Railroads vs. Unions: What’s Next and Why the Strike Threat Hasn’t Ended

threat US freight rail strike Still looming. Union members still need to ratify a tentative agreement reached by their leaders. Some local members have already rejected the terms.

The largest freight railroads in the United States and union leaders Make a preliminary deal on Wednesday After 20 hours of negotiations, he temporarily avoided a strike that would have shut down railroads across the country and disrupted the economy.

But the case is not over yet. 19 members of the International Machinists and Space Workers Association have already rejected the agreement, although they agreed to postpone a strike until September 29 to allow more time for negotiations and allow other unions to vote.

Biden says railroad worker avoided strike ‘real economic crisis’

temporary deal

The deal was negotiated by the unions representing engineers and conductors, but all twelve railroad unions are likely to benefit from concessions from the railroad.

The American Railroad Association said the new contracts provide rail workers with a 24% wage increase over the five-year period from 2020 to 2024, including an average immediate payout of $11,000 upon certification.

Railroad workers will also receive $5,000 bonuses in the deal retroactive to 2020.

The rail industry has said average railroad workers’ salaries will reach $110,000 by the end of this five-year deal in 2025.

Unions accuse railroads of ‘corporate terrorism’ as deadline approaches

BNSF Rail Train

A worker rides a locomotive at a BNSF rail yard Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, in Kansas City, Kansas (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) ((AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)/AP Newsroom)

In addressing union concerns, the deal also includes an additional one day of paid time off per year. Railroads have also agreed to allow workers to take unpaid leave for doctor appointments or medical procedures without incurring penalties under their attendance rules.

Workers will have to pay a larger share of their health insurance costs, but their premiums will be set at 15% of the total cost of the insurance plan. Currently, railroad workers pay $228.88 per month for health insurance, which is about 12.6% of the plan’s total cost.

What happened after the initial deal was announced?

IAM members voted to reject their agreement. However, the Union of Transport Communications and the Carmen Brotherhood Railway Department jointly announced that Members vote for approval Deal. Other union votes to agree to the initial deals are still pending.

Mark Meeks, chair of the National Right to Work Committee, told FOX Business that those outcomes could happen at any time “because the tentative agreements were made pending the votes of union members.”

Selkirk, New York Railroad locomotives

Locomotives pair with railcars at Selkirk Railroad Square Wednesday, September 14, 2022 in Selkirk, New York (AP Photo/Hans Pennink) (AP Photo/Hans Pennink/AP Newsroom)

There is a warning.

Mix said there is nothing in the railroad labor law that requires ordinary workers to vote to ratify union contracts, meaning union bosses can override such votes.

“They are also known to enforce a contract even after workers voted overwhelmingly to reject it,” he said.

However, “given the political headache it would create for the Biden administration for this deal now, if union officials allow a vote, ordinary workers will be under tremendous pressure to ratify the deal,” Meeks added. .

He said that meant “agreeing to a contract they wouldn’t otherwise do because it would advance the political goals of the big Labor Party at this critical moment before the midterm elections.”

The National Mediation Board did not respond to FOX Business’s request for comment.

Biden administration rolls over to avert potential rail strike as deadline approaches

What could happen then?

If units reject the initial agreements, the threat of strike/lockdown returns. However, some things can happen in order to prevent a disruption in the economy.

If the initial agreement is rejected, even by some unions, Congress can intervene Before the potential hit to keep the supply chain moving.

There can also be arbitration for final offer, known as “baseball arbitration”, in which the arbitrator will present the outstanding issues on both sides and choose to bid one party over the other.

According to the law firm Welborn Sullivan Meck & Tooley, “This is known as a ‘baseball arbitration’ because each side presents a suggested number or remedy and the arbitrator is required to choose one offer or the other.”

Amtrak passenger train departs in Chicago

Amtraks California Zephyr passenger train departs Chicago Union Station in Chicago, Illinois, March 2, 2022 (Luke Sharrett/AFP via Getty Images) (Luke Charette/AFP via Getty Images/Getty Images)


If the union goes on strike, it will be “virtually impossible for other unions to ignore” and they will honor the picket line, further hampering already troubled supply chains.

“They will also say ‘We have an empathy strike,'” Meeks said.

Representatives of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Instructors, Union Pacific, Southern Norfolk and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers 19 did not respond to FOX Business’s request for comment.

ribbon protection else they change they change %
UNP Pacific Union Corporation. 215.22 +3.33 + 1.57%
National Security Council Southern Norfolk Corporation. 233.98 -4.88 -2.04%

However, Jeremy Ferguson, SMART’s Head of Transportation, and Dennis Pearce, President of the Locomotive Engineers and Trainer Brothers’ Brotherhood, issued a joint statement after the IDF’s Transport Division, Air, Rail, Transport and Brothers. The International Brotherhood of Truck Drivers’ International Locomotive Engineers and Training Division reached a tentative agreement.

“For the first time, our unions were able to obtain negotiated contract language to exempt leave of absence for certain medical events from carrier attendance policies,” the statement read. “Our union will now begin the process of submitting the initial agreement to the ranks for a vote by the union members.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Leave a Comment