The Committee is also of the view that these issues should be negotiated by the parties. And that is the case here. The parties have worked hard and successfully. They made a deal. They had the courage to achieve leadership. They quickly reached an agreement, about three months after the current leaders of the UTU took office. And they had the determination to reach an agreement without state intervention. They are entitled to their success. This is not to say that if workers` wages are repressed for a period of time, in part because of poor financial performance, a union cannot argue for higher wages when financial health returns. But there is no such argument for the rail industry.
The facts are on the contrary. Railway employees have a significant advantage over employees in other sectors. This conclusion lies in the analysis of wage trends, wage levels or overall compensation, comparisons with competitors such as heavy goods vehicles, other modes of transport or industry in general. The numbers are in the recording, and they are unassailable. For the staff represented by the UTU, the conclusions are generally identical to those of the railway workers. The only difference is that the differences are greater. Fact: The nation is facing the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Legislators at all levels of government write wage concessions and benefits to non-union and non-union workers and pass laws that remove the rights of collective agreements. The situation in this round of negotiations is almost identical to that of 1996, when Arbitration Commission 559 billed the UTU`s national agreement. This court of arbitration decided that the entire economic picture was controlled, not just the current economic situation of the railways at the time. (This decision is fully reproduced below.) The sessions began last week and continued until early August, before the voting packages were sent to some 38,000 voting members. The provisional agreement, which amends the existing national agreement, must be ratified by all relevant UTU trades, in accordance with the provisions of the UTU Constitution.
The existing national agreement remains in force in accordance with the provisions of the Railway Works Act. In addition, the preliminary agreement provides that local agreements can be negotiated – not subject to binding arbitration if the parties fail to agree – for alternative allowances, compensatory leave, an increase in compensation and electronic services. In addition, the Teamsters agreed in 2008 to a five-year contract with heavy goods vehicles for an average annual increase of less than 2%; BLET calculated with BNSF, CSX and Norfolk Southern at only 2.2% per annum over a five-year period; And President Obama imposed a two-year pay freeze on federal employees. The organization may be right about what its members want. Whether it is fair to give them that is another question. We believe that it is not enough to ask for “more” and be rewarded with more. Good faith negotiations are compromised by rewarding workers with greater benefits for simply saying “no.” The automatic rejection of agreements by seasoned and elected representatives is a destructive practice that cannot be tolerated. In these circumstances, we cannot agree with the airlines` appeal, but we agree with the airlines that rejecting an agreement without a convincing explanation is unacceptable. This agreement exceeds the level of price inflation more than all previous national rail agreements in the 41-year history of the UTU. Although the surplus of the wage agreement on price inflation in the 1970-73 agreement may seem more significant (as graphically illustrated in a slide), this agreement did not take into account the cost-of-living adjustment; and there were backs, including changes in the interdivision service, the delimitation of road yards and the passage.