One New US Class 1 Freight Railroad Tentative Agreement Announced; Two Unions Ratify Agreements; And One Union Turns Down Deal and Votes to Strike

The negotiations between the US Class 1 railroads and their unions are suddenly very fluid. There has been a flurry of activity over the past 36 hours with several updates provided, and they are summarized here.

On Tuesday evening (9-13-22), The National Carriers Conference Committee (NCCC), which represents the US freight railroads in talks with railroad unions, announced that it had reached a tentative agreement with The National Conference of Firemen and Oilers (NFCO), which represents 2,400 members.

Wednesday (9-14-22) morning the International Association of Machinists (IAM) District Lodge 19 reported that railroad machinists had rejected its tentative agreement. In a brief statement the IAM wrote, “The voting has concluded, and the results are in. The tentative agreement has been rejected and the strike authorization vote was approved.” Proactively, the IAM statement declared that “out of respect for the other Unions in the ratification process, an extension has been agreed to until September 29, 2022.” The IAM is returning to bargaining table.

Wednesday (9-14-22) afternoon the NCCC announced that two unions have successfully ratified their contracts. They are the Transportation Communications Union/IAM and the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen, which together represent more than 11,000 railroad workers.

The latest tentative agreement, two ratifications, and one rejection means that 9 out of the 12 labor unions that have been part of a 33-month-old collective bargaining process have either reached tentative agreement and are either waiting for, or already have, membership ratification.

The five Class 1 railroads are the BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific.

In summary, tentative agreements or ratifications have been reached for the following unions:

  • Transportation Communications Union/International Association of Machinists – Ratified
  • Brotherhood of Railway Carmen – Ratified
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
  • American Train Dispatchers Association
  • Brotherhood of Maintenance Way Employees Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters
  • International Brotherhood of Boilermakers

There are three remaining unions that have failed to reach an agreement with the railroads. They are the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers–Transportation Division and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen. These two unions make up roughly half of the rank-and-file workers covered under the contract—long with the International Association of Machinist (IAM) District Lodge 19, who rejected the original tentative agreement.

The strike deadline is 12:01 AM on Friday, September 16th, 2022.

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