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Category: Transportation and Logistics

Supply Chain News: Threat of Railway Worker Strike Rises as another Union Votes No to Contract

 

Even though a Number of Rail Unions have Ratified the Deal, they will Honor Picket Lines of those Voting No

Nov. 22, 2022
 
 

One of the largest US railroad labor union’s rank and file workers have voted down a tentative agreement with the railroads.

Surpply Chain Digest Says...

 

The disputed terms have to do with so-called “quality of life” issues, specifically around time-off - or lack thereof.

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The move by the SMART-TD union employees increases the likelihood of a strike by rail workers in December, which could deliver a blow to an already wobbly US economy.

Most of SMART-TD’s 36,000 members are conductors.

Meanwhile, another of two largest of the 12 total unions involved in negotiations with the rail carriers, BLET, voted to ratify the labor deal but said it would honor a picket line by SMART-TD workers.

Two other smaller unions had already voted down the deal reached by union leadership and rail carrier representatives.

The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees (BMWED and the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS) both said they will go on strike December 5 if they don’t see a new offer from the two unions can align schedules.

Together, SMART-TD, BMWED, and BRS represent more than 50% of all rail workers.

Association of American Railroads CEO Ian Jefferies focused on the positive, saying after the two votes were tallied that “Today, the BLET joined the majority of our unions in approving the largest wage increases in nearly five decades and also paved a path toward greater scheduling predictability for its members.”

In the event of a strike, which some estimate will cost the US economy $2 billion per day, Congress has the authority under the Railway Labor Act to take action to avert one – though it is not required to do anything either.

With regard to the possibility of government intervention, “The ball is now in the railroads’ court,” said SMART-TD president Jeremy Ferguson.

He added “But the railroad executives who constantly complain about government interference and regularly bad-mouth regulators and Congress now want Congress to do the bargaining for them."

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On Monday, BLET president Dennis Pierce told CNBC that “Our members will certainly honor the picket line of BRS. I think every union will.”

The contracts being voted on provide significant pay raises and one-time lump sum distributions to workers.

The disputed terms have to do with so-called “quality of life” issues, specifically around time-off - or lack thereof.

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