An alliance of seven national railroad unions reached tentative agreement February 28 with the US’s freight railroads on a new collective bargaining pact-the first successful coalition bargaining with the carriers in three decades.

Details of the agreement were withheld pending ratification by members of the unions in the Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition (RLBC) - which together

represent more than 85,000 rail employees including those working for the freight railroads.

‘This agreement proves the old adage that in unity there is strength,” said RLBC Chair George J. Francisco, Jr. “Coalition bargaining led to a better contract and we were able to work with rail unions outside of the RLBC as well.”

The seven RLBC unions-who reached agreement with the carriers after round-the- clock bargaining-include: the American Train Dispatchers Association; the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen/IBT; the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees/IBT; the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen; the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Buildings, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers; the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers/SEIU and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association.

The pace of bargaining in this extended dispute increased early this year, due to the parties’ heightened desire to reach a voluntary settlement instead of proceeding to a Emergency Board appointed by President Bush.

Bargaining was facilitated by Larry Gibbons and Terri Brown of the National Mediation Board.