Investors Pushing for Paid Sick Leave at NS, UP

Activist investors plan to seek shareholder resolutions urging railroads to grant paid sick leave to all railroad workers.

Trains magazine reported on its website that the non-binding resolutions have been filed at Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific.

At NS the resolution was filed by Impact Shares. “We believe paid sick leave to be essential to protecting and maintaining one of a company’s – and the economy’s – most important assets: workers,” Impact Chief Engagement Officer Marvin Owens said in a statement. “Paid sick leave should not be seen by companies as an expense, but as a prudent investment – an insurance policy that will promote a strong workforce and, by extension, a healthy economy.”

The resolution could be voted on by NS shareholders next spring.

The Trains report said quoted Bascome Majors, an analyst at Susquehanna Financial Group, as saying providing workers with paid sick time could cut railroad earnings by up to 2 percent.

Paid sick days became a sticking point in recent negotiations to amend the contract governing wages, benefits, and work rules with 12 railroad labor unions.

The contract dispute was eventually “settled” when Congress adopted a resolution imposing a contact on the unions that increased wages but did not give them any paid sick days.

That contract was based largely on recommendations of a presidential emergency board that said unions and individual railroads should negotiate the sick leave issue.

The Association of American Railroads has sought to frame the issue by saying that in past negotiations unions decided to forgo paid sick days in favor of higher wages.

The AAR also has noted how much vacation time railroad workers receive and how railroaders can take personal leave days for any reason.

Unions have countered that these require advance approval from railroad management and are inadequate to cover sudden and short-term health matters.

The Trains article can be read at

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