Seventh union ratifies tentative US rail agreement

by | Nov 8, 2022 | Updates

A seventh rail union has ratified the tentative contract deal brokered by the Biden administration, bringing Class I railroads and unions one step closer to staving off a strike that could shut down the US freight rail system as early as Nov. 19.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), representing 5,000 rail members, on Saturday ratified the agreement the White House helped broker in mid-September after rejecting the deal in an initial vote in October, the National Carriers Conference Committee (NCCC) said Sunday in a statement.

The IAM is now one of seven unions that have voted to accept the agreement with the nation’s freight railroads. Two of the 12 unions — The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division (BMWED) and The Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen — rejected the deal in October, while three unions have yet to vote. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the Sheet Metal Workers Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers Transportation Division — two of the nation’s largest rail unions — will announce the results of their voting between Nov. 17 and Nov. 21.

The BMWED has the earliest strike deadline and could initiate a work stoppage as early as Nov. 19, the NCCC said. Labor and management remain in a “status quo” period until then. But without support from all unions, a strike could legally occur that day, shutting down the country’s entire freight rail system.

The contract proposal hammered out by the Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) formed by the Biden administration calls for a compounded 24 percent wage increase for rail workers covering 2020 through 2024 and $5,000 in bonus payments. The lack of paid sick days has been a point of contention, though. The current PEB deal would increase the previous proposed time off from two to three personal days a year. The BMWED is pushing for 56 hours of paid sick time annually.

Source: JOC

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