Rail Contract Negotiations Resume

Negotiations between major U.S. railroads and their unions resumed on Aug. 22 in an effort to reach an agreement on a new contract.

The National Carriers Conference Committee, which represents railroad management, and a coalition representing 12 rail labor unions faces a Sept. 16 deadline to reach a new contract.

If a new pact is not reached by then either side is free by law to engage in self-help, which means a strike in the case of the unions or a lockout in the case of railroad management.

A presidential emergency board on Aug. 18 released a series of recommendations for a new contract. The recommendations addressed wages, benefits and work rules affecting 125,000 unionized rail workers.

Any agreement reached on or before Sept. 16 would be subject to ratification by union members.

The two sides also could agree to extend the deadline to reach an agreement beyond Sept. 16 if they believe a new pact might be within reach.

A report posted on the website of the trade magazine Railway Age noted that two of the unions have distributed to their members information pertaining to what the unions described as misinformation that has been circulating among the rank and file about the recommendations issued by the PEB.

Among the misinformation is that railroad workers are quitting their jobs in large numbers and that there are few applicants for railroad jobs.

On the latter point, the information provided by the unions said that it is true that the number of applicants in remote and sparsely populated areas have been few, but railroads have sought to compensate for that by offering relocation bonuses and other incentives.

Otherwise, the railroads have said they have been receiving more than 42 applicants for each open position.

As for the rate of attrition, during the first six months of 2022, the voluntary “quit rate” was between 2 percent and 3.7 percent.

By comparison the quit rate reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for the transportation, warehousing and utility sector was 13.1 percent during the same period.

The fact sheets were distributed by he Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, and the  Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers.

The Railway Age article can be read at https://www.railwayage.com/news/peb-250-correcting-misinformation-in-labor-ranks/

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