Three more railroad unions have reached tentative agreements with U.S. freight railroads on a new labor contract, announced the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC).
The tentative agreements announced Sunday include the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters; the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers; and the International Association of Sheet metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers-Mechanical Department.
“The tentative agreements … include a 24% wage increase during the five-year period from 2020 to 2024 — with a 14.1% wage increase effective immediately — and five annual $1,000 lump sum payments. Portions of the wage increases and lump sum payments are retroactive and will be paid out promptly upon ratification of the agreements by the unions’ membership,” said the NCCC, the group representing Class I railroads in the contract negotiations.
The tentative agreement also adds an additional paid day off that can be used as a personal day, vacation day or on the employee’s birthday.
The three unions represent more than 86,000 freight rail employees. Eight unions have accepted tentative deals they will be taking to their members for ratification. Altogether, there are over 140,000 employees at the bargaining table employed by the U.S. operations of Class I railroads.
A new labor deal has been in the works since January 2020, but the negotiations had failed to progress. A federal mediation board took up the negotiations but released the parties from those efforts earlier this summer.
Unions respond to potential hazardous shipments embargo
The heads of two rail unions said Sunday that the freight railroads’ decision to begin delaying shipments of security-sensitive and hazardous material ahead of this week’s looming strike deadline is only an attempt to get shippers to increase pressure on Congress to intervene and block a work stoppage.
Several major Class I railroads said Friday they would begin curtailing shipments of hazardous materials and other chemicals in the event loads could be left unattended on a rail network. A strike or lockout is not allowed until Friday.
“This completely unnecessary attack on rail shippers by these highly profitable Class I railroads is no more than corporate extortion,” the heads of the unions that represent engineers and conductors — Jeremy Ferguson, president of the Sheet metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers-Transportation Division union, and Dennis Pierce, president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen union — said in a joint statement.
“Our unions remain at the bargaining table and have given the rail carriers a proposal that we would be willing to submit to our members for ratification, but it is the rail carriers that refuse to reach an acceptable agreement. In fact, it was abundantly clear from our negotiations over the past few days that the railroads show no intentions of reaching an agreement with our unions, but they cannot legally lock out our members until the end of the cooling-off period. Instead, they are locking out their customers beginning on Monday and further harming the supply chain in an effort to provoke congressional action.”