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Amtrak, Conrail pacts.

Negotiators for the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees and two rail carriers, Amtrak and Conrail, reached agreement on 42-month collective bargaining contracts that deviated from the recommendations of presidential emergency boards President Bush appointed earlier this year to resolve the 4-year-old disputes.

The agreements were the results of adhoc legislation that ended a 2-day work stoppage in June involving the Nation's major rail freight carriers and the International Association of Machinists. Under terms of the legislation, railroad workers were ordered back to work; the dispute, and others at Conrail and Amtrak, became subject to mediation-arbitration procedures, including the use of the "last, best offer procedure."

Terms of the negotiated agreements were better than the recommendations of the emergency boards established to hear the disputes and better than could be obtained through arbitration, according to officials of the Maintenance of Way Employees union. Yet union officials believed that the settlements were not "good" agreements because they provided for work rule concessions and did not maintain the level of real wages.

Among the wage and benefit terms of the Amtrak agreement were:

* Wage increases of 3 percent retroactive to July 1, 1991, 2 percent retroactive to October 1, 1991, 4 percent on October 1, 1992, 2 percent on January 1, 1993, 3 percent on October 1, 1993, 4 percent on October 1, 1994, and 2 percent on July 1, 1995, and additional wage adjustments, ranging from between 50 cents and $13.66 an hour, for foremen, building and bridge inspectors, and certain other selected job classifications.

The board had recommended the same general wage increases, except for the two 1991 raises. Instead, the board recommended a 5-percent increase effective upon signing that would not be retroactive. The board also recommended against additional wage adjustments for any job classifications.

* Health care cost-sharing measures, as recommended by the board.

* A $2,000 signing bonus, as recommended by the board.

* Cost-of-living adjustment allowances with semiannual payments, each capped at 3 percent, as recommended by the board.

* A $21 per diem allowance, advancing to $24.50 in December 1994, and lodging (use of company-supplied camp cars or motels). The board had recommended a cartier option to substitute a $35 per diem for operation of camp cars (cartier-provided meals and lodging).

* A 2-year rate progression for new employees beginning at 90 percent, advancing to 95 percent after the first year and 100 percent after the second year. The board had recommended the progression, but recommended excluding from the rules foremen, mechanics, and production gang members operating heavy, self-propelled equipment. The settlement was silent on the issue of exclusion.

* An increase in the travel allowance to $10 per trip. The board had recommended against the increase.

Work rules changes in the agreement included:

* Merging seniority lists on a 10-mile stretch of track. The board had recommended merging all seniority districts into one district.

* Allowing use of regional and systemwide traveling gangs of track maintenance workers in the Northeast Corridor. The board had recommended using regional and systemwide traveling gangs working on highly technical equipment in the Northeast.

* Providing 15 minutes unpaid travel time to and from work sites for certain classifications of employees. The board had recommended applying the rule to all employees.

* Simplifying work classification by the restricted use of a technician position. The board had recommended merging vacant classifications with active ones and establishing a building and bridge/mechanic position and a technician classification in the track department.

* Using 4-day, 10-hour work weeks, with Saturday or Sunday off, with an additional $1 an hour for all hours worked by maintenance gangs when Saturday or Sunday is part of their regular work week. The board had recommended use of the work schedule but not the additional pay.

* Maintaining the current three-shift operations with an incentive of 55 cents an hour, advancing to 60 cents in January 1993 and 65 cents in January 1994, for starting times between 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. and between 7:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. The board had recommended giving the cartier discretion to set starting times, providing it pays an incentive of 55 cents an hour worked for employecs who have to work at starting times other than existing ones.

* Paying an employee's normal rate when performing incidental work in another craft, as recommended by the board.

* Giving employees the right to move to lateral and lower rated positions, although how often they may move is not mentioned. The board had recommended allowing one lateral and one downward move each year.

* Requiring that employees being trained for a position fill the job for 6 months. The board had recommended that, in the absence of an acceptable bidder to a position that required training, Aretrak be allowed to select one of the three most junior employees who have completed training for the vacant position to fill the post for up to 1 year.

Wage and benefit terms of the Conrail agreement included:

* Wage increases of 3 percent on July 1, 1991, and 1993, and 4 percent on July 1, 1994, as recommended by the board.

* Cost-of-living adjustment allowances with semiannual payments, each capped at 3 percent, as recommended by the board.

* Health care cost-sharing measures, as recommended by the board.

* A $4,000 signing bonus. The board had recommended a $2,000 signing bonus.

* Lump-sum payments equal to 3 percent of an employee's annual earnings effective July 1, 1992, and January 1, 1993, and 1994, and a similar 2-percent payment effective January 1, 1995, as recommended by the board.

* Elimination of the entry rate progression for current employees on the progression and a 75-percent, 5-year entry rate progression for future new hires. The board had recommended a 2-year entry rate progression for employees in lower paying positions.

* An increase in the hourly wage rate for maintenance of way repairmen to $13.63. The board had recommended against the increase.

Work rules changes in the agreement included:

* Creating six seniority distincts for track production and heavy bridge repair gangs and two districts for rail gangs. The board had recommended the use of work gangs on highly technical and expensive equipment on a regional and systemwide basis.

* Providing meals and lodging for traveling zone gangs, and weekly increases of between $24 and $28 in travel allowances. The board had recommended a daily allowance of $35 in lieu of meals and lodging.

* Obtaining the union's approval for changes in seniority districts. The board recommended arbitration of bargaining disputes over proposals to merge or align seniority districts.

* Allowing starting times between 4:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. for all production gangs and support gangs, with arbitration of starting time disputes for all other workers, as recommended by the board. The board also had recommended that the union pay for arbitration, but the settlement did not provide for such payment.

* Providing for no weekend work for production or support gangs. The board had recommended that the work schedules include Saturday or Sunday.

* Providing 30 minutes unpaid travel time to and from the work site for production gangs and support gangs, except for senior foremen and drivers. The board had recommended 15 minutes unpaid travel time each way for all production and support gang members.

The Amtrak and Conrail disputes began during the 1988-91 round of national rail negotiations. Most of the Nation's major railroad freight carriers and railroad unions participated in the coordinated national bargaining, which was concluded only after the appointment of a presidential emergency board (No. 219) and ad-hoc legislation that ended a 1-day work stoppage in April 1991. The legislation imposed the recommendations of the emergency board on the 10 major rail unions involved in bargaining.

Amtrak was not a party to the negotiations, and Conrail participated, but not for all crafts or classes. The International Association of Machinists also did not participate in the national negotiations.

Three additional presidential railroad emergency boards were created eventually to make recommendations concerning these disputes. The three emergency boards' reports tracked the wage, health care, and work rules terms imposed legislatively last year on the 10 unions involved in national bargaining.

The unions involved in the three new disputes rejected the boards' recommendations. The unions' rejections triggered a 25-day "cooling-off" period that ended on June 24, 1992. The Machinists then struck csx, one of the major rail carriers involved in the national contract talks. Although the strike initially involved only csx, it resulted in the shutdown of the entire national rail system when the 39 other carriers involved in the dispute locked out their employees. The President signed ad-hoc legislation ending the stoppage. The legislation also blocked potential work stoppages at Conrail and Amtrak and, in the absence of these collective bargaining agreements, would have imposed binding arbitration on the carriers and the Maintenance of Way Employees.

Nurses settle at Kaiser-Permanente

Kaiser-Permanente and the United Nurses' Association of California signed a 3-year collective bargaining agreement, providing wage increases to approximately 5,500 registered nurses and physicians' assistants at nine hospitals and two outpatient clinics in southern California.

Members of the Nurses Association, which is an affiliate of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers, received wage increases of 4 percent for registered nurses and 4.5 percent for registered nurse practitioners and physicians' assistants retroactive to April 1, 1992. In the second and third years, union members will receive 2 percent or whatever adjustment is needed to remain at least 4 percent above the rates paid by 25 other hospitals in southern California. The first pay raise will bring starting hourly wages to $19.50 for staff nurses and $22 for nurse practitioners and physicians' assistants.

Other terms include establishment of an award program to recognize nurses for excellent service, with Kaiser providing funding of $300,000 in the second and third years of the contract; continuation of Kaiser-paid health insurance benefits for workers and their dependents; a $75,000 increase over the term of the contract in Kaiser's contribution to the joint education fund; increases in monthly pension benefits, providing an additional $50 for employees who retired before 1982 and $28 for those who retired between 1982 and 1988; and establishment of a joint labor-management committee to review staffing and scheduling issues.

Pact ends 6-year hotel dispute

Negotiators for hotel workers and the employer's council representing 10 hotels in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills ended 3 months of intermittent bargaining with agreement on a 6-year labor contract that covers approximately 5,000 workers. The two parties expected the settlement to help the hotels recover from a local economy hard hit by the economic downturn, the riots in April, and earthquakes in June.

The major issue in negotiations centered on preservation of health care benefits.

Local 11 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees attributed the settlement to its strategy of conducting demonstrations and protests at member hotels, and distributing to various convention bureaus and tourism officials a video depicting the seamier side of life in Los Angeles.

The pact provides a 2-year wage freeze for all employees, followed by hourly wage increases for nontipped workers of 20 cents in April 1994 and every 6 months through April 1996, 25 cents in October 1996, and 30 cents in April and October of 1997. The contract provides hourly wage increases for tipped workers of 10 cents in April 1994, 5 cents in April and October of 1995 and April 1996, and 10 cents in October 1996 and April and October of 1997; in the second year, tipped workers will receive lump-sum bonuses of $100, and nontipped workers will receive $200.

Other terms include an increase over the term of the agreement in employers' contributions to health coverage, from $1.53 an hour worked to $3.08 an hour; a guarantee that member hotels closing for renovation or other reasons will rehire laid-off workers with full seniority and other accrued rights when the hotels reopen; and, in the last year of the contract, an increase in employers' contributions to the pension fund from 18 cents an hour worked to 28 cents an hour.

40-hour week backed in grocery pact

Members of Local 1 of the United Food and Commercial Workers overwhelmingly ratified a 4-year collective bargaining agreement with P&C Foods, Inc., covering about 4,800 workers at 68 stores in upstate New York.

P&C Foods is a division of the Penn Traffic Co. of Johnstown, PA.

The agreement provides full-time workers with wage increases of 25 cents an hour retroactive to May 31, 1992, and 30 cents an hour on May 31, 1993, 1994, and 1995. Part-time workers will receive annual wage increases of 15 cents an hour each May 31. At the expiration of the previous agreement, the top rate was $11.44 an hour for cashiers and $13.09 for journey level meatcutters.

Other terms include a guaranteed 40hour work week for full-time workers; fully-paid health insurance, with company contributions increasing over the term of the contract from $259 per month to $421 for each full-time employee and from $203 per month to $329 for each part-time worker; an agreement to establish a joint health and safety committee; establishment of an educational, safety, and cultural fund, with company contributions set at 10 cents an hour worked for full-time workers and 5 cents an hour worked for part-time workers; an agreement to bargain whenever the company moves into a new marketing area; and time and one-half for hours worked in excess of 35 per week for part-time workers who are originally scheduled for 30 or fewer hours.

Settlement at Michigan utility

Negotiators for the Consumers Power Co. in Michigan's lower peninsula and the Utility Workers Union reached agreement on a 3-year collective bargaining contract that included two major union objectives, establishing a tax-deferred savings plan and changing the health care plan.

The agreement, which covers approximately 4,000 operations, maintenance, and construction workers, called for annual wage increases of between 22 and 44 cents per hour; a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) clause providing 1 cent an hour for each 0.135-point change in the Consumer Price Index for Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, with an annual guarantee of 33 cents per hour; and the roll-in to base wage rates of $2.34 an hour in previously earned COLA payments. At the expiration of the previous contract, the top rate for gas lineworkers was $15.60 an hour.

Under the tax-deferred 401(k) savings plan, employees can invest up to 6 percent of their salaries and the utility will contribute 50 percent of employee contributions.

The parties made several changes in the health care plan, including replacing a cafeteria-style plan with a single level plan. The settlement calls for the utility to pay the full costs of health insurance premiums, but employees would be required to pay 20 percent of the cost of medical services, with annual maximum "out-of-pocket" expenses of $1,750. Other changes include a decrease from $250 to $200 in the annual deductibles for single coverage and from $500 to $400 for family coverage; an increase in the lifetime limit on home health care visits from 120 to 150 and orthodontic coverage from $1,200 to $1,500; and an increase in the annual limit on dental benefits from $1,000 to $1,200 and inpatient hospice care from 30 days to 45 days.

Fiber plants reach 3-year contract

Negotiators for the Fiber and Film Division of the Hoechst Celanese Corp. and the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union reached agreement on a 3-year contract, covering about 3,050 workers at the company's plants in Rock Hill and Narrows, VA.

Workers at the Celriver plant in Rock Hill manufacture cellulose acetate fibers for home furnishings, apparel, and industrial materials. Workers at the Celco plant in Narrows manufacture tow for cigarette filters.

The pact calls for wage increases of 4.5 percent in the first year and 3.5 percent in the second and third years, and a 6-cent hourly increase in the differentials for working the second and third shifts. At the expiration of the previous contract, the average hourly rate was $11.

Other terms include employee payment of between 0.5 percent and 0.75 percent of wages on a pretax basis to defray the costs of health insurance; a 25-percent increase in pension benefits; liberalization in the eligibility requirements for early retirement, under which employees aged 55 or older can retire with full benefits if their age and years of service equal at least 85; an increase in weekly accident and sickness benefits from $180 to $200; and an agreement to cooperate on health and safety issues.
COPYRIGHT 1992 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Title Annotation:labor contracts
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Oct 1, 1992
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