Unions, Railroad Far Apart in Contract Proposals

As a presidential emergency begins to investigate the contract dispute between major U.S. railroads and their labor unions, it is finding the two sides are far apart  on wages and medical benefits.

The PEB began hearings on Sunday and the proposals they received from the two sides show a wide gulf between what unions want in wages and benefits and what the railroads are proposing to pay.

As reported by Trains magazine on its website, the unions want a 31.2 percent wage increase compounded over five years retroactive to Jan. 1, 2020.

The railroads have countered with a 17 percent compounded increase over the same term.

The Trains report cited a fact sheet released by Union Rail Unions, which represents the unions.

On a per year basis, the management offer calls for wage increases of 2 percent or 3 percent, except for a 6 percent increase in 2022.

The unions are seeking wage hikes of 6 percent in 2020 and 2021, 8 percent in 2022, and 4 percent in each of the final two years.

As for medical benefits, the unions want to maintain the status quo on the monthly worker contribution to healthcare, which is now $228.89.

Railroad management wants to increase the worker contribution to $321 while increasing the deductibles, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket maximums for individuals and families.

The PEB is expected to release its recommendations on or before Aug. 15.

The two sides can accept or reject those recommendations. If the latter occurs, neither side can engage in a strike or lockout for another 30 days.

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