtrak," and
criticized the carrier's "proposed 'cherry picking' of the Freight package to
take the parts that benefit it while rejecting the rest..." As applied to
Amtrak, the recommended wage settlement amounted to increases of 35.2% over
the period January 1, 2000 through December 31, 2009.

Of particular importance was the Board's recommendation that employees receive
back pay, in the form of retroactive wage payments, to compensate for the
eight years they had been without a wage increase other than minimal COLA
increases. The net amount of retroactive pay each employee receives will
depend upon the pay rate applicable to his or her classification and the
number of hours worked during the back pay period. The evidence relied on by
the Board indicated that payments could vary per employee from a low of $5,139
to a high of $34,433. The Board said, "nothing short of full retroactivity is
fair and equitable and appropriate to begin to restore to employees the lost
wages that resulted from their inability to obtain a successor agreement..."
To lessen the back wage burden on the carrier, the Board suggested that
retroactive wages be paid out in two installments of 40% and 60% each, one
year apart.

Finally, the Board recommended against adoption of Amtrak's proposed changes
in work rules, noting that no other rail agreements contain language of the
sort sought by Amtrak; that the proposed changes were not the subjects of
intensive bargaining by the parties; that Amtrak had not shown a compelling
operational need for any of the changes it sought; and that adoption of
Amtrak's proposals likely would foreclose voluntary agreement and cause
"significant instability" within the workforce.

W. Dan Pickett, President of the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen and
Chairman of the PRLBC, said: "It took an enormous effort by the members of
this Emergency Board to investigate the parties' contract dispute, and create
a report that reflects such a thorough understanding of the issues. The
Board's recommendations should form the basis for settlement of this dispute."

The spokesperson for the Shopcraft Coalition, Joel M. Parker, International
Vice President of the Transportation Communications International Union,
stated: "The members of the Emergency Board clearly understood the issues
involved in this matter and developed pragmatic recommendations to aid the
parties in resolving their dispute. The Board's reliance on traditional
pattern bargaining principles is especially heartening."

The Amtrak Shopcraft Coalition consists of the International Association of
Machinists, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Transportation
Communications International Union and the Transport Workers Union, while the
Passenger Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition is comprised of the American Train
Dispatchers Association, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes
(Teamsters Union), Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen and National Conference
of Firemen & Oilers (SEIU). Both Coalitions will soon notify Amtrak's
management of their desire to resume negotiations upon the basis of the
Emergency Board's report.

If no agreement is reached by 12:01 a.m. on January 30, 2008, Amtrak workers
who have not received a wage increase in more than eight years will finally be
able to strike. However, the possibility still exists that Congress may
intervene in the dispute and impose an agreement. The Coalition organizations
are preparing for all three scenarios: a negotiated settlement, Congressional
intervention or a strike.

SOURCE  Teamsters Rail Conference

David White of the Teamsters Rail Conference, +1-202-439 1904,

Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

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