Plan for rail contract deal does not resolve concerns: union

Plan for rail contract deal does not resolve concerns: union

The head of the country’s largest railway union is opposing a report designed to kick-start stalled contract talks, which he says isn’t doing enough about working conditions.

The railroads said earlier this week it was willing to work on a deal based on the recommendations of the Presidential Emergency Board that President Biden appointed last month.

The proposal calls for 115,000 rail workers to receive a 24% pay raise and thousands of dollars in bonuses.

Based on the unions’ comments, workers may not be ready to sign yet.

A freight train parked at the yard

A BNSF Railway Company train is parked in Seattle. The head of the country’s largest railway union says the report designed to resolve stalled contract talks with freight railways did not do enough to allay concerns over working conditions. ((AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File) / AP Newsroom)

Federal law would allow a strike or lockout if the two sides can’t agree on a new deal by mid-September.

PLAN TO GET A RAILWAY CONTRACT DISPUTE RELOCATED 24% INCREASES

Congress is expected to intervene at that point to keep the supply chain moving.

A railroad strike could have devastating consequences for companies that depend on Union Pacific, BNSF, Norfolk Southern, CSX and other major freight railroads to supply raw materials and ship their products.

Union Pacific is one of the railroads involved in talks

A Union Pacific train passes through Union, Neb. ((AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File) / AP Newsroom)

The advisory board’s recommendations were a “huge improvement” over railroads’ previous proposals, said Jeremy Ferguson, president of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation – Transportation Division union that represents conductors. But, he added, “the recommendations don’t go far enough to provide our members with the quality of life they’ve earned, and that both they and their families deserve.”

UNION PACIFIC SECOND QUARTER PROFIT IMPROVES TO REDUCE DELAYS IN RAIL DELIVERY

The other 11 unions involved in the contract talks have not yet commented on the details.

Ferguson’s comments reflect some of the concerns individual railroad workers have posted online since the report was released Tuesday.

BNSF Freight Train

East of Hardin, Mont, a BNSF railroad can be seen carrying carloads of coal from the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming. ( (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File) / AP Newsroom)

Another major sticking point in the negotiations was the railway’s proposal to reduce train crews from two to one. The unions are firmly opposed to the move – not just to protect jobs – but also because of safety concerns.

The railroads claim they don’t need as many workers and locomotives as they used to because they’ve overhauled their operations to run fewer, longer trains.

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The group negotiating on behalf of major railroads, the National Carriers Conference Committee, said the recommended deal would deliver the largest increase in decades and push average railroad salaries to $110,000 a year by the end of the five-year deal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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