US Class 1 Freight Railroad Strike Averted After 20-Hour Marathon Bargaining Session

A 20-hour marathon bargaining session, hosted by US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, between the unions representing 115,000 workers and the US Class 1 freight railroads has yielded a tentative agreement which has averted, at least for now, a nationwide Class 1 railroad lockout or strike. The deal, which was announced at 5:00 AM EDT on Thursday (9-15-11), includes five major operators: the BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific.

According to union leaders, if the rank-and-file members of the different unions involved approve the tentative agreement, workers whose pay has been frozen since 2020, will win double-digit percentage increases and will be allowed to seek certain types of medical care without fear of being punished. According to the railroads, the tentative agreement includes an immediate 14.1% wage increase.

Unions, some of them having rejected prior proposals, will now vote on the agreement. However, even if some of those votes were to fail again, a strike would not be immediate. The deal includes another “cooling off” period lasting several weeks, when negotiations could resume before another deadline.

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