In a precedent-setting move for the railroad industry, CSX on Feb. 7 reached agreements with the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED) and the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen (BRC) for paid sick leave, on Feb. 10 added the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) and National Conference of Firemen and Oilers (NCFO), and on Feb. 14 added the IAM Roadway Mechanics division and the BRC Carmen for Fruit Growers Express Company division. The eight remaining unions, it is believed, will eventually accept the agreement.
The BMWED and BRC collectively represent approximately 5,000 CSX railroad workers (nearly 4,000 BMWED and more than 1,000 BRC). The IAM‘s District 19 represents approximately 500 railroad machinists; the NCFO represents approximately 500 utility workers.
“The company has great respect for the work performed by its front-line employees to provide safe, reliable rail service for the nation, and will continue to pursue similar agreements with its remaining unions,” CSX said.
Retroactive to Jan. 1, 2023 and continuing each year thereafter, every member-employee of the four unions that signed the agreement will be provided with 4 paid sick days on an annual basis, based on a 100% rate of pay, with the ability to also take up to 3 paid personal leave days per year for paid sick time off. The agreement, which is specific to CSX and separate from the national agreement finalized late last year, also provides the option for employees to contribute unused paid sick leave to their 401(k) or receive a payout of unused paid sick leave, each year.
The agreements were brokered by CSX President and CEO Joe Hinrichs, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Jamie Boychuck, and the railroad’s Labor Relations team led by Jeff Wall, Vice President. “CSX is committed to listening to our railroaders and working with their representatives to find solutions that improve their quality of life and experience as employees,” said Hinrichs. “These agreements demonstrate that commitment, and are a direct result of the collaborative relationship we are working to cultivate with all of the unions that represent CSX employees. We greatly appreciate the leadership of the BMWED and BRC in working toward these agreements.”
“The paid personal leave comes voluntarily from CSX, without the demand of any concessions from the union,” BMWED President Tony D. Cardwell said. “I want to personally thank Joe Hinrichs and Jamie Boychuk. Joe gave me his word that he would bring about changes to the industry that are necessary to begin repairing the dysfunctional relationship between the railroads and the workers. I applaud Joe for delivering on his word and entering into this historic agreement with BMWED. He is doing the right thing, and I look forward to working with Joe on other matters that are critical to maintenance-of-way employees … There is no reason why the other Class I railroads cannot enter into an identical paid sick leave agreement with BMWED, or any other rail union for that matter … I strongly encourage the other Class I railroads to follow the tracks that CSX CEO Joe Hinrichs has laid.”
“We are extremely proud that BRC is one of the very first unions to reach this type of an agreement,” said BRC General President Don Grissom. “This agreement is a significant accomplishment and provides a very important benefit for our members working at CSX. The other carriers should take note and come to the bargaining table in a similar manner.”
“This is going to make a huge difference in the lives of IAM District 19 Mechanical Employees at CSX,” said IAM District 19 Assistant Directing General Chair Andrew Sandberg. “Our members will be able to rest easier at night knowing their union has won this for themselves and their families.”
The groundbreaking agreement’s backstory starts soon after national agreements were finalized in December. Boychuck on Feb. 8 told Railway Age that he, Hinrichs and Wall, during national negotiations in Washington D.C., “felt strongly that CSX’s labor groups really wanted a local-level discussion, which isn’t easy to do under those circumstances.” Once national negotiations concluded, they began talks with Cardwell and Grissom, “who expressed full confidence in us and gave their support. We were determined to find a way to provide some level of paid sick leave, to show that the company is here to take care of its employees. Our field employees are the face of who CSX is, and if they’re satisfied, it translates directly into good customer service.”
Boychuck’s signature is on each contract, “and my heart is in my signature,” he said, following the BMWED/BRC announcement. “I came through the ranks, starting as an operating employee, so I’ve been there. Now that we’ve forged this agreement, our other unions are reaching out to us. This has never been done before in the rail industry, and it comes about largely because Joe, based on his years with Ford, knows what it takes, and understands operations.” Hinrichs and Boychuck spend a lot of time in the field, meeting with employees at all levels, asking them what they need, soliciting their advice.
“This agreement is reflective of the more modernist industrial thinking of Joe Hinrichs,” observes Railway Age Capitol Hill Contributing Editor Frank N. Wilner, a former labor official. “The door has been cracked open. Repairing relationships with customers and employees represents a new beginning for the rail industry. A new dawn is approaching for shipper relations. Those railroads that ignore this trend are risking failure. What’s happening here feels much like when Norfolk Southern chief executive Alan Shaw cites the motto of his alma mater, Virginia Tech: Ut Prosim — That I May Serve.”
The BMWED Agreement in Full
AGREEMENT BETWEEN CSX TRANSPORTATION, INC. AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF MAINTENANCE OF WAY EMPLOYES DIVISION OF THE INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS PROVIDING PAID TIME OFF FOR ILLNESS AND WELLNESS
This Agreement is made by and between CSX Transportation, Inc. (CSXT or the Carrier) and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (BMWED) as representative of the CSXT employees in the Maintenance of Way craft or class (Employees) pursuant to the Railway Labor Act, as amended, 45 U.S.C. § 151 et seq.
Effective January 1, 2023 and continuing on an annual calendar year basis each year thereafter, each Employee shall be provided four (4) days of paid sick time off (hereinafter referred to as “paid sick time” or “paid sick leave”) to be used for absences related to or resulting from physical illness, mental illness, off-duty injury, doctor and dental appointments, or medical conditions.
In addition to the annual paid sick time, each Employee who meets the qualifying vacation requirements of Article X of the December 11, 1981 National Agreement and the qualifying paid personal leave requirements of Article IV of the December 2, 2022 Imposed National Agreement, shall be permitted to annually convert and utilize up to a maximum of three (3) paid personal leave days per year as paid sick time off. Employees that convert and utilize paid personal leave days as paid sick time off will be subject to the reporting requirements of this agreement as described below. There will be no duplication of payment for the utilization of paid personal leave days converted to and used for paid sick leave.
Each Employee shall be permitted to use paid sick time in a minimum one (1) day increments. All paid sick time shall be paid at the respective straight time hourly rate of pay of the position currently held by the Employee. If the Employee is unassigned at the time of use of paid sick time, the paid sick time off shall be paid at the respective straight time hourly rate of pay of the last position the Employee worked and was compensated.
Employees must report to their appropriate available ranking personnel (e.g., Supervisor, Craft Foreman Employee, etc.) their use of paid sick time at the time of mark-off, or if that is not possible then as soon as practicable, in all instances where the use of paid sick leave was not foreseeable. However, an Employee’s request must be made at least seven (7) calendar days in advance of the use of paid sick leave, when the need for such paid sick leave is foreseeable (e.g., a doctor’s appointment or procedure that is scheduled at least seven (7) days in advanced of the absence). Reporting shall be made by the Employee orally (e.g., via telephone) or in writing (e.g., email or text message), except for instances of the Employee’s physical incapacity or other emergent conditions that do not permit the timely reporting. Requests to use paid sick time will be granted subject to certain conditions described in the paragraph below, and such granting will be communicated by the carrier to the Employee either verbally or in writing (e.g., via email or text message) as soon as is practicable.
The carrier may require an Employee to provide a note from a healthcare provider to document the need of paid sick leave. The Carrier will not require an Employee to complete a return-to-work medical examination before allowing an Employee to return to duty from paid sick leave of six (6) consecutive workdays or less in a single occurrence, unless the nature of the medical condition would reasonably warrant such procedure.
Unused paid sick time may be contributed by the Employee to his/her 401(k) account or will be paid out at the end of each calendar year at the Employee’s straight time hourly rate of the position currently held by the Employee. In the event of the death of the Employee, payment of all unused accumulated paid sick time will be issued: to the Employee’s surviving spouse, if any; or the Employee’s surviving children if there is no surviving spouse; or the Employee’s estate if there are no surviving children. If the Employee is unassigned at the time of use of, the paid time off shall be paid at the respective straight time hourly rate of pay of the last position the Employee worked and was compensated.
Paid sick time absences will be handled in accordance with the Company’s attendance policy in effect at the time of the absence. Employees who are dismissed or suspended from service but whose discipline is subsequently removed or overturned through arbitration, voluntary settlement, or other means, shall receive pay for paid sick time lost, to the extent applicable. The Employee shall also qualify for and be credited for accrued paid sick time to be used in the current year that the Employee would have otherwise received if not for such improper discipline, to the extent applicable.
The provisions of the paid sick time have no effect on and in no way alter collective bargaining agreement terms regarding paid time off and the application thereof for the Employees, including but not limited to the use of paid vacation (National Vacation Agreement and the subsequent amendments thereto), paid personal leave days when not converted and utilized as paid sick leave, paid holidays (National Holiday Agreement and the subsequent amendments thereto), or the Family and Medical and Leave Act (FMLA) and any other laws applicable to the carrier. An Employee shall not be required to first exhaust paid sick leave before using FMLA time off. Short term disability benefits, such as supplemental sickness benefits and off-track vehicle benefits provided through a collective bargaining agreement or disability and job protection benefits that are voluntary and paid for solely by the Employee (e.g., Aflac), Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (RUIA) sickness and unemployment benefits, do not count towards the required leave that must be provided under the provisions of this Agreement. The provisions of the paid sick time have no effect on and in no way alter RUIA or supplemental sickness benefits.