2008 Back Pay Funding Issues at Amtrak

TCU’s IVP Parker Takes Case for Amtrak Back Pay Funding to Congress

April 3, 2008—IVP Joel Parker testifed this morning before the Senate Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies, stressing how important it is for Congress to fund the second retroactive pay installment for Amtrak workers.  More »

Budget Resolution from Both House & Senate Calls for Amtrak Funding at Level to Cover Amount Needed for 2009 Back Pay  More »

March 28, 2008—One of the thorniest issues in the recently-concluded negotiations at Amtrak for TCU carmen and maintenance of way and maintenance of equipment supervisors, among many other union members, was that of back pay for those who had retired, who had died or who had been promoted to management from union positions during the eight long years it took to reach agreement.

Presidential Emergency Board 242 recommended that retroactive pay “be limited to those individuals who were on the payroll as of December 1, 2007” in order to “reduce somewhat the cost of the retroactive pay.”  This recommendation effectively excluded retroactive pay for anyone who retired or died before that date.

In negotiations with Amtrak following the release of the PEB report, all of the involved unions proposed to Amtrak that this recommendation be ignored and that retirees, the estates of deceased employees, and employees who were promoted to management receive the appropriate retroactive pay for the contract periods that they had worked union-covered positions. 

Amtrak refused on all three counts.  As far as retirees and deceased members were concerned, Amtrak would only look at incurring additional retroactive costs if the unions agreed to take lower wages for active employees or reopen work rule discussions.  All the unions rejected that approach, and were unwilling to risk losing the positive aspects of the PEB recommendations by declaring impasse over these issues.  All of the unions involved signed contracts based on the PEB recommendations, including exclusion of retirees and deceased members from retroactive pay.  The contracts were overwhelmingly ratified by each union’s membership.

The issue of retroactive pay for promoted employees was in a somewhat different status.  Labor’s position was that these individuals were “on the payroll” as of December 1, 2007, though not in a union-covered craft.  Amtrak said their Board of Directors was reviewing that situation but they would not contractually stipulate these employees’ entitlement.

In the latter half of March 2008, the Amtrak Board elected to apply the retroactive terms of the contracts to these promoted employees for only those periods they worked union-covered positions during the retroactive period.  “As all the unions had proposed that these employees be treated that way, TCU is not objecting to this action,” says International President Bob Scardelletti.  “However, we do believe that Amtrak should reconsider its position vis-à-vis retirees and the estates of deceased employees.”

Click here to read the text of the letter signed by top leaders of all of the involved unions to Amtrak’s President/CEO Alexander Kummant asking Amtrak to extend the same treatment to these groups as it is now extending to those promoted individuals as a “basic question of fairness.”

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