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Amtrak-UTU accord.

By a narrow margin, members of the United Transportation Union voted recently to accept a tentative agreement with Amtrak, the rederally operated passenger rail cartier. The settlement included an economic package smaller than those negotiated recently by other unions at Amtrak, but similar to the wage and benefit settlements at the major freight camers involved in the April 1, 1991, national rail strike (Monthly Labor Review, January 1992, pp. 22-23). The Amtrak agreement covered about 2, 150 conductors and train operators nationwide.

The contract provides wage increases of 3 percent retroactive to July 1, 1991, 3 percent on July 1, 1993, and 4 percent on July 1, 1994; lump-sum payments totaling $6,747 to be distributed in five installments: $2,000 immediately, $1,287 on July 1, 1992, $1,273 on July 1, 1993, $1,297 on January 1, 1994, and $890 on January 1, 1995; and a cost-of-living adjustment clause effective on January 1, 1995, when the contract expires, with semiannual payments of 1 cent an hour for each 0.3-point increase between 1.5 percent and2.5 percent in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. Conductors earn about $41,500 annually, according to Amtrak.

In exchange for the smaller economic package, the company agreed to defer formal bargaining on the size of crews. Amtrak now has two-member crews on trains with more than one car and threemember crews on trains with six cars or more. Terms of the settlement call on the parties to talk informally on the issue, with the assistance of a jointly selected mediator. If an agreement is not reached by July 1, 1993, either party may reopen the agreement for formal negotiations on the issue.

Other terms include contract language diverting up to 50 percent of employees' lump-sum payments to offset the first 25-percent increase in annual medical insurance costs, effective in 1992; an option for Amtrak to terminate its participation in the industrywide health care plan and seek alternative health care arrangements; and an agreement to foster joint efforts with local unions to improve company operations and enhance customer satisfaction.
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Title Annotation:United Transportation Union
Author:Cimini, Michael H.; Behrmann, Susan L.
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:May 1, 1992
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