ARLINGTON, VA – Jan. 24, 2022 – The nation’s freight railroads welcome the National Mediation Board’s assistance in reaching fair and reasonable national collective bargaining agreements with the ten labor organizations that comprise the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition (CBC). The CBC unions, which together represent approximately 80 percent of the 115,000 employees participating in the ongoing national bargaining round, are filing applications for mediation with the NMB.
“From the outset, the railroads have maintained that this bargaining round presents a unique opportunity for the parties to work together and reach voluntary agreements that address challenges and opportunities facing the freight rail industry for the benefit of all stakeholders, including rail employees,” said Brendan Branon, chairman of the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC). The NCCC represents the railroads in national bargaining.
“The railroads believe in the collective bargaining process and will continue negotiating in good faith to reach voluntary agreements with the CBC unions. In that regard, the railroads welcome the NMB’s assistance and look forward to their discussions with the CBC and the NMB.”
In these negotiations, which commenced in November 2019, the railroads have made proposals to modernize labor agreements and leverage transformational technologies – including developments in automation and safety – to manage long-term structural changes in rail traffic.
The railroads propose reaching agreements on a fair compensation and benefit package for rail workers that modernize the national railroad health plan and also update certain outdated work rules that, in some cases, have not been revised in decades.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 NCCC, 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.
Rail industry negotiations are governed by the Railway Labor Act (RLA), which is designed to minimize service disruptions because of labor disputes. In the railroad industry, collective bargaining agreements remain in force indefinitely. Without a contract expiration date, negotiators do not work against a fixed deadline and proceed through various steps that are designed to facilitate negotiated settlements. These steps include, among other things, compulsory mediation under the supervision of the NMB, which is commonly used in national freight rail bargaining. Strikes and other forms of work stoppages are prohibited while this process is underway.
The railroads, through the NCCC, are already in mediation with a second coalition consisting of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (BMWED) and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers – Mechanical Division (SMART-MD). With this most recent filing by the CBC, all unions in national handling are now engaged in the mediation process. In every case the railroads’ goal is to reach fair agreements in a timely manner.