District Lodge 19

where it all begin

P/DGC John Lacey

The Corner Office

  • President John Lacey

Sisters and Brothers:


National Freight Agreement update, April 19, 2018, plus more:  On  Monday April 16, 2018 District 19 met with the National Carrier’s Conference Committee in Mediation at the National Mediation Board in Washington DC.

This was our first meeting since the Tentative Agreement was rejected by the membership. NCCC Chairman, Kenneth Gradia told us there was no flexibility in the Agreement. In other words, they were not going to negotiate any changes from the previous Tentative Agreement. They claim that all the other Crafts have a “Me Too” clause in their agreement which means that if any Organization negotiates anything better then they get it also; which the Carriers are not willing to pay any more.

The NCCC stated that history shows that “Pattern Bargaining” is the norm for the Freight Railroad Industry negotiations. They claimed that with seventy percent (70%) of the employees now working under the Agreement the pattern has been set for this round of negotiations. They further went on to say that the Brotherhood of Maintenance Way Employees (BMWE) and Sheet Metal Air Rail Transport (SMART) have accepted the wages but will be presenting the Health and Welfare portion of the Agreement to arbitration for adjudication. The questions that are being arbitrated are:

                                    1. Which plan should be used, the BMWE and SMART 357 Plan or the Carrier’s H&W proposed
                                        design changes?
                                    2. Should there be a Health and Welfare financial “True up”?
                                    3. Should there be a penalty, and if so, how much should that penalty be?

This arbitration is scheduled for May 8, 2018 and we are not sure when the award will come out. Both sides believe they have prepared the winning case. We don’t know how this arbitration will turn out but prevailing in arbitration cases is 50-50 at best; you can never tell how an Arbitrator will rule.

The NCCC also informed us that the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) has put the same Agreement out for another vote. If the IBEW members accept the Agreement, then the IBEW and Carriers will be arbitrating only the H&W True up and penalty payment. The NCCC also told us that the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB) accepted the Tentative Agreement. Their Agreement included a side letter for H&W true up and penalty payment of $105.00 per employee to be deducted from their back pay (retro pay).

The NCCC let us know that if the IBEW ratifies the Agreement and the Carriers prevail in the Arbitration cases, then 95% of employees will be working under this Agreement and we will be the only Organization without an Agreement. If this happens the Carriers believe they will have a very strong bargaining pattern set and they believe this will work against us. 

Our response to the Carrier and the National Mediation Board was; we don’t care what the other organizations have done; we represent the Machinist and it is our contract with the Carriers and that is all we are concerned with. We don’t and have never believed in nor recognized “pattern bargaining”. The Agreement we are negotiating is only between the Carriers and the IAM, no other Organization is partied to our negotiations. We also let them know that we may only be 5% of the work force, however if our 5% strikes the other 95% will not cross our picket lines and we are willingly and ready to do what it takes to get a fair and equable agreement.

At the end of the negotiations session the Carriers stated they are done negotiating and stated they are agreeable to the below listed options:

                           1. Take the Agreement
                           2. Arbitrate the Agreement
                           3. Present our case before a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) 

The Carrier further told us that any further delay will be costly to our membership. They claim that the delay in reaching an agreement cost the Carrier $73 and change per employee, per month in Health & Welfare. They also claim they intend to “true up” (recoup their cost) from the Health & Welfare plus a ten Percent (10%)  penalty, all taken, from our back-pay.  We made our position very clear to the NMB that we are not done negotiating, and with continued negotiations, we can reach a fair and equable agreement.  We informed the NMB that we want another meeting.  We will advise when that meeting has been scheduled.

Brothers and Sisters, we are in a very tough battle. To obtain a fair and equable agreement it is going to take all of us speaking with one voice to the Carriers that their last offer is unacceptable and was proven so by an overwhelming vote rejecting their offer.  We will be continuing to consult with the Transportation Department General Vice President's Office and the General Counsel's Office. We appreciate your support and patience that you have given thus far. Our dispute over the Carrier’s last offer is going to take time to resolve. We are working very hard, and as quickly as we can, to bring to you a fair and equable Agreement that is acceptable to you. Once again, we must ask for your continued support and patience during the very tough negotiations.

In Solidarity and Fraternally yours,


John Lacey
President Directing General Chairman