Minutes from the meeting at LaGrange, Ga. – March. 21, 2015 President Karle called the meeting to order at 9:20 am.
Brother Karle appointed Brother Jason Skidmore to be Chaplain and Brother Robert Mayfield to be Sergeant-at-Arms for our union meeting.
There were 12 Local members, 4 members of the General Committee and 4 Local officers present for this meeting. We were honored to have our retired member, Brother Mickey Snow. Brother Snow has been retired for 10 years now. We also welcomed Mr. Bill Tucker; one of our BRS designated counsel and his investigator, Mr. Steve Martin. Brother Karle expressed appreciation for their attendance and support on behalf of Local 16.
Brother Karle gave Mr. Tucker the floor. Mr. Tucker began by explaining the impact of the Whistleblower Law. This law penalizes Carriers for retaliation, if proven, on an employee for reporting unsafe conditions or injuries, i.e. “protected activity”. The easiest example of an application of this law would be discipline following an incident involving injury or accident. The Railroad can be severely penalized for the action of harassment or retaliation, which can be in the form of discipline or worse. An employee, or representative of an employee, who believes that he or she has been retaliated against in violation of this statute may file a complaint with OSHA. It is important to note that the Federal Railroad Safety Act prohibits complainants from filing multiple discrimination complaints under other laws for the same allegedly unlawful act of the employer. Complaints must be filed within 180 days of the alleged unfavorable employer’s action occurs (that is, when the complainant becomes aware, or should have become aware, of the retaliatory action). For additional information go to the website;
Brother Karle gave Ms. Toni Jones from the Railroad Retirement Board the floor to cover some of our basic retirement, sickness, and unemployment benefits. Ms. Jones fielded several questions ranging from income post retirement to spousal benefits and how to qualify for RRB benefits. We thank Ms. Jones for taking the time to provide this presentation for our meeting.
Brother Karle introduced Mr. Charlie Flemming from the Georgia Chapter of the AFL-CIO. Mr. Fleming gave us some background on his craft and his responsibilities with the AFL-CIO. Mr. Flemming explained how we could benefit from affiliation with the Georgia AFL-CIO. The Georgia AFL-CIO has a convention every two years and represents 210,000 workers within the state of Georgia. Like many southern states, Right to Work legislation presents challenges; however, despite this negative law the union has grown its membership by 38,000 members in the last three years. The movie production and entertainment business has exploded in Atlanta in recent years along with restaurants and concessions. Organized construction trades comprise 60 percent of the workers building the new Falcons stadium. Along with service and construction, the port industry is growing and expecting further expansion, making the Savannah port the third busiest port in the country. The Georgia AFL-CIO has 223 affiliates.
President Karle called for a motion to accept the minutes as written from the January 2015, Rocky Mount business meeting. Motion was made by Brother Darrell Allen to accept the minutes as recorded, seconded by Brother Brian Jahay and unanimously approved.
President Karle gave the floor to Brother Wiley Yates for a financial report. Our treasury is great shape standing at about 25k. Brother Yates mentioned that he is still attending and conducting the new hire sessions. The dues for Local 16 members are 108.50. In closing, Brother Yates reported that he would be stepping down as Local 16 Financial Secretary effective April 1, 2015.
Brother Yates was appointed to this position in 1994. His faithful and dedicated service to this position secured our treasury for the past 20 years. Brother Yates will now be able to focus more on his duties as Vice-General Chairman.
President Karle gave the Obligation to Brother Tony Pellerin, Brother Joshua Hicks, and Brother Austin Pierce. We took five minutes to welcome these young signalmen to our organization.
Brother Karle asked for a report from the General Committee members present at this meeting:
Brother Darrell Allen from North Carolina reported that switch heater claims were recently settled. He credited Brother Ken Barber with identifying the issue and protecting the Scope Rule.
Brother Skidmore from north Georgia has one outstanding vacation claim that has not been settled.
Brother Yates from north Florida has one unsettled claim on an ESS tied to moving expenses. Brother Yates also remarked that the ESS have instructions from the Chief Engineer that all trouble tickets must include gate fall times on gate incidents and lamp voltages on dark signals.
Brother Ken Lamb from the Savannah Signal Shop had nothing new to report, however keep sending repair & returns, and switch carcasses to the Shop; business is getting better at the Shop. Brother Lamb remarked that he has a good working relationship with Mr. TJ Pittman and they are getting problems solved. The Shop will be setting up test chassis to test modules sent in for repair. This extra step will try to identify modules sent in for repair that indicate no problem.
Brother Karle asked General Chairman Gus Demott for a report from General Committee.
Brother Demott began his report with National Negotiations. The BRS will be negotiating a new compensation package for its members nationwide and these negotiations will be conducted in Washington, DC. The National Carrier’s Conference Committee (NCCC) will be bargaining on behalf of the Class I railroads. On labor’s side of the table, the BRS has joined with other rail unions, including the BLE and the UTU, to form a wide coalition that will represent most rail union members. President Pickett is pleased with this coalition and is familiar with the current leadership of our coalition partners. Brother Demott indicated that he would attempt to attend all bargaining sessions. As reported in previous meetings, our responsibility study will be presented to the NCCC and it will be settled in this round. We want to keep healthcare contributions at current levels. Our healthcare insurance has held steady over the past 4 years. National agreement negotiations can be a slow process, but we are confident that we have positioned ourselves well moving forward.
Next, Brother Demott discussed the Agreement Merger talks that have continued into 2015. Two years ago, CSX Labor Relations (CSX LR) presented the CSX General Chairmen with a notice to combine the various signal agreements across the system. We have been reporting on the progress of these discussions every union meeting. These merger meetings have been productive on the BRS’s part; however, CSX LR has stalled the process. This has occurred for many reasons. It is to be noted that our BRS negotiating committee has presented many rule changes to CSX LR. A mountain of effort has been spent meeting and writing new agreement language, but CSX LR still has not signed off on a majority of the common rules. It keeps dragging on and in a surprising move late last year; CSX invoked the assistance of the National Mediation Board. This has further complicated and stalled the process. Brother Demott described that we will reach some kind of agreement on common rules or the process will just end. Our plan was to combine the Clinchfield Agreement with ours and join our two General Committees together; however, negotiations are now within the direction of the NMB. At this point, we do not know where CSX is on this merger. It is puzzling to know what they want to achieve. Merging agreements is one thing, but continued attempts to change work rules through this process has complicated every meeting. Early meetings indicated that CSX LR keeps pushing signal teams assigned to a roadway System Production Gangs. This is simply a bad idea for signalmen and the railroad, but they keep coming back to this proposal.
Another item with important consequences is the negotiations for an agreement for the SunRail Signalmen. The SunRail Signalmen organized in 2014 and joined the BRS for their representation. Brother Demott is in the process of negotiating these new members an agreement. There has been good progress, but future meetings will involve discussions about wages and benefits.
Finally, Brother Demott discussed the impending transfer of signal maintenance on TriRail. TriRail was formed some 20 years ago and CSX has maintained the engineering (signals and track) since its creation. In early 2014, CSX decided to cease the maintenance on this line and now Veolia (or Transdev as it is now known) a global commuter engineering contractor has been chosen by FDOT to take over the signal and track work on TriRail. At this meeting, Brother Demott reported that negotiations are complete with Transdev. The agreement for the signalmen in south Florida has been signed. Transdev wanted to retain the experienced signalmen for their operation. Approximately 10 signalmen will remain with Transdev. Nonetheless, the signalmen on TriRail have a good agreement that includes the former SCL agreement with some additional benefits and modifications. Brother Demott expressed his appreciation for the cooperation of the Transdev officials.
Last, Brother Demott reported that Brother Joe Brunson was chosen to be the Contract Trainer in the South, replacing former trainer Richard Hickox.
New Business President Karle announced that Brother Roy Lankford and Brother Nathan Griffin will be appointed to District 5 Grievance Committee (South Georgia) and Brother Steve Gilbert will be appointed to District 9. (Construction South)
Upon Brother Yates announcement of stepping down from the Local 16 Financial Secretary position, President Karle appointed Brother Brian Jahay to this position effective April 1, 2015.
A motion from the floor was made by Brother Jason Skidmore that Local 16 affiliate with the Georgia AFL-CIO, seconded by Brother Wiley Yates. The topic came under some discussion and was unanimously approved by the members present.
Members reported off due to illness: Brother Shawn Manners
The members, Officers of Local 16 and General Committee members would like to express our condolences to Brother Wayne Lee for the tragic loss of his wife just prior to our business meeting.
In addition, Brother Richard Hickox, our former Contract Trainer, now at the REDI Center, tragically lost his daughter in an accident on Valentine’s Day. We extend our condolences to the Hickox family.
The next regular meeting of Local 16 will be in Rockingham, N.C. on Saturday, May 16, 2015. The meeting will be held at the Holiday Inn Express. The address is 800 East Highway 74 Business. The phone number 910-817-7288.The meeting will begin at 9 AM.