Union rejects major US railroads deal

Aerial View of train passing through the mountains

A US union with almost 12,000 maintenance workers is rejecting the works agreement reached between the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC) and Class I freight railroads last month.

Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division (BMWED) membership voted against ratification of the tentative national agreement reached with the Class I freight railroads, sending the two sides back to the bargaining table and resetting the countdown to crippling staff walkouts.

In total, 11,845 BMWED members submitted ballots, 6,646 against ratification and 5,100 approving the tentative agreement.

The rejection of the tentative agreement results in a “status quo” period where the BMWED will reengage bargaining with the Class I freight carriers.

The status quo period will extend to five days after US Congress reconvenes, which is currently set for 14 November.

Railroads and workers’ unions reached a tentative agreement on 16 September to avert the major national rail strike that was looming on the US supply chain.

About 40 per cent of the nation’s long-distance trade is moved by rail, the shutdown would have impacted more than 7,000 trains and cost up to $2 billion a day according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Only 4 out of the 12 unions have ratified the agreement so far.

“The majority of the BMWED membership rejected the tentative national agreement and we recognise and understand that result,” President Tony D. Cardwell said.

“I trust that railroad management understands that sentiment as well. Railroaders are discouraged and upset with working conditions and compensation and hold their employer in low regard. Railroaders do not feel valued. They resent the fact that management holds no regard for their quality of life, illustrated by their stubborn reluctance to provide a higher quantity of paid time off, especially for sickness.”

The BMWED membership voted in record numbers on the tentative agreement.

The Port of Felixstowe has seen a significant uptick in container dwell following the second strike at the UK port.

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