BNSF, TCU and NCFO Agreed to Paid Sick Leave

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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BNSF on Feb. 23 reported reaching agreements with the Transportation Communications Union (TCU) and the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers (NCFO) for paid sick leave. It is the fourth Class I to offer the benefit to craft railroaders.

In a precedent-setting move for the railroad industry, CSX on Feb. 7 reached agreements with the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division-International Brotherhood of Teamsters (BMWED) and Brotherhood of Railway Carmen (BRC) for paid sick leave; on Feb. 10, it added the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) andNCFO; and on Feb. 14, added the IAM Roadway Mechanics division and BRC Carmen for Fruit Growers Express Company division. The eight remaining unions, it is believed, will eventually accept the agreement.

Union Pacific (UP) on Feb. 20 and Norfolk Southern (NS) on Feb. 22 followed suit, announcing they had reached agreements with NCFO and BRC, and with BMWED, respectively.

Now, BNSF will grant individual paid sick days to its railroaders who are members of the TCU and NCFO. It noted that the TCU agreement applies to insourced intermodal equipment operators, “which represent a majority” of TCU members at BNSF; other TCU members already have paid sick days as part of their existing agreement.

“Building upon existing paid time off and sickness benefits, each TCU-represented insourced intermodal equipment operator and NCFO member will now 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 railroad.

NCFO President Dean Devita commented: “BNSF Rob Karov Vice President of Labor Relations, and Derek Cargill, General Director of Labor Relations, bargained in good faith with the NCFO, and we appreciate their professionalism and courage during the negotiations.” He added that “NCFO invites all unsigned railroads to join us at the bargaining table.”

“We hope these are the first of a series of new agreements across our other crafts who did not already have individual paid sick days prior to the recent national bargaining round*,” BNSF reported. “Today’s [Feb. 23] agreements are part of a collaborative effort aimed toward modernizing the work environment and addressing quality of life.” The railroad noted that while the national bargaining round is over, “BNSF has continued the dialogue and offered to engage in more tailored modernization efforts with all our unions, which includes potential paid sick days, and we are encouraged by the positive engagement.”


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.

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