Arlington, VA (October 26, 2022) – The National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC), which represents the nation’s freight railroads in national collective bargaining, today issued the following statement:
We are disappointed that the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS) has failed to ratify the recent tentative agreement with the nation’s freight railroads, delaying the benefits of the tentative agreement for BRS-represented employees and further extending resolution of the bargaining round with BRS.
The NCCC and BRS have agreed to maintain the status quo period until early December. As such, the failed ratification does not present risk of an immediate service disruption.
The tentative agreement, which implemented the recommendations of Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) No. 250, included the largest wage package in nearly five decades, maintained rail employees’ platinum-level health benefits, and added an additional day of paid time off.
At present, six labor organizations have ratified agreements to resolve the national bargaining round that are based on the PEB’s recommendations, and tentative agreements with four other labor organizations remain subject to ratification. BRS is one of the two remaining unions that have failed to ratify agreements based on these recommendations and do not currently have a tentative agreement pending ratification.
In its announcement regarding the ratification results, BRS asserts that the tentative agreement is inadequate because it does not provide for additional paid sick time. However, the vast majority of BRS members work predictable schedules and all have access to time off. Like other rail employees, they can and do take time off for sickness and already have paid sickness benefits beginning after four days of illness-related absence and extending for up to a year. The structure of these benefits is a function of decades of bargaining where the unions have repeatedly agreed that short-term absences would be unpaid in favor of higher compensation for days worked and more generous sickness benefits for longer absences. The three experienced arbitrators appointed to PEB 250 by President Biden thoroughly reviewed and rejected a union proposal to add paid sick time for short-term absences to the existing system, noting in their report that union concerns had been considered in formulating the PEB’s historic wage recommendation.
The PEB’s recommendations were crafted by a panel of experts, and they represent a carefully considered compromise of all parties’ interests. They remain the framework for agreements with BRS and all other labor organizations in national bargaining.
For additional information about the bargaining round, including the status of all pending ratification votes, please click here.