TENTATIVE CONTRACT REACHED FOR CLERICAL MEMBERS AT AMTRAK
The contract provides for wage increases that are equivalent to those in the TCU National Freight settlement. But employee monthly health premium contributions are 25% less than those in the national freight contract. The contract also contains various work rule changes.
Economic details are as follows:
The toughest issue to resolve was Amtrak’s unflinching position that it did not have the money in its budget to pay retroactive wage increases, while TCU negotiators insisted that Amtrak workers receive wages equivalent to those in the national freight settlement. To resolve that impasse, both sides finally agreed on a package that will increase Amtrak wage rates by 9-1/2% over a fifteen month period beginning October 1, 2003, and that contains significantly lower health and welfare employee contributions than those contained in the national freight settlement.
On January 1, 2000, the average Amtrak clerical rate was $17.08. That rate will rise to $19.57 by October 1, 2004, a compounded raise of 14.58% over the life of the contract. Even though the timing of the increases is different, the TCU national freight settlement applied to the Amtrak average rate would produce an identical 14.58% increase. That’s on a gross wage basis. When the lower health and welfare employee contribution is factored in, the Amtrak contract produces a higher net wage going forward.
Besides the economic issues, the other major obstacle to an agreement was Amtrak’s insistence from day one that any contract must contain productivity savings through work rule changes. TCU negotiators were steadfast that our craft had been hit hard by job cuts, and that any changes had to take that into account. In the end, the negotiators agreed on several changes, including improvements, that on balance we believe will be acceptable to our members.
A complete description of the work rule changes will be included in the ratification packets that will be mailed to members in the near future. Membership meetings will also be held at major locations across the country.
“This contract represents the best possible settlement given Amtrak’s precarious situation,” says TCU International President Robert Scardelletti. “Going to an Emergency Board appointed by President Bush would be insane in light of his plan to dismantle Amtrak altogether. Further delay is also unacceptable. Amtrak members have waited long enough to get real wage increases, which this contract delivers.”
TCU’s negotiating committee was comprised of International Vice President Joel Parker, General Chairmen Dan Biggs and Anthony Santoro, Jr., and General Secretary-Treasurers Ron Kloos and Russell Oathout.