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Rail Union Rejects Deal, Renews Strike Threat

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Rail Union Rejects Deal, Renews Strike Threat
(CTN News) – Rail workers rejected a deal with freight roads on Monday, renewing the possibility of a strike that could cripple the economy, but both sides will return to the bargaining table before a strike can occur.

The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employers Division union represented about 56% of the track maintenance workers who voted against the five-year contract, despite its 24% raises and $5,000 bonuses.

Despite the major railroads eliminating nearly one-third of their jobs over the past six years, union president Tony Cardwell said roads did not do enough to address worker concerns about paid time off – particularly sick time – and demanding working conditions.

Rail workers are discouraged and upset with working conditions and compensation and hold their employers in low regard. Roaders do not feel valued,” Cardwell said.

As shown by their stubborn refusal to provide a higher quantity of paid time off, especially for sickness, they resent management’s indifference to their quality of life.

Railroads did not immediately comment on the rejected contract.

The other four railroad unions have approved agreements with BNSF, Union Pacific, Kansas City Southern, CSX and Norfolk Southern, but all 12 unions representing 115,000 workers must ratify their contracts to avoid a strike.

Another union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, initially rejected its deal, but has since renegotiated. Voting won’t be done until mid-November.

Businesses also urged Congress to intervene and block a strike if an agreement couldn’t be reached because so many businesses rely on railroads for raw materials and finished goods.

This summer, Biden appointed a special panel of arbitrators to make recommendations on the unions’ deals.

This Presidential Emergency Board recommended the largest raises for rail workers in more than four decades, but it did not resolve the unions’ concerns regarding working conditions.

It recommended that the unions engage in additional negotiations or arbitration with each road individually, which could take years.

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