As of October 27, 2022
Rail Workers’ Threat to Stop Working Continues to Grow
According to Rail Group News, on October 26, 2022, the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS) became the second of twelve rail unions to reject a tentative agreement amending wages, benefits, and work rules on most Class 1 railroads and many smaller ones.
More than 60% of signal operators voted to reject the agreement, mirroring the 57% rejection rate of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division of the Teamsters Union, whose votes were announced on October 10, 2022.The unions and the railroad carriers previously agreed to maintain a status quo until “early December,” meaning no strike or management lockout would occur until all twelve rail labor unions have completed the contract vote ratification process and make one last attempt to avert a strike or lockout.
Strike Continues to Loom
Unless the Rail Carriers agree to offer deal sweeteners as they have done twice before, a nationwide rail shutdown is looming. A strike by even one union would cause picket lines to be honored by employees of all the other unions. Rail Carriers could also lock out the entire workforce at the end of the mutually- agreed time period, as they did in 1992.
Congressional Alternative from Congress – Dubious
Preemptive legislation has been drafted by Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, who serves on the Senate Labor Committee, and is currently being circulated for comment in both the House and the Senate. Congress could legislate a resolution but that may be difficult during a lame-duck session of Congress following the November 8, 2022, elections. Also, finding the necessary 60 votes in an evenly divided Senate is considered to be a long shot.
Breakdown of the Union Results to Date
Two unions representing some 25% of rail unionized employees have rejected the tentative deal as it is currently offered. Six rail labor unions have voted to ratify, representing 19% of affected employees. Four other unions which represent almost half of the unionized rail workers will announce their voting results on November 1st, 5th, and 17th. The tentative contract deal was brokered by the Biden Administration and trade associations are asking the White House to intervene before a potential strike.
For any questions regarding these updates or any of our services including, Freight Forwarding, Customs Brokerage, Cargo Insurance, Warehousing and Distribution or any other shipping service, please contact your Western Overseas representative.