Amtrak Clerical Unit Articles

Agreement Reached with Amtrak to Prevent Outsourcing Reservation Sales Office Work

December 21, 2006—TCU has reached an agreement with Amtrak that puts a stop to Amtrak’s previously announced plans to hire an outside contractor to perform reservation sales office work.

The agreement establishes a longer rate progression, with lower starting rates applying to reservation sales agents hired after the date of the agreement. After eight years, the new employees will achieve the 100 percent rate – there is no permanent second tier of rates.

Current reservations sales workers are unaffected, except that current part-timers will not be forced to go full-time or lose their jobs, as would have been required if Amtrak proceeded to contract out the work. The new rates will be subject to all future wage increases. No other rules affecting reservation sales workers will be affected.

The new rates for new hires are still considerably higher than rates at U.S. call centers, both union and non-union.

The ban on outsourcing reservations work will last for five years. Amtrak can then give six months notice to cancel, but if it cancels, the new rate progression would also be cancelled and employees subject to it would immediately snap up to what their rates would have been had they been hired under the current rate progression. If cancelled, Amtrak would also lose their contractual authority to have part-time reservation workers.

The dispute over reservation sales outsourcing began earlier this year when the Amtrak Board of Directors decided to solicit bids from outside call centers to perform reservation sales work. Congress threatened to pass a law that would prohibit Amtrak from contracting out the work to foreign call centers but would have permitted domestic outsourcing.

Amtrak received several bids from U.S. call centers that paid their reservation workers $9 an hour starting, maxing out at around $12 an hour, well below TCU-negotiated reservation rates. Amtrak proceeded to give its required six months notice to cancel an existing agreement that allowed Amtrak to have a percentage of part-time workers as long as reservations work was not contracted out. The cancellation of that agreement would have forced current part time workers to go full time or quit. Going forward, the contractor would have handled an ever-growing percentage of calls, as the current workforce attrited. There would have been no overtime opportunities for current workers as well.