Freight Railroads Committed to Reaching Fair Labor Agreements


The nation’s major freight railroads are currently in national bargaining with 13 labor unions representing 145,000 employees.

On November 3, 2014, the railroads’ representative, the National Carriers’ Conference Committee, initiated the start of the 2015 bargaining round by serving bargaining proposals (so-called “Section 6 Notices“) to the rail unions. The railroads seek to negotiate compensation and benefits that fairly reflect economic conditions and the mainstream American workplace, and reforms to work rules that improve customer service and employee utilization.

Health care remains a significant challenge. The railroads propose continued reforms to national health care plan designs and funding responsibilities, areas in which the national plans remain substantially outside mainstream norms. Their proposals also address significant concerns and additional costs associated with health care reform.

For this bargaining round, the unions have formed three separate coalitions to bargain with the railroads. In each of those negotiations, the parties are working together to narrow the issues and find common ground.

The freight railroads and unions negotiate under the 1926 Railway Labor Act, which includes safeguards to minimize service disruptions because of labor disputes. Under the law, collective bargaining agreements remain in force indefinitely until the parties agree to change them.

Thirty-four railroads, including BNSF, CSX Transportation, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific, are participating in this bargaining round.

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