The likelihood of a statewide strike beginning as early as mid-November has increased as America’s major freight railways have rejected requests from the only union that has thus far declined to endorse their new contract negotiated through the Biden administration .
Following its members’ vote last week to reject a new five-year contract offering 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (BMWED) has made new sick time demands. The National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC), which represents major railroads including BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific, has rejected these demands.
Ticker Security Last Change Change% 194.25 3.86 2.03% UNP UNION PACIFIC CORP. CSX, CSX Corporation 28.30 0.76 2.76% Norwich Southern Corporation 213.41 5.20 2.50% The NCCC highlighted that BMWED approved a tentative agreement weeks before their membership voted on it and claimed that the additional benefits requested by the union were denied by President Biden’s Presidential Emergency Board (PEB).
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The only union out of the dozen engaged that has so far voted against ratifying their new contract is the BMWED, the third-largest union involved in discussions. It might not, however, be the last.
So far, six unions have approved their new contracts, but votes from another five unions are still pending.
Railroad workers complain that they don’t get enough sick days, although railways dispute this.
The NCCC stated, “Now, after an unsuccessful initial membership ratification procedure, BMWED leadership is requesting more benefits and threatening to strike, this time based on the readily disproved assumption that union workers are not permitted to take sick leave.”
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Asserting that “rail employees can and do take time off for sickness,” the railroad negotiators added that it has long been an understanding between railroads and unions that the time off is unpaid “in favor of higher compensation for days worked and more generous sickness benefits for longer absences.”
Until the plan was rejected by BMWED members, the union agreed to resume talks and postpone any more strikes until after Congress reconvenes next month.
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Before time runs out, all 12 unions must accept their new contracts to prevent a strike. But if there are still holdouts at that point, Congress is anticipated to step in to prevent a work stoppage that might seriously harm the economy.
This report was made possible by the Associated Press.