As reported in a prior installment, the MRL’s lease with BNSF is being terminated this year. In conjunction with the desires of the affected MRL members, an Implementing Agreement was finalized between BRS and the BNSF that preserves, and even improves upon, the existing framework. Based on the terms of the new Agreement, all MRL members will remain covered by the CBA that has been molded to fit their needs over the past several decades. Among those needs tailored to MRL members is their healthcare plan. Under the Implementing Agreement reached, our MRL members will retain coverage under their existing health and welfare plans, to include retiree healthcare coverage between the ages of 60-65. They will also continue to benefit from a restructured profit-sharing plan. The new profit-sharing plan provides the peace of mind of consistent annual returns; returns that cannot go down based on future performance and can only increase along with member salaries.
Other significant areas of improvement in the Implementing Agreement include a no-furlough provision and a significantly improved scope rule. One that requires ALL future scope work to be performed by BRS represented employees, with one limited and temporary exception. The prior Scope rule was weak and allowed for contracting under many conditions. Due to this Scope rule change, we expect increased work opportunities in the near future for Signalmen on the MRL.
While members on the BNSF were not directly affected by this Agreement, it is this Scope rule enhancement that will likely lead to what some on BNSF have expressed as desirable. While we do not know the exact date the Carrier will obtain final authorization to complete the transaction from the Surface Transportation Board (STB) all necessary Agreements are in place at this time.