BNSF, NS Reach Labor Agreements

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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BNSF on April 17 announced that it will grant individual paid sick days to its railroaders who are Brotherhood of Railway Carmen (BRC) members. The same day, Norfolk Southern (NS) reported reaching a paid sick leave agreement with the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS).

At BNSF, BRC members will receive an additional four paid days off to use as sick days and gain the ability to convert up to three personal leave days to sick days each year, according to the Class I, which noted that “specific details regarding these new sick days will be provided to affected team members.” The move builds on existing BNSF paid time off and sickness benefits.

BNSF reported that it “remains committed to continued dialogue including the potential addition of paid sick days for those crafts that did not already have individual paid sick days prior to the recent national bargaining round.”

In related developments, BNSF on March 17 reported reaching an agreement with the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB) for paid sick leave. This follows the Class I’s Feb. 23 announcement that it would grant individual paid sick days to its railroaders who are members of the Transportation Communications Union (TCU) and the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers (NCFO); and the March 9 announcement that it would provide sick leave to its railroaders who are members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), the BRS, and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers-Mechanical and Engineering Department (SMART-MD).

At NS, approximately 900 signal employees who are BRS members will receive four new days of paid sick leave per year, with the flexibility to use up to three additional days of existing paid time off as sick leave, the railroad reported.

In total, 10 of NS’s 12 unions now have access to paid sick leave, benefitting approximately 6,900 of its craft railroaders. This includes the BRS, the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers and Blacksmiths; the IAM; the BRC; SMART-MD; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); the NCFO; and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees (BMWED). According to NS, two other unions, the American Train Dispatchers Association and the TCU, also have access to paid sick leave benefits from prior negotiations.

“We continue to build on the significant progress we’ve made with our unions to provide additional sick leave benefits to our craft railroaders,” NS President and CEO Alan Shaw said. “Our railroaders are essential to advancing the American economy, and we are committed to listening to them and developing solutions to continuously improve their quality of life.”


H.J. Res. 100, the House- and Senate-passed resolution that President Joe Biden signed into law on Dec. 2, 2022, imposed the Tentative Agreement resulting from President Emergency Board 250; it did not include paid sick leave.

While the House on Nov. 30, 2022, passed two resolutions (H.J. Res. 100 and H.Con. Res. 119) to impose on four holdout rail unions the Tentative Agreement accepted by eight others, and to amend that Tentative Agreement to include seven days of paid sick leave (that unions couldn’t gain in collective bargaining), the Senate on Dec. 1, 2022 agreed only to impose the Tentative Agreement.

In a precedent-setting move for the railroad industry, CSX on Feb. 7 reached agreements with the BMWED and the BRC for paid sick leave; on Feb. 10, it added the IAM and NCFO; and on Feb. 14, it added the IAM Roadway Mechanics division and the BRC Carmen for Fruit Growers Express Company division. On April 7, the railroad reached an agreement with the SMART-MD to provide paid sick leave benefits. Additionally, CSX reached a tentative agreement the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers-Transportation Division B&O (SMART-TD B&O) union to provide the Class I’s trainmen and conductors with sick leave benefits.

Union Pacific (UP) on Feb. 20 followed suit, announcing agreements with the NCFO and BRC; it added on April 1 the IAM, IBEW, IBB, SMART-MD, International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers, and BMWED

CN on March 3 reported reaching agreements with the IAM, NCFO, SMART-MD and IBB in the U.S.

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