Amtrak Negotiations 2000-2008

From the beginning to the Bitter End. A history of the 2000-2008 BMWED/Amtrak negotiations (or lack thereof) beginning with Amtrak's stonewalling* the process and culminating with a Bush appointed Presidential Emergency Board and settlement. Following are articles, communications, reference materials and assorted items arranged in reverse cronologic order.

* the act of stalling, evading, or filibustering, esp. to avoid revealing politically embarrassing information

Chronologic Events

June 17, 2008 Report from the Office of Inspector General to Senator Patty Murry, Chairmman of the Chairman Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations, wherein Amtrak's ability to pay retroactive wages is discussed.

May 28, 2008 Pennsylvania Federation BMWED thanks Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) with the "Friend of Amtrak Worker" award.

May 5, 2008 Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Retroactive Adjustments

April 18, 2008 Amtrak President Kummant's response to Amtrak Union's March 26, 2008 letter regarding back pay to management employees. Kummant uses the PEB to insulate Amtrak from the icy defraudation* of the retirees, yet finds money in Amtrak's coffers to pay management.

*to deprive of a right, money, or property by fraud, deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage.

March 28, 2008 General Chairman Dodd's open letter to the members, along with the Amtrak Union's letter to Amtrak President Kummant addressing the retiree's back pay vs. management back pay, and finally a contract settlement update letter from our favorite Amtrak VP, Joe Bress. Also included is the opt-out of medical coverage form.

March 26, 2008 Amtrak Bress' settlement update

March 26, 2008 Amtrak Unions write to Kummant regarding management back pay and our retiree issues.


Following the release of PEB242, the PRLBC and the Shopcraft Coalitions immediately returned to the table with Amtrak to reach understanding around the framework of the PEB recommendations. Nine tenative Amtrak agreements are the result, followed by nine Organization's ratifications.

March 10, 2008 Cheverly, Maryland - BMWED ratification ballots counted and results posted including voting break down by Local Lodge

Material included in the Tenative Agreement Ratification package mailed to BMWED members

January 29, 2008 General Chairman Dodd writes the Amtrak Committees regarding Frequently Asked Questions About the Tentative Agreement, and attached healthcare comparisons, wage and retroactive spreedsheets.

January 23, 2008 Clairification letter from TCU Secretary Treasurer Dan Biggs to Joe Bress regarding Health and Welfare Cost Sharing, and Bress' response

January 22, 2008 General Chairman Dodd's letter to the Amtrak Committees explaining the tenative agreement, including spreadsheets illustrating average retroactive wages

January 22, 2008 Healthcare comparison affected by the tenative agreement.

January 18, 2008 Press release from Senator Ted Kennedy's office

January 18, 2008 TEAMSTER Press Release - Amtrak Tenative Agreement

January 18, 2008 BMWED Tenative Agreement

BMWED Signs Tentative Agreement

On January 18, 2008, a formal signing ceremony was held in the Amtrak Board of Directors conference room in Union Station Washington DC. In attendance, along with Amtrak President Kummant, his senior management, and representatives of the rail unions were; Senator Kennedy, Chairman of the Senate Labor Committee and Congressman Oberstar, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

These two men, together with Senator Tom Carper of Delaware, were instrumental in encouraging Amtrak management to make agreements with their Amtrak employees that reflect the same wages, benefits and working conditions as the nation's freight workers. As Chairman Oberstar eloquently stated to the assembled leadership of the nine unions and Amtrak management:

"We are glad the Presidential Emergency Board appointed by President Bush did the right thing, but if they did not - we in Congress were prepared to do it for them"

Congressman James Oberstar

January 11, 2008 PRLBC returns to the table with Amtrak

January 9, 2008 "Appeal to Reason", PEB242 and Right to Strike

January 8, 2008 Amtrak urged to pay "Back-Pay"

Presidential Emergency Board 242

December 30, 2007 PEB 242

PEB 242 - Report to the President
Summary of PEB 242

December 20, 2007 Post-Hearing Briefs


December 11 - 13, 2007 PEB Hearing

December 11, 2007 Hearing Transcript
December 12, 2007 Hearing Transcript
December 13, 2007 Hearing Transcript

Passenger Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition Pre-Hearing Brief

Shopcraft Coalition Pre-Hearing Submission

Labor Testimony before PEB 242

Dan Biggs, International Secretary-Treasurer, TCU
Joel Parker, International Vice President, TCU
Thomas Roth, Summary Statement Meal Case
Jed Dodd, General Chairman Pennsylvania Federation, BMWED-IBT
Pre-Hearing Submission - Summary Statement Wage Case
Gary Maslanka, International Vice President, TWU
Statement of Class Counsel - Thornton et al v. Amtrak

Amtrak Testimony before PEB 242

Thomas Rand, Consultant - Amtrak Health and Welfare Benefits
William Crosbie, Amtrak's Chief Operating Officer
Joe McHugh, Amtrak's VP Government Affairs and Communications
Joe Bress, Amtrak's Vice President Labor Relations
James Gillula, Consultant testimony on Wages and Benefits
William Campbell, Amtrak's Chief Financial Officer
Alex Kummant, Amtrak's President and CEO

December 6, 2007 The Transportation Trades Division of the AFL-CIO issues talking points

December 3, 2007 National Mediation Board letter discussing rules of the game

November 28, 2007 President Bush Orders Presidential Emergency Board

November 28, 2007 Amtrak Special Employee Advisory, another piece of rhetoric spit out by the Amtrak propaganda machine

November 23, 2007 An Appeal to Reason: Amtrak Released from Mediation, Emergency Board Next

November 19, 2007 Amtrak Complaint Against Unions

November 15, 2007 TWU Flyer - "Clock Ticking at Amtrak"

November 12, 2007 Committee Letter Updating Status of Contract Crisis

November 6, 2007 Amtrak's Offer to Settle Contract, which is not actually an offer but their attempt to write the BMWED's suicide note. Amtrak fully expects us to jump on the sword and is now offering to hold it for us.

November 5, 2007 BRS Newsletter

November 3, 2007 Labor Proposals to Settle Contract

November 2, 2007 Amtrak's Special Employee Advisory - What a piece of drivel, attempting to sway the workers. Too little, too late.

November 1, 2007 Appeal to Reason - President Bush Expected to Appoint
Emergency Board to Stop Strike

November 1, 2007 FAQ on the Amtrak Labor-Management Dispute

October 20, 2007 TWU Express Newsletter - "Opting Out"

September 27, 2007 Transport Workers Union Local 2015 Vice-President Bruce Carlton Replies to Amtrak Alex

September 18, 2007 UTU correspondence regarding contracting out in connection with the recent Amtrak/BLET Tentative Agreement which failed to ratify.

September 17, 2007 National Mediation Board (NMB) headquarters, Washington, DC. Passenger Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition (PRLBC) meets with mediators and Amtrak's negotiating team to discuss the PRLBC recent terms and letter.

September 14, 2007 Amtrak proposal to ARASA

September 12, 2007 Passenger Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition (PRLBC) Letter to Amtrak's Joe Bress announcing the formation of the PRLBC and listing the coalition's terms.

September 12, 2007 Four Unions Enter Amtrak Bargaining Coalition

August 1, 2007 The Crisis on Amtrak

July 20, 2007 2nd Meeting of the Passenger Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition (PRLBC) held at the AFL-CIO Headquarters in Washington, DC.

July 19, 2007 The BLET signs a tenative agreement with Amtrak, agreeing to modest wage increases, work rule and contracting out changes and no back pay, all for a $4,500 signing bonus. Other Amtrak Unions (except the FOP) are shocked considering our promise of solidarity.

July 4, 2007 "Amtrak Workers", an underground group composed of members of various labor organizations distribute flyers on the Amtrak property.

June 26, 2007 Kummant comments on Amtrak Police rejection of proposal

June 26, 2007 Congressional Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials hearing on benefits of Intercity Passenger Rail.

June 12, 2007 Congressman Oberstar comments on Amtrak Labor Dispute

May 17, 2007 All-Unions Rally - Washington, DC. Amtrak Rail Labor Unions demonstrate in front of Washington's Union Station.

May 13, 2007 Philadelphia Inquirer article on Amtrak Labor Dispute

May 5, 2007 Cinco de Mayo - The infamous Kummant House protest. Amtrak Workers protest in front of Amtrak President Kummant's house in Washington, DC. Leafleting his neighborhood raising awarness of our lack of Amtrak contracts and portraying Amtrak Alex as a Union Buster. Won't talk to us in negotiation meetings, don't worry, we'll come to your house. No Justice, No Peace. View "Kummant is a Union Buster" leaflet, then see pictures of Amtrak Workers canvassing Amtrak Alex's neighborhood in our Photo Gallery titled "Kummant's House Protest".

March 14, 2007 Amtrak Workers protest an Amtrak Board meeting in New York City. Railway Signalmen are threatened with discipline. Pictures are posted in our Photo Gallery, captioned as "Amtrak Workers meet the Amtrak Board".

February 9, 2007 Kummant responds to BMWED General Chairman Dodd's Dec. 8, 2006 letter

January 15, 2007 Amtrak Rail Unions United Letter of Solidarity

January 8, 2007 The 4th meeting of the Amtrak Rail Labor chiefs. Held at UTU headquarters in Washington, DC., and attended by representatives from the BMWED, BLET, UTU, IAM, SMWIA, IBEW, TWU, NCFO, and TCU

December 21, 2006 Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) and R. Hunter Biden meet with General Chairmen from IAM, IBEW, TWU, ARASA, SMWIA, Boilermakers, and the BMWED at Wilmington Shops in Wilmington, DE

December 12, 2006 BRS letter advising of an Amtrak Rail Labor Chief meeting

December 8, 2006 General Chairman Dodd replies to Amtrak CEO Kummant's letter of September 29, 2006

November 16, 2006 Amtrak's answers to negotiation questions

November 16, 2006 The 3rd meeting of Amtrak Rail Labor. Held in Washington, DC., and attended by representatives from the BMWED, BLET, UTU, IAM, SMWIA, TWU, NCFO, and TCU

November 3, 2006 Amtrak seeks Injunctive Relief and a Temporary Restraining Order against the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers to prevent further witholding of service on Amtrak

October 31, 2006 The famous "Halloween" BMWE/Amtrak negotiation meeting at Amtrak's 30th Street Station. Lasting about 10 minutes, just long enough for Amtrak's VP Joe Bress to chant "No Retro, No Retro, No Retro" and for the BMWE to insist that Amtrak explain and quantify their contract "demands".

October 25, 2006 Amtrak's Vice-President Joe Bress writes BMWED President Simpson regarding "stickers" that are showing up on Amtrak's property. Not us Joe, must be one of the other disgruntled unions.

October 9, 2006 The 2nd meeting of Amtrak Rail Labor. Held in Washington, DC., and attended by representatives from the BMWED, BLET, UTU, IAM, SMWIA, TWU, NCFO, and TCU

September 18, 2006 General Chairman Dodd's committee letter on the new Amtrak CEO Alexander Kummant, and the old David Hughes being too liberal for Amtrak's Board of Directors. Also attached is a piece written by Frank N. Wilner entitled "Kummant's Kampf - Questions Surrond New Amtrak CEO" as it appeared in the Journal of Transportation Law, Logistice & Policy

September 16, 2006 General Chairman Dodd Writes to Kummant to Settle Contract Dispute

September 7, 2006 The 1st meeting of Amtrak Rail Labor and the offical beginnings of Amtrak Labor Coalitions. Held in Washington, DC., and attended by representatives from the BMWED, BLET, UTU, IAM, SMWIA, TWU, and TCU

September 1, 2006 UTU article on Amtrak's new CEO Kummant

August 29, 2006 Special Employee Advisory announcing new CEO Alex Kummant

July 1, 2006 House T&I Committee report, including piece on Amtrak

June 20, 2006 Norman Mineta quits as U.S. Secretary of Transportation

June 8, 2006 R. Hunter Biden's Senate Confirmation Hearing for a member position on the Amtrak Board of Directors

June 1, 2006 The Penn Fed BMWED protests the home opener of the New Jersey Jackals, a minor league baseball team owned by Amtrak Board member Floyd Hall. View the Floyd Hall demonstration and protest leaflet here, and view additional pictures of the "Ballgame Protest" in our Photo Gallery.

June 1, 2006 BRS General Chairman Jim York - Why Amtrak won't negotiate

May 19, 2006 TCU Letter to Amtrak Board of Directors

May 2, 2006 Bargaining Update

March 15, 2006 Penn Fed BMWED members protest against Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum's position on Amtrak funding, our BMWED contracts, and his overall "Bush" league anit-labor agenda.

Santorum's Philadelphia office was target of the BMWED protest and Philadelphia residents were supportive, showing outright contempt for the Senator. No Justice, No Peace!

  • Pennsylvania Federation flyer - Why Won't Rick Help Amtrak Workers
  • AFL-CIO flyer on Rick Santorum
  • The Lantern Project flyer on Rick Santorum

View pictures of the Santorum Protest in our Photo Gallery

February 1, 2006 TWU Local Vice President Bruce Carlton's letter to members urging support for new contract

January 9, 2006 Amtrak VP Bress responds to BMWE President Simpson's January 5, 2006 letter regarding the January 2, 2006 article in the New York Times

January 5, 2006 BMWE President Simpson writes Amtrak's Vice-President Joe Bress regarding the recent New York Times editorial and how interest arbitration should apply to Amtrak

January 1, 2006 Amtrak's Vice-President Labor Relations Joe Bress co-writes an Op-Ed piece that appears in the New York Times, wherein the virtues of binding interest arbitration to settle transit strikes is touted. Ironic?

December 15, 2005 Ed Wytkind, President of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO comments on cronyism between Bush's White House and the Amtrak Board of Directors.

December 1, 2005 Union Lawsuit Against NMB and Letter to Members

November 23, 2005 General Chairman Dodd's response to Senator Santorum's September 7th letter.

November 16, 2005 Amtrak Chairman Laney announces Amtrak will sell assets. With Gunn out of the way, the Republican henchmen can reign free and free rein.

November 2005 - Amtrak Informational Pickets

In November of 2005, BMWED workers protested having gone 5 years without an Amtrak contract. Beginning at Newark, New Jersey’s Penn Station on November 15th, BMWED workers leafleted morning commuters raising awareness that the shutdown of Amtrak was likely. Union volunteers post themselves at track platform entrances and exits handing out leaflets warning of a “Disruption of Service” and how the impact will spill over to Jersey Transit and Long Island Railroads. An "Informational Picket" line was set up immediately outside the Newark Penn Station, complete with signs, banners, flags, and a sound system.

The riding public, shocked that Amtrak workers have not had a contract in 5 years are even more horrified by the thought of shutting down rail travel into and out of New York City. Area commuters just recovered from the TWU Local 100 Christmas Strike. You can't strike Amtrak. Yes we can. Going 5 years without a contract has produced a militancy among Amtrak workers, and public fears are well founded.

The very next day, November 16th, BMWED workers leafleted and demonstrated at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, targeting both Amtrak, Jersey Transit, and SEPTA commuters. Public support was phenomenal. Congressional staffers begin to report a spike in phone calls regarding Amtrak and the public outcry that Amtrak would soon be on strike and closed for the Holidays. A demonstration forms in the front of 30th Street Station and gathers the attention of the press and local politicians.

Worker acrimony heightens. Threats of a disruption of Amtrak service spreads through the passenger rail community. Passengers increase calls to Congressional switchboards. Other Rail Labor Organizations join the BMWED in denouncing Amtrak's lack of good faith bargaining while pledging support for job actions.

On November 21, 2005, BMWED Amtrak workers were up bright and early to greet the morning commuters in Washington, DC. Leafleting of commuters continues not only for Amtrak passengers, but MARC and VRE commuters as well. By now Amtrak was on to us and at Washington's Union Station our protest, leafleting, and demonstration was met with opposition from station authorities and the Amtrak Police. As the Holiday season approaches, questions about rail travel plans are the focus. Will Amtrak be shut down for Christmas? Thanksgiving?

Forcibly removing Amtrak workers from inside Union Station, lines were drawn as to where we could “legally” demonstrate and what areas of the station and property was off limits for our protest. The Amtrak police were ill-equipped to debate our members over our rights of free speech. It became obvious just how much Amtrak corporate was disturbed by our demonstrations.

Over the course of 3 days, BMWED and BLET Amtrak Workers handed out over 100,000 leaflets to commuters and rail passengers in major transportation centers. Our message was covered in the papers, on radio, and on television. In concert with our demonstrations on Amtrak's Southern District, other BMWED Federations and Systems were conducting simular protests in New Haven Connecticut, Providence Rhode Island, Boston Massachusetts, and as far away as California.

In hindsight it was most likely these important demonstrations that began to turn the tide, gaining public recognition of Rail Labor's plight and grabbing the attention of Congress and the White House. Thanks to the very many BMWED members, BLET members, Teamster officials, various rail labor unions and the Local Labor Leaders who participated in these November demonstrations.

No Justice, No Peace!

  • Washington DC Informational Picket Press Release
  • November 16, 2005 Philadelphia PA Informational Picket Press Release
  • November 15, 2005 Newark NJ Informational Picket Press Release
  • November 15, 2005 Leaflet to Amtrak Commuters
  • November 15, 2005 Congressman Menendez on Amtrak

Pictures of these important demonstrations are included in our Photo Gallery

November 15, 2005 Congress just beginning to realize just how useless the Amtrak Board has become. “Amtrak Board of Death” is a copulation of youtube videos made available by dc3rdrail. Watch as the freshly fired David Gunn squirms, see Jeffrey Rosen scolded, hear members of Congress rip Floyd Hall and Enrico Sosa a new ass.

Amtrak President Gunn - FIRED


While the perception expressed in the above video does not necessarily reflect those of the BMWED, there are some interesting points made. Thank you Mr. Booth

November 4, 2005 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen - Press Release on GOA Report

November 3, 2005 House Transportation Committee News Release

November 2, 2005 BMWED Legislative Alert: Amtrak Senate Bill 1516

November 1, 2005 GAO Report on Amtrak to Chairman of House Committee (2.1mb)

November 1, 2005 BMWED -vs- NMB Complaint

October 28, 2005 BMWE President Simpson's letter to the National Mediation Board Chairman Read Van de Water wherein the organization expects fair consideration in lieu of her public comments

October 17, 2005 BMWED President Simpson's Letter to Amtrak Board Chairman Laney, Amtrak President Gunn - "Accept Arbitration"

October 13, 2005 Rep. Robert Menedez (D-NJ) writes to Amtrak Board Chairman David Laney critical of the Board's vote to break up Amtrak

October 1, 2005 Appeal to Reason, Who Runs Amtrak?

September 21, 2005 Director TEAMSTER Rail Conference John Murphy's Testimony to House Transportation Committee on Amtrak's Strategic Reform proposal

September 7, 2005 Senator Rick Santourm responds to General Chairman Dodd's April letter requesting assistance breaking NMB's shackles. Congratulations to Pennsylvania for ousting this turd politician

July 26, 2005 Amtrak Workers Need Contract - Philadelphia Inquire editorial submitted by BMWED General Chairman Jed Dodd

June 13, 2005 BMWE President Simpson's letters to U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and to U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. President Simpson addresses Amtrak's refusal to arbitrate the dispute and attaches Amtrak President Gunn's letter as encolsure

June 10, 2005 BMWE President Simpson's draft to members of Congress

June 10, 2005 Amtrak Woes Hit Dining Car - New York Times

June 9, 2005 TEAMSTERS announce Amtrak Press Conference to be held at Baltimores Penn Station

June 9, 2005 Cartoon - David Gunn Fiddles While Amtrak Burns

June 7, 2005 Amtrak is Falling Apart, letter from General Chairman Dodd to Amtrak BMWED Committees

June 3, 2005 Joint letter from BMWED/BLET General Chairmen to FRA Joseph Boardman regarding safety and security on Amtrak

May 26, 2005 Amtrak President Gunn's Reply to Arbitration Request

May 25, 2005 Mineta's letter to Amtrak President Gunn RE: Amtrak Spending

May 21, 2005 Bush Plan Would Bankrupt Amtrak

May 19, 2006 Penn Fed/BLET Joint Letter

May 18, 2005 Assessment of Amtrak Performance and Requirements

May 15, 2005 Appeal to Reason, Amtrak Version

May 5, 2005 BMWE President Simpson's letter to Amtrak President Gunn regarding binding interest arbitration

April 21, 2005 Amtrak's Final Solution, Memo from BMWED Legislative Director Danny Gates and Director of Strategic Coordination & Research Don Griffin regarding the release of Amtrak's "Strategic Reform Initiative" and FY06 grant request.

April 15, 2005 Bush Administration Introduces Reform Act

April 13, 2005 Bush Passenger Rail Investment Act

April 11, 2005 Amtrak VP Bress writes NMB regarding the BMWE's recent request to be released from mediation, and defining Amtrak's position as "a release is not appropriate"

April 4, 2005 General Chairman Dodd's letter to Amtrak BMWED Committees regarding the Amtrak Bargaining and Membership Survey results

April 4, 2005 General Chairman Dodd requests assistance from Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) in breaking the stranglehold of the Bush appointed NMB

April 1, 2005 Union Newsletter Bargaining Update

March 30, 2005 BMWED President Simpson's letter to Senate, and to the House

March 29, 2005 The National Mediation Board's letter to Amtrak's VP Bress, reagrding the BMWE's request for release

March 29, 2005 President Simpson to NMB Request for Arbitration

March 25, 2005 Amtrak Board Wary of Bush Overhaul Plan

March 23, 2005 Senator Rick Santorum on Amtrak Funding - article entitled "Fund Amtrak, and Keep an Eye on It"

March 23, 2005 TTD Letter to Senator Santorum after Rick's March 16th vote against Amtrak funding

March 17, 2005 BMWED Amtrak Legislative Alert

March 16, 2005 Senate Roll Call Vote on Amtrak Funding

March 2, 2005 Brown/Oberstar Dear Colleague Letter re: Starving Amtrak will Destroy It

February 17, 2005 Amtrak's Annual Report to Congress

February 16, 2005 Letter to Amtrak Board from Senator Murray

February 15, 2005 Memo to the Board from David Gunn, CEO

February 10, 2005 Letter from 35 Republicans to the Budget Committee

January 5, 2005 Membership Letter with Survey and Bargaining Update

May 7, 2004 Amtrak's Contract Demands

October 3, 2003 Leaflet for Withdraw of Services

September 16, 2003 Press Release, Withdraw of Services

September 8, 2003 Status of Bargaining - Amtrak's proposal to Shopcrafts

July 2, 2003 BMWE Settlement Proposal A-13080

May 15, 2002 David Gunn appointed as Amtrak President

1997 Contract Struggle Leaflet

return to top of page


return to the Amtrak page

© Pennsylvania Federation BMWED-IBT, may not be reproduced without express permission