Sisters and Brothers,
It has been nearly a year since I assumed the duties of General Chairman, and I can tell you that not in my wildest dreams did I imagine my first year in office would have played out as it did. I want to thank you all for your support as we make our way through these difficult times and work for better days in the future.
At the height of the furloughs there were approximately 5000 employees without work. With the downturn in business and the outlook for recovery bleak, our General Committee received 21 Article IX notices. It has been an extremely busy and frustrating time trying to keep up with these notices. For 2017, BNSF has indicated that they plan on implementing as many multidirectional pools as they can to gain better utilization of manpower. I suspect these new Article IX notices will capitalize much of our time in 2017, just as they did over this past year.
SMART Transportation Division President, John Previsich, has notified our committee that the National Contract Negotiations have broken down. After this year's election results in November, the Class 1 Carriers feel they will have a better negotiating position with a more business-friendly administration, and therefore, talks have stalled. In response, the Rail Labor's Coordinated Bargaining Group has requested help from the National Mediation Board. This development sends a troubling signal that we may be in for a long wait before the next contract.
Although we have faced significant challenges this year, it has not all been bad news. This year was filled with numerous meetings related to the Safety Summit Agreement and attempting to put many of the disputes we have encountered behind us. Although I am not prepared to say we have those disputes solved, I do believe we are making progress, and I hope to have some additional information to share soon.
Our General Committee was successful in negotiating a pilot program on a common furlough and recall agreement currently in operation. Before this pilot, each former road territory operated slightly different when it came to furlough and recall. Now, no matter where someone is on the BNSF, they are handled the same way. This success has led to discussions about additional common agreements to be had, and in the next year I will continue to push for more negotiations on this matter.
Although the successes were minor in comparison to the challenges we faced, it has been an honor and a privilege to serve as your General Chairman. As we assess the past and look forward to the challenges of the future, it's important to remain hopeful for the new opportunities and successes that this new year will bring. It is the spirit of hope that is a hallmark of this holiday season, and it is a warm tiding I wish for you and your family. From myself and all of us at SMART Transportation Division General Committee 001, I would like to wish you Happy Holidays and a prosperous New Year.
SMART Transportation Division
General Committee 001
Sisters and Brothers,