- From the National Division at bmwe.org-
The BMWED/SMART-MD Coalition received bargaining position presentations via web conference from the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC) on September 30, 2020; the Coalition also provided a general reaction to the NCCC proposals and repeated the Coalition positions on pay, benefits and work rules.
The rail carriers’ spokesman lauded BMWED and SMART-MD Members for all their hard-work and dedication while working through the Covid-19 Pandemic these last seven (7) months, noting that rail workers have been critical to the success of the railroads and in ensuring that the general public receive their necessary goods. But the rail carriers’ presentations described these same railroad workers are overpaid, healthcare abusers that take advantage of the railroads through supposedly outdated work rules and who supposedly refuse to embrace technological changes that would assist in the performance of their work.
The BMWED/SMART-MD Coalition rejects the railroads’ position and contentions. Our Members are diligent, hard-working, skilled craftspeople, with unique competencies performing work that is essential to the American economy and its citizens. They are - by the nature of their work - exposed to various heightened health risks, every day that they lace up their work boots. And Maintenance of Way and SMART-MD workers are not “luddites”; they are more advanced than they have ever been and are capable of (and do in fact) operating complex and specialized machinery and equipment and they will continue to adapt in their high-skills development as technology develops . BMWED and SMART-MD are prepared to grow with new technology, but will resist all carrier efforts to use technology as a means to replace the workforce and transfer our craft work to managers and outside contractors.
President Simpson expressed,“Railroad workers have good reason to share more in the profits reaped by the railroads, given the profitability of the railroads over the last two decades and our contributions that result in those substantial, record-breaking profits. Our work rules are not outdated, burdensome or unreasonable, and our Members stand ready to learn new and improved methods for performing Maintenance of Way work and they can do it better than any contractor. Maintenance of Way Employees deserve to be compensated well and have health and welfare benefits as well as work rules that reflect their contributions to the success of the railroads and the American economy. It is time the railroads stop doing publicity stunts in talking about how great their employees are while denigrating them at the bargaining table, and start treating them respectfully through good wage increases, good health insurance benefits, and sufficient paid time off. And the carriers need to stop this garbage of not providing paid sick days to its employees and slashing health and welfare benefits, especially during a global pandemic.”
The NCCC has advised that it will provide an additional presentation on its bargaining position later during the month of October. Information regarding National Bargaining will be provided as it develops.