Dear Brothers and Sisters,
BMWED representatives met with BNSF Labor Relations today, and to our surprise, for the first time, Mr. John Cech attended the meeting. We view this as a very positive addition.
It is always useful to speak face to face with the person that actually issued the Safety Agreement cancellation Notice and has the power to make decisions about it.
The meeting was generally cordial and both sides agree the Company’s cancellation of the employee’s Safety Program is driven by three (3) factors.
1. The number of Safety Positions
2. “Joint Selection” of Safety Position candidates
3. The employee’s voice and “seat at the table,” ---- the Safety Advisory Committee (SAC).
Centralized New Hire training was also discussed. Although it remains a separate issue, after our discussions we believe agreement on this issue may be possible, the devil is in the details.
A substantial amount of time was spent discussing the so called “Joint Selection” of Safety candidates. Despite our cautious reservations and desire to keep our Safety Program “employee based,” we believe it is possible a compromise, that largely preserves the Union’s role in Safety candidate selection, can be reached.
BMWED is working hard to convince Mr. Cech that the SAC is the heart of our Safety Agreement. It is the part of the Agreement that gives the employees a voice and a seat at the Safety Table and this cannot be compromised. We are still working on this important issue.
The issue we remain far apart on is the number of Safety Positions. Mr. Cech remains stuck on his #19 even though he was unable to explain how all of the services provided by today’s 43 BMWED Safety Assistants/Bridge Facilitators could possibly be done by 19.
We suggested that a joint “analytical study” be conducted of the present service provided by our Safety Assistants, miles covered, Employees served etc. to determine if all of the Positions are indeed required. Our suggestion was rejected!
We did offer a smaller number of Safety Positions (much more than 19 but less than 43) that reflects the number of Safety Positions that existed when the Agreement started after the Bridge positions were added. This was also rejected!
We remained firm that the amount of Safety and qualification work that today’s Safety Positions perform will still need to be done and it will either be done by us, or, exempt officers.
We suggested that the Parties mutually agree to a 60 day extension of time to the Company’s cancellation Notice to allow each side to document its description of the required Safety work now and how each would propose this Safety work be accomplished today and into the future. The Company did not agree.
Despite our unresolved differences, enough constructive conversation did occur to allow us to reach agreement to meet again, which we will do on July 2nd.
We remain hopeful but not particularly optimistic that a right balance can be found to preserve the employee’s workplace safety program. Notwithstanding, we are working hard toward that goal.
Thank you for your support. It has been overwhelming and very helpful.
We will keep everyone up to date on this very important situation!