Dear Sirs and Brothers:
Enclosed for review and determination is a proposal, establishing a system agreement between the Carrier and this General Committee of Adjustment to govern involvement in BNSF safety programs as well as an alternative method of handling for discipline cases. As background, this agreement is the product of several months of meetings with the Carrier resultant from requests by the International Presidents of BLE and UTU that the Carrier meet with the Organizations to establish meaningful safety initiatives. The parties worked for several months attempting to come to consensus on issues that we could jointly address and this agreement is the first product to come from this process. We are currently continuing to meet in this forum and are attempting to address fatigue and attendance related issues in agreement form as well. There are two components of the proposed agreement and this is to provide a brief overview of both.
Part 1 of the Agreement addresses a method for alternative handling of discipline cases. This part of the agreement does not make alternative handling mandatory on the employee, but as qualified in the agreement, does make access to this handling mandatory on the Carrier. As most of you know, the successes of the existing STAY program depended largely on the willingness of Local Carrier Officers to utilize the process. The process in the proposed agreement no longer depends on local willingness, and, instead, makes access to alternative handling, as defined in the agreement, a contractual right of the employee. If the agreement is ratified and implemented by this General Committee of Adjustment, access to this alternative handling will be available to alt employees working under the jurisdiction of this General Committee of Adjustment. Employees working in other crafts or under the jurisdiction of other BLE General Committees of Adjustment will be governed by the decision made by the involved GCofA as to whether or not the agreement is implemented.
Part 2 of the proposed Agreement deals with involvement of our membership in BNSF safety programs. This involvement is divided into two parts, one to be placed under the jurisdiction of the involved GCofA, and the other placed under the jurisdiction of each involved BLE Division. If the agreement is ratified and implemented, it will be up to the participating GCofA’s to provide full time BLE Safety Coordinators for each of the respective BNSF Divisions, a possible total of 13. These Coordinators will be selected and/or replaced by the GCofA, but in any event, will be provided regardless of the decision on additional participation made by BLE Divisions. The remainder of the participation falls to the jurisdiction of the BLE Division. If the BLE Division agrees, Safety Committees may be established with the involved BLE Divisions retaining the right to select and/or replace all participants on the local level. The agreement further contemplates that if the BLE Division agrees, safety observers will be used as part of the “Risk Identification Process”. Although these two Sections of the proposed agreement are part of the overall attempt to change the safety process, neither of them are mandatory, but will be left entirely to the discretion of each BLE Division. However, the full time Safety Coordinator and access to the Alternative Handling options are mandatory and will be put into place if the agreement is accepted.
In closing, the proposed agreement would be the first of its kind on our property in that it establishes by contractual agreement how participants in the Safety Process will be selected as well as how they will be compensated and thus makes this service covered under our Collective Bargaining Agreement. The proposed agreement goes even further in making access to alternative handling for discipline cases a contractual right, with no obligation unless the involved employee so desires. It should also be noted that the Carrier agreed to accept the terms of the proposed agreement for a minimum of 2 years, while the Organization can opt out of the agreement at the end of 1 year if our concerns are not being addressed.
Therefore, in accordance with Section 43(b) — STANDING RULES OF THE CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS of the INTERNATIONAL DIVISION, it is requested that the enclosed be discussed and acted on at the next regular (or special) meeting of your Division. Please indicate on the enclosed ballot if you are “FOR” or “AGAINST” the proposal. If you have any questions concerning the proposed agreement, please contact the Office. Return of your ballot as soon as possible would be appreciated, but it must be returned to this Office on or before April 12, 2002.
cc: J.H. Nelson, Sec./Treasurer
|ALL LOCAL CHAIRMAN
File: Proposed Agreement
Safety Involvement/Alternative Handling Discipline
Dear Sirs and Brothers:
This is to advise that the proposed Agreement concerning Safety Involvement and Alternative Handling for Discipline has been approved by this General Committee of Adjustment. Pursuant to Article 7, Section N of the Committee Bylaws, I have enclosed a tally sheet depicting the results of each Division’s vote. The Agreement was ratified by the Committee, 30 votes for, 2 votes against and 10 abstentions. Enclosed you will also find a fully executed copy of the Agreement as well as a side letter clarifying the application of the make whole language for part time safety involvement found in the Agreement.
As part of the implementation process the participating General Committees must select full time Safety Coordinators, pursuant to Part II, Section I of the Agreement. As this Committee has sole jurisdiction on the Northwest, Montana, Twin Cities and Nebraska Divisions, we will be selecting the Coordinators. On the Northern California, Powder River, Kansas and Chicago Divisions we share jurisdiction with the other BLE General Committees. The four BLE General Committees have discussed various methods to assign these Coordinators and have agreed to the following. On those BNSF Divisions where there is joint jurisdiction between the General Committees, we will be selecting the Coordinators on an equity based method with the General Committee holding the preponderance of BLE Divisions on any given BNSF Division initially selecting. All BLE Divisions having members working on any of the various BNSF Divisions were included respectively in determining each Committee’s equity. The parties have also agreed that the General Committees having a smaller percentage of Divisions would be allowed to exercise their equity on a back to back basis combining their equity for each year of the two year pilot period. This methodology is contingent on all four Committees ratifying the Agreement.
In order to make the above described selections, we are soliciting each of our involved Local Chairmen and asking that you provide the name of a candidate for the full time Safety Coordinator position for your BNSF Division. If your Division has employees working on more than one BNSF Division, please provide the name of a candidate for each. We will make the initial selection on the Northwest, Montana, Twin Cities, Nebraska, Powder River and Chicago Divisions and need to make the appointments as soon as possible. We are meeting with the Carrier this week to discuss the duties and responsibilities of the Safety Coordinator and we will be providing more information via email following those meetings. When you have selected your Division’s candidate for the position, please provide the name, address and phone number of the candidate along with a brief bio describing the reasons that you feel make the involved member suitable for the position. As we would like to have the appointments made by May 1, 2002, please provide the information by fax or email at your soonest convenience. We will be contacting those selected by the Local Chairman and discussing the positions prior to making our determination.
In closing, please recognize that the intent of the new agreement was to change the way that BNSF’s employees, both management and scheduled, view the safety process. It will take a concerted efforts by all to see that the agreement truly benefits all involved as it is natural in this industry for all employees to resist change such as this. Those that are selected as Coordinators must be willing to put aside any territorial bias tat they may have and work to resolve the concerns of all engineers on the various BNSF Divisions. We know that many of you have expressed concern in that regard. but you may rest assured that in the event that those selected show any signs of favoritism, they will be replaced. At the same time, local Carrier Officers must be willing to address the concerns brought to them by the Coordinators and develop meaningful solutions. In the event that does not happen we need to be advised and the matter will be addressed with the Carrier here. Please contact the Office if you have any questions, and, I remain,
MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT
THE BURLINGTON NORTHERN AND SANTA FE RAILWAY
THE BROTHERHOOD OF LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS
This Agreement is presented in two parts. Part I introduces an alternative approach to discipline that stresses training and counseling instead of punitive discipline. Part II introduces a new safety culture that focuses on the active participation of employees, managers and the union leadership as we partner to create a safer workplace through recognition that we must all focus as a team on safety.
Part I - Alternative Handling
I. Definition of Alternative Handling
Alternative handling is a non-punitive response to rule violations that includes training and other non-disciplinary measures. An alternative handling event will be recorded on the employee’s operational testing record rather than the employee’s personal record. It will not be considered discipline and may only be used to determine eligibility for future alternative handling in the event of a subsequent violation and to document non-punitive counseling given to the employee. Where possible, notices of investigation will contain alternative handling options.
Except as modified in this Agreement, existing schedule agreements remain in effect. Nothing in this Agreement infringes on the right of an employee to formal investigation under the existing collective bargaining agreement. However, once the employee agrees to alternative handling, he/she waives all rights to formal investigation and appeal and agrees to abide by the terms specified by this Agreement, except as contained in Part I, Section VII of this Agreement.
Alternative handling, if requested, will be made available for all types of rule violations formerly subject to company discipline except for the following:
Rule violations to which alternative handling is applicable are referred to as “covered” rule violations.
Each employee subject to this Agreement is eligible for alternative handling provided he/she accepts responsibility for the violation and does not exceed the time period limitations described in Part I, Section VI (B) of this Agreement.
Exceptions to Part I, Sections III & IV may be granted as part of the dispute resolution process outlined in Part II, Section VII of this Agreement. If an exception is not granted, the employee retains full contractual rights established under the applicable schedule agreement, consistent with Part I, Section VII of this Agreement.
When the company is in possession of information that causes it to believe that an employee has violated a rule, the employee will be so notified and may request alternative handling. If the employee is eligible and the rule violation is covered, training and corrective action will be based on the “class” of the offense and the employee’s work history.
VII. Time Limits
The time limits listed in the applicable schedule agreement apply with the following exceptions: In any case where an employee requests alternative handling, the time limit will stop upon receipt of the request by a company officer. If, as a result of action taken by the company, the employee is denied his/her request for alternative handling, the employee shall be given notice of the decision, which shall start the remaining time limit running to completion. The notice of denial by the company must be received by the employee not later than ten days from submission of request for alternative handling. It by action or inaction of the employee, the alternative handling plan is stopped, aborted or otherwise not completed by the employee, the time limits for investigation and all subsequent time limits for appeal will start anew in their entirety at the date the company issues notice of failure to meet the requirements of the alternative handling plan. This notice of failure to meet the requirements of the alternative handling plan must be received not later than ten days from the scheduled completion date of the alternate handling plan for that employee.
The employee will be compensated during any training or other corrective action stemming from alternative handling. An employee who participates in alternative handling that lasts four hours or less, will be compensated at a minimum of one half of a basic day at the straight time rate of the last service performed. Alternative handling that lasts more than four hours, will be paid at a minimum of a basic day at the straight time rate of the last service performed. When an employee is required to miss time from his/her assignment, he/she will be compensated for actual lost earnings. Employees withheld from service pending formal investigation under the terms of existing labor agreements will be compensated for all time withheld from service if admitted into the alternative handling process, except that no compensation shall be paid for time withheld as required by 49 CFR Part 240, except for alternative handling training as provided for in this Agreement. Extra board employee’s guarantee will be offset by compensation under this Section; however, participation in an alternative handling plan will not count as a layoff for purposes of determining guarantee.
Part II - Safety Participation
The rail transportation workplace is a complex environment involving employees who are mostly self-supervised. In light of the complexity of this environment and our desire to create a safer workplace, we have agreed that our safety culture must be focused on safe production. One of the hallmarks of our safety culture should be active participation by our employees, our managers, and the union leadership. Through this Agreement and our commitment to partnership in promoting safety, our mutual objective is to identify and eliminate risks (physical plant risks, behavioral risks, and attitudinal risks) and create a safer workplace through a process of continuous improvement. To that end, we agree to the following:
I. Safety Coordinators Positions(s)
On each operating division where the BLE is a party to this Agreement, that division will have at least one full-time safety coordinator. Additional full-time or part-time safety coordinators may be added at the discretion of management. The appropriate BLE General Committee(s) shall select and/or replace the Safety Coordinator(s).
II. Duties and Responsibilities of a Safety Coordinator
111. Establishment of Safety Committees
At any location, the division management and BLE may agree to establish a local safety committee which will meet on a regular basis, but not less than quarterly. The number of BLE participants will be determined by management, with the safety committee members selected by any involved BLE division. Each BLE division retains the option of replacing its safety committee members with thirty days’ written notice to the appropriate company officer. All decisions and recommendations of the local safety committee will be by consensus. Where issues cannot be resolved by the local safety committee, the issue in question will be progressed to the Division General Manager and Safety Coordinator.
IV. Duties and Responsibilities of Safety Committees
The duties and responsibilities of each local safety committee will be to identify safety concerns and make recommendations for resolution of identified issues.
V. Risk Identification Process
At locations where local union representatives and local management agree, a formal risk identification process may be included as one tool in our effort to build a safer workplace. Where the parties agree to this process, the safety coordinator will work with the designated company officers to develop a program for training safety observers and coordinating the information received from them.
VII. Dispute Resolution
Disputes may arise between the parties regarding issues such as whether a particular employee is eligible for alternative handling, appropriateness of a specific alternative handling plan, safety coordinator duties or safety committee handling. In the event such disputes cannot be resolved locally, the following process will be followed:
VIII - General Provisions
I. Cancellation Clause
This Agreement will remain in effect for a minimum of one year, after which it may be cancelled, in its entirety, by the General Chairman serving sixty days’ written notice to the Vice President, Labor Relations BNSF. Otherwise, this Agreement will remain in effect for a minimum of two years, after which it may be cancelled, in its entirety, by the Vice President, Labor Relations BNSF serving sixty days’ written notice on the General Chairman. In the event this Agreement is cancelled, the parties shall fully retain the same rights and prerogatives which they held prior to this Agreement, as if the Agreement had never been made.
II: Savings Clause
This Agreement is made without prejudice to either party’s right to exercise any other rights or prerogatives that it may possess. Except in connection with efforts to enforce any aspect of this Agreement, the existence of this Agreement shall not constitute evidence of a course of dealing or past practice, and shall not be cited or referred to in any other case or controversy to support any argument that either party has a duty to bargain over any particular subject matter.
Signed this______________ day of _____________________________, 2002.
Effective on_________________________________________________, 2002.
|John J. Fleps
Vice President-Labor Relations
P. 0. Box 961030
Fort Worth, TX 76161-0030
File: Safety Summit Proposal
Dear Mr. Fleps:
This is in reference to the proposal currently being considered for ratification by BLE, resultant from our ongoing joint discussions referred to as the Safety Summit. During our last meeting prior to finalizing the current proposal, the Carrier agreed to identify the pay codes that would be excluded from the “actual lost earnings” make whole language found in Part II, Section VI, Subpart B for part time involvement in the Safety program. This is to confirm our understanding that the attached document, receive by fax from Assistant Vice President Siegele, is the agreed to list of pay codes that will not be included in calculating lost earnings for employees participating in part time safety related programs and that all other involved pay codes will be included in this calculation.