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Amtrak negotiations 2015-2016-2017-2018

BMWED-Amtrak Negotiations for the round beginning January 1, 2015

Passenger Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition (PRLBC)


On April 6, 2018, the American Arbitration Association began mailing ballots to our membership for deciding acceptance or rejection of our tentative agreement with Amtrak. Ballots will be counted on April 24, 2018 in the offices of American Arbitration Association and the certified results will be published shortly thereafter.


March 16, 2018 - PRLBC Tentative Agreement. The tentative BMWED-Amtrak agreement.  It is our intention to work with the American Arbitration Association to have this agreement in the mail to the membership for their approval or rejection by March 27, 2018. The votes will be counted by the American Arbitration Association twenty five (25) days later. This schedule could change by a day or two depending on the logistics of the process. View Tentative Agreement here.

February 26, 2018 - PRLBC letter to Amtrak - The Passenger Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition (PRLBC) has determined that the agreement that Amtrak has negotiated with the unions that represent Amtrak ' s Shopcraft employees would constitute an acceptable basis for resolution the Section 6 notices and related proposals served by the PRLBC and Amtrak, when modified to account for differences between the health and welfare plan applicable to Maintenance of Way Employes and Signalmen and the plan applicable to Shopcraft workers. The PRLBC also believes that an agreement based on the terms Amtrak negotiated with the Shopcrafts agreement, with appropriate modifications for the differences in the health and welfare plans, is likely to be ratified by members of the PRLBC unions. View letter here.


June 9, 2017 - PRLBC lead council writes NMB mediator Eva Durham about Amtrak's Bad Faith. The PRLBC brought its full team, including Mr. Roth and Ms. Mallett, to the June 7 session. When we arrived at the Chapel room, the Amtrak team was not present. {Durham} then advised us that there would be small group meetings. I confirmed that PRLBC objected to negotiating that way and was prepared to proceed with its full team. We then held a side-bar discussion in which I explained the basis for the PRLBC’s objection, which were as follows: 


June 7, 2017 - Today in Philadelphia the Passenger Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition (PRLBC) met National Mediation Board (NMB) mediator Eva Durham and representatives of Amtrak, only Amtrak never entered the room. 

The PRLBC was represented by 16 people, made up of BMWED and BRS union officers, our legal council, economists and advisors.

Mediator Durham entered the room and immediately expressed her disappointment that there were so many of us. She requested that our sessions be limited to small groups, hinting that most of us should leave and only the principal officers remain, generally implying that Amtrak wants to bargain quietly and away from the prying eyes and ears of those who will work under any agreement reached.

Our legal council quickly pointed out that the federal mediator can request small group meetings but she cannot compel small group meetings. We have the right to bring anybody to a bargaining session that we see fit. Our council continued by sternly advising the mediator that Amtrak’s insistence on discussing work rules in the absence of a wage proposal that is communicable or comprehensible is in violation of the Railway Labor Act. The mediator left the room to confer with Amtrak and upon her return announced that this scheduled bargaining session was over.

Our bargaining coalition came to Philadelphia prepared to bargain. From Virginia and the District of Columbia, from New York and beyond we traveled many collective miles only to be denied any meaningful discussion. Amtrak wasted all our time. Amtrak wasted all the workers' time.

Once again…


February 16, 2017Another mediated session with Eva Durham of the National Mediation Board. We're prepared to talk, Amtrak is prepared to balk. Another unproductive meeting where we again ask Amtrak to produce the information we requested from them concerning healthcare, and we reiterate our wage proposal. Amtrak forgets what they originally proposed, then decides they want to discuss comparables. Just as is real estate, Amtrak wants to compare the wages of PRLBC workers against other railroad worker’s earnings to “see where we are valued in comparison to the rest of the market”. Our coalition’s economist Thomas Roth provides Amtrak with a fresh look given Amtrak’s recent published financials, in hopes of lifting the Amtrak negotiators into the real world.

  • 42% of Amtrak employees are assigned on the Northeast Corridor.
  • 96% of PRLBC members are assigned on the Northeast Corridor, and those workers earn 17% less than our commuter rail counterparts that service through the NEC stations.
  • Amtrak’s market share of the Washington to New York route is greater than all the airlines combined.
  • Amtrak’ NEC is a profitable railroad with a 122% recovery rate. 

Why should PRLBC members subsidize Amtrak’s non-profitable lines?

View - Corridor recovery rate, operating statement and commuter based wage comparables.

View - Amtrak's Proposal - Financial Impact

December 12, 2016 - PRLBC letter to Amtrak's newest president Charles "Wick" Moorman regarding the rampant incompetency and the lies told by Amtrak at the bargaining table.

April 6-7, 2016 - PRLBC Mediation session with Eva Durham of the National Mediation Board.

February 16, 2016 - PRLBC's letter to National Mediation Board regarding Amtrak's Bad Faith.

December 14, 2015 - Amtrak’s application for mediation.

December 14, 2015 - Amtrak announces its’ intent to seek mediation services.

December 14, 2015 - Passenger Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition letter to Charlie Woodcock wherein the PRLBC terminates, with good reason, further conferences over the parties’ Section 6 notices.

December 9, 2015 - Amtrak's Total Rewards manager responds to the Passenger Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition's letter by saying nothing and doing nothing.

December 3, 2015 - PRLBC/Amtrak negotiations in Philadelphia regarding work rules. A failed attempt.

November 30, 2015PRLBC’s 2nd letter to Board Chairman Coscia, given he didn’t respond to our 1st letter. The PRLBC urges Coscia to get directly involved and stop the lawlessness, bad faith and obstructionism that has characterized Amtrak’s negotiations. As the director of the corporation Coscia is responsible for violating the Railway Labor Act. View letter here...

November 25, 2015 - This is the 3rd time the Passenger Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition (PRLBC) has written to Amtrak regarding the railroads refusal to provide our Healthcare Consultant (Cheiron) with information necessary to conduct an actuarial analysis of Amtrak’s benefit proposal. Amtrak expects the BMWED (and other agreement covered employees) to blindly accept the railroads proposal and for us to agree to significant increases in cost-sharing and decreases in plan designs. The PRLBC signed a non-disclosure agreement promising to safeguard confidentiality and security in connection with HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

The proponent of dramatic health care concessions by its employees, Amtrak is obliged to show that its proposals are based on a valid analysis and justified. To comply with its duty to bargain in good faith under the Railway Labor Act (RLA), Amtrak can either provide the information the PRLBC and its consultants at Cheiron need to evaluate Amtrak's proposal, or Amtrak can withdraw its proposal. But, by continuing to advance its proposals for major changes in health benefits while withholding the information necessary, Amtrak is not complying with its duties under the RLA, Section 2, First. Read letter here…

November 9, 2015 - PRLBC letter to Amtrak's Board Chairman re: Amtrak's unlawful acts and bad faith at the bargaining table. Read Here...

November 6, 2015 - PRLBC letter to Amtrak's lawyers wherein Amtrak can either produce information relevant to their healthcare proposal or withdraw their proposal and move on. Read Here...

October 27, 2015 - Bargaining Session in Philadelphia in connection with Work Rules.

October 23, 2015The PRLBC has written Amtrak’s Board Chairman Coscia regarding the proposed drastic and unprecedented changes in benefits plans that would dramatically increase costs for members of BMWED and BRS.

Amtrak has refused to provide our healthcare consultants with the information needed to analyze Amtrak's proposals, even though Amtrak initially promised to be very forthcoming with information regarding its proposal. Instead, we have received heavily redacted data that is effectively useless.

If Amtrak maintains it’s current position then they will be in violation of the Railway Labor Act, Section 2, First. We should not be expected to negotiate while wearing a blindfold. The parties are bound by the Railway Labor Act to exert every reasonable effort to make and maintain agreements and settle all disputes. Amtrak’s obstructionism not only violates law but disrespects the workers and the workers’ families.

Read letter from the PRLBC to Amtrak Board Chairman Coscia here.

October 14, 2015 - Bargaining Session in Philadelphia in connection with Healthcare.

June 26, 2015 - PRLBC letter to Amtrak's head of Human Capital Barry Melnkovic wherein Amtrak's assertions regarding their purported "competitive disadvantage" is challenged. Mr. Melnkovic had stated that the States are upset about Amtrak's "cost structure". However, it does not appear to us that Amtrak has lost work or is in danger of losing work because of the rates of pay and benefits of its maintenance of way and signal employees. It seems that Amtrak's idea of being more "competitive" just involves reducing pay and benefits for its employees.

The loss of commuter contracts in Boston, on the VRE in DC and Virginia, and in the San Francisco Bay Area had nothing to do with the pay and benefits of signalmen and maintenance of way employees; and their pay and benefits are irrelevant to Amtrak's retention of work on state supported routes. Amtrak no longer performs that work in those locations because it either chose not to submit a bid, or ineptly or incompetently sought to extend its franchises, not because of the pay and benefits of its signalmen and maintenance of way employees. True to form Amtrak fails to acknowledge its own contributions to it loss of work and on June 5th Melnkovic attempted to blame the workers. Called you on your bullshit Mr. Melnkovic. View letter here.

June 5, 2015 - Bargaining meeting between the PRLBC and Amtrak where Amtrak’s senior administrators provide what they describe as a "comprehensive proposal" for its agreement covered employees. Amtrak's bargaining presentation includes segments on the challenges they believe the railroad faces and the proposals they believe will best address these challenges, and prompted literally dozens and dozens of questions from our PRLBC legal counsel Rich Edelman and our consulting healthcare actuary Michele Domash. Amtrak has agreed to provide the PRLBC with the figures and formulas Amtrak used to calculate what appears to us as speculative projections.

March 17, 2015 - "Appeal to Reason" - Amtrak management has declared war on Its employees. Our senior managers have little or no experience In operating or building a railroad. They have not been hired for their railroad expertise. They have been hired to extract more from the workforce and attack our rights and compensation. Over 50% of our current membership has been hired in the last five years, and this management is betting that their anti-employee, union busting tactics will not be hindered by a workforce that is new to union membership. The Union is the primary obstacle to their attacks and our first line of defense is an informed and active membership. The purpose of this letter is to educate you about the problem and begin the process of organizing our resistance to these attacks. Read More…

March 13, 2015 - After 3 months Amtrak finally provides their Section Six notice.

February 26, 2015 - The second bargaining session.

February 10, 2015 - The first bargaining session held in Philadelphia, PA, Chief Engineer’s Conference Room - 4th floor, 30th Street Station. Parties discuss rules for negotiations, Amtrak promises to meet with regularity and to move the negotiations along.

January 16, 2015 - PRLBC Section Six notice March 13, 2015 - Amtrak Section Six notice


Page Last Updated: Apr 19, 2018 (13:48:10)
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