Arlington, VA (October 19, 2022) – The National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC), which represents the nation’s freight railroads in national collective bargaining, today issued the following statement in response to the latest request from the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (BMWED):
The latest BMWED request for additional benefits is similar to a proposal which was carefully considered and rejected by President Biden’s Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) and comes weeks after the union entered into a tentative agreement that included the most generous wage package in almost 50 years of national rail negotiations.
At the time, BMWED leadership hailed the tentative agreement, saying that it would “substantially improve all BMWED Members’ wages and working conditions.” The agreement also included significant increases for travel expenses that were specifically requested by BMWED. Now, following an unsuccessful initial membership ratification process, BMWED leadership is asking for additional benefits and threatening to strike, this time based on the easily disproven premise that union workers are not allowed to take sick leave.
The health, safety, and wellbeing of rail employees is a top priority for all railroads. Rail employees can and do take time off for sickness and have comprehensive paid sickness benefits starting, in the case of BMWED-represented employees, after four days of absence and lasting up to 52 weeks. The structure of these benefits is a function of decades of bargaining where unions, including BMWED, 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.
Six unions have already ratified the tentative agreements brokered through the facilitation of the Biden administration. The PEB’s recommendations remain the framework for an agreement. Now is not the time to introduce new demands that rekindle the prospect of a railroad strike. The carriers have advised BMWED that its latest proposal will not be accepted.
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