The industry, however, is facing a challenging new business reality. The U.S. economy continues a tepid recovery and demand for rail service is diminishing in some critical areas. The current labor negotiations must take this changing environment into account as the parties negotiate over increasing compensation going forward.
In 2015, total annual compensation (pay and benefits) for Class I freight rail employees covered in the current round of national bargaining averaged approximately $113,000. This is almost 55 percent higher than the total compensation for the average full-time U.S. employee ($73,000) for the same year.
Railroad employees have enjoyed significant gains in purchasing power that have far exceeded inflation. Between 2005 and 2015, their compounded wage increases from national bargaining totaled 42 percent and outpaced inflation by 50 percent.
In addition to high pay and exceptional benefits, railroad employees enjoy longer careers than workers in other industries. On average, railroad employee tenure is three times longer than other private sector workers, according to the U.S. Labor Department.