ARLINGTON, VA. (Oct. 3, 2019) – The National Railway Labor Conference’s largest members, including the major U.S. freight railroads, are asking a federal court to confirm that any dispute over their right to negotiate about train crew staffing in the upcoming national bargaining round must be resolved through arbitration.
The railroads filed a lawsuit today in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Fort Worth opposing positions that have been taken by the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, Transportation Division (SMART-TD). The union has maintained that decades-old labor agreements bar negotiations over crew staffing on freight rail trains. The freight railroads disagree and believe that collective bargaining is the proper forum to discuss the issue.
Proposals in the new bargaining round can first be exchanged on Nov. 1, and the industry is seeking to leverage new safety technology to redefine the role of conductors on certain trains. “The industry wants to work collaboratively with SMART-TD to shape a future, ground-based role of the conductor to best ensure we sustain a vibrant and competitive transportation system for our people, customers and the communities we serve,” said Brendan Branon, chairman of the National Railway Labor Conference and the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC), the bargaining representative for the major U.S. freight railroads.