Railroad union rejects Biden-brokered labor deal, raising prospects for strike

A union representing nearly 12,000 rail workers voted on Monday to agree a tentative contract agreement between freight rail companies and all of their 12 unions. mediated by the White House Last month.

why does it matter: The Brotherhood’s rejection of the Teamsters Road Maintenance Personnel Division (BMWED) raises the possibility of a nationwide strike again. That would be devastating to the economy and possibly even during the height of the holiday season – a political headache for the Biden administration.

  • “Railway drivers do not feel valued,” said Tony Cardwell, President of BMWED. “They resent the fact that management takes no regard for their quality of life, evidenced by their stubborn reluctance to provide more paid time off, especially for sickness.” statement.
  • Rejection is a “big deal” union official Axios said. If the parties can’t come to terms, there may be a strike that other unions will respect – or Congress may step in.

reaction: in statementThe group representing shipping companies in the bargaining, the National Carriers Conference Committee, said it was “disappointed,” but noted that nothing had changed for now. “Failure of certification does not represent an immediate service disruption risk,” she said.

  • President Biden “remains focused on avoiding rail shutdowns, and both sides have said they share that desire,” White House spokesman Robin Patterson told Axios in an email.
  • “We stand ready to support the parties in their efforts, and we continue to urge both sides to finish their work and avoid even the threat of future closures,” Patterson added.

playing condition: There are 12 unions representing about 115,000 workers. Four more unions have ratified the agreement, and over the next month or so, seven more unions are due to vote.

  • Insiders told Axios that the agreement gives employees a significant wage increase – after nearly three years of no increases – but does not adequately address many workers’ concerns about workplace conditions.
  • The two largest unions representing conductors and engineers — which make up about half of the railroad’s total workforce — are not due to finish voting until November 17.
  • It wouldn’t be uncommon to do more translations back and forth. Last year, John Deere union members voted against the contract twice due to pay increases they saw as insufficient before in the end. approve of one In mid-November. They also went on strike for some time.

Between the lines: Wall Street analysts say the best-case scenario from a business perspective is the deal goes through and higher wages attract new employees — crucial in an industry in shortage.

  • If the unions vote against the deal, Congress may be left with the lame-duck to step in. That would give Democrats more cover to force workers to strike a deal, Bascom Majors, a rail analyst at Susquehanna, wrote in a recent report. note.

what are they saying: Jeremy Ferguson, President of SMART, the largest federation with 37,000 members, He said The initial agreement fell short of his expectations.

  • “I will not sell members under this initial agreement. It is my responsibility and duty to provide you with factual information and allow you to make an informed decision,” he added in a separate statement. statement.

while, The more vocal workers say they don’t like the deal – but it’s not clear if they are in the majority.

  • “It’s horrible,” the Nevada-based union member and freight conductor told Axios of the agreement. He requested anonymity from Axios for fear of reprisal from his employer.
  • He encourages his colleagues to vote “no” to the initial agreement.
  • In the Zoom call, hosted by Railroad Workers United – an affinity group that includes members from all unions – workers said they did not like the agreement’s provisions on sick leave, worried about changes in the way schedules were managed, and said health insurance costs were too high in the new deal. . Many said they would not vote for her.

what do you want to watch: Upcoming votes.

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