More than three weeks after Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) No. 250 issued its recommendations on the stalled contract negotiations between 12 rail labor unions and the carriers, the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers, SEIU (NCFO) has reached a tentative agreement with the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC), which represents most major railroads (and many smaller ones) in national collective bargaining.
The tentative agreements implement the PEB’s recommendations, which include a 24% wage increase during the five-year period from 2020 through 2024—with a 14.1% wage increase effective immediately—and five annual $1,000 lump sum payments. Portions of the wage increases and lump sum payments are retroactive and “will be paid out promptly upon ratification of the agreements by the unions’ membership,” NCCC reported on Sept. 13.
The 12* labor organizations at the bargaining table represent 125,000 unionized workers affected by the negotiations. In addition to NCFO, the following have also inked tentative agreements with NCCC: the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division (BMWED); International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB); International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers-Mechanical Department (SMART-MD); American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA); International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM); International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); and the Transportation Communications Union (TCU, including its allied Brotherhood Railway Carmen).
Under the Railway Labor Act, the carriers and the unions that have not reached agreements remain in a “cooling off” period, according to NCCC, which noted that “[v]oluntary settlements with all unions would avert any potential disruptions to rail service after the cooling off period ends at 12:01 a.m. on September 16.”
“The NCCC would like to thank the union’s leadership team for their professionalism and efforts during the bargaining process,” the Committee said on Sept. 13. “It is critical that the remaining unions promptly reach agreements that provide pay increases to employees and prevent rail service disruptions. The carriers are in active discussions with the remaining unions about finalizing agreements based on the PEB’s recommendation. However, the two operating craft unions, BLET [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen] and SMART-TD [the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers], continue to maintain positions that were expressly rejected by the PEB.”
SMART-TD, with 37,400 affected members, and BLET, with 24,700 affected members, are the two largest unions at the bargaining table.
* The 12 rail unions bargaining with carriers are: the American Train Dispatchers Association; Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen; Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes; Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen; International Association of Machinists; International Brotherhood of Boilermakers; Mechanical Division of International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART); National Conference of Firemen & Oilers; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Transport Workers; Transportation Communications Union (including Brotherhood Railway Carmen); and Transportation Division of SMART (including Railroad Yardmasters of America).
Class I carriers represented at the bargaining table by the National Carriers Conference Committee (NCCC) are BNSF; Canadian National; CSX (although it is negotiating wages and work rules separately with SMART-TD and BLET); Kansas City Southern; Norfolk Southern; and Union Pacific. Canadian Pacific is negotiating separately with all its unions. Many smaller railroads also are represented by NCCC.