On Saturday, November 5, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union members approved the terms of the deal presented by the railroad.
If you’ll recall, on July 15, President Joe Biden blocked a freight railroad strike in Omaha, Nebraska. This strike would disrupt the already fragile supply chain by delaying the shipment of goods for at least 60 days.
To combat this, President Biden appointed a board of arbitrators, the Presidential Emergency Board, to help the dispute with contract building and negotiation mediation.
The appointed Presidential Emergency Board gave the 12 unions involved a 124-page report outlining their suggested terms.
One of the biggest suggestions was a 24% raise for the 115,000 rail workers.
Early on Sept. 15, it was announced that the six Class I railroads and union workers reached a tentative deal with the management council for the rail carriers.
The tentative deal prevented about 115,000 conductors, engineers, and other employees from staging a walkout.
In a statement by President Biden, he said this deal would guarantee “better pay, improved working conditions and peace of mind around their health care costs.”
Just when we thought the rail unions and railroads reached a deal that pleased both parties, on October 10, approximately 12,000 union workers voted against the tentative labor agreement.
Union workers are still not satisfied with the terms of the sick-leave policy, compensation, and working conditions.
So far, seven of the 12 railroad unions have approved their contract terms.
Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division and Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen have rejected their deals stating that the contract still does not address their quality-of-life concerns.
Both unions have agreed to return to negotiations in an attempt to try to work out a new deal, but that conversation has been paused due to the union’s demands for paid sick time.
According to the railroad, the unions have forfeited their sick time for years in exchange for higher wages and improved short-term disability benefits.
The whiplash from this situation is nothing short of chaotic, if by November 19 a deal cannot be made, President Joe Biden and Congress will step in and enforce their own terms in order to prevent a strike. For continuous updates on this, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.
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