1. What does the CBC’s mediation filing mean for the national collective bargaining process?

A mediation filing is a normal part of the collective bargaining process and has been used in many recent national railroad negotiations to facilitate final agreements. Under the federal Railway Labor Act (RLA), which governs labor relations and the collective bargaining process in the freight rail industry, either party is permitted to file an application for mediation with the National Mediation Board (NMB). Once an application is filed, the NMB will docket the case and assign one or more mediators to facilitate continued dialogue and help the parties reach an agreement. 

  1. How long does mediation last?

There is no time limit for the mediation process. It often takes many months, or even years, to conclude a mediation process under the RLA depending upon the complexity of the negotiations and other factors. Mediation ends only when the parties reach a voluntary agreement or the NMB concludes that all reasonable efforts to reach such an agreement through mediation have failed.

  1. Is there any chance of a disruption in freight rail service?

The RLA was designed to avoid strikes in the transportation industry that would substantially impact interstate commerce. As such, strikes and other forms of work stoppages are prohibited while the parties are in mediation and for a period thereafter.

For decades, the national bargaining process under the RLA has been remarkably successful in facilitating contract settlements without labor strikes. In fact, the last service disruption due to a dispute arising from national bargaining was in the early 1990s. The railroads believe in the collective bargaining process and will continue negotiating in good faith to reach voluntary agreements without any disruptions to service.

More information regarding the bargaining process can be found here.

  1. When do you expect to reach these agreements?

While it is impossible to predict when any agreement will be reached, the railroads are committed to the negotiations process and will continue their efforts to reach mutually beneficial agreements. In that regard, the railroads welcome the NMB’s assistance and look forward to discussions with the CBC and the NMB.

  1. What are the major issues in the bargaining round?

As is typical, the major issues in the bargaining round involve wages, health benefits and work rules. The railroads propose a fair compensation and benefit package for rail workers who already rank among the most highly compensated employees in the country. The railroads also are seeking to update certain outdated work rules that, in some cases, have not been revised in decades.

To learn more about the railroads’ proposals, click here.

Several railroads, also represented by the National Carriers’ Conference Committee, are pursuing local discussions directly with the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers – Transportation Division (SMART-TD) regarding redeployment of conductors from the cab of the locomotive to ground-based positions.


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