Mediation Sought in Railroad Negotiations

Railroad labor unions are seeking mediation after they say that talks with five Class 1 railroads have broken down.

train image2The request to the National Mediation Board was made by the Rail Labor Coordinated Bargaining Group, which represents 85,000 workers.

The group has been meeting with the National Carriers’ Conference Committee, which represents BNSF, Union Pacific, Kansas City Southern, CSX and Norfolk Southern.

The negotiations have drug on for two years and focused on such issues as health care, compensation and workplace rules.

If the federal mediation board cannot help break the impasse or if they do and either side rejects their solution, a 30-day cooling off period is enacted before any strike or lockout could occur.

In a statement, the unions said the railroads are seeking to take advantage of the current political climate.

A spokesperson for railroads said that they welcome the intervention of federal mediators in helping the two sides find common ground.

The negotiations were instituted by the railroads in November 2014. The unions involved as the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers.

The railroads are seeking to connect wages to performance, reexamine healthcare coverage and costs, and modify work rules that the carriers claim interfere with or inhibit their ability to provide customers with timely, high quality and cost-effective service.

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