NS, SMART-TD Pause Conductor Redeployment BargainingWritten by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
Norfolk Southern (NS) and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers-Transportation Division (SMART-TD) on March 23 reported that they are discontinuing formal negotiations regarding conductor redeployment to focus their efforts on implementing other “immediate quality-of-life improvements” for employees.
“Over the next year, SMART-TD and Norfolk Southern have the opportunity to work together to implement important predictability improvements for our conductor workforce,” SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson said. “These scheduling enhancements, which were part of last year’s national agreements, have the potential to make an immediate positive impact for our conductors by giving them fixed days off and greater certainty about their weekly assignments. The willingness of NS to step back from plans to change to a ground-based conductor model is a welcome show of good faith in the negotiation process.”
Under the terms of the national agreements, the railroad and the union reported that they have a mid-June deadline to negotiate the details of these scheduling enhancements. Given this limited window, they said, NS has withdrawn its current Section 6 bargaining notice (download below) on conductor redeployment “to fully focus on collaboratively implementing these enhancements and other quality-of-life priorities.”
According to NS and SMART-TD, the withdrawal of the Section 6 notice on conductor redeployment “removes the mandatory requirement for the parties to bargain over the issue, though voluntary discussions remain an option.” They noted that they will rely on NS employee input “to guide the focus of their joint efforts and discussions going forward.”
“Norfolk Southern is committed to working with labor partners, including SMART-TD, to identify and negotiate benefits that will have a meaningful impact on our employees’ quality of life,” NS Vice President, Labor Relations Wai Wong said. “While redeployment of conductors to ground-based shift-work will provide more predictable jobs and minimize time away from home, there are a number of other priorities that our labor partners would like to address, and we are committed to working together to make immediate progress.”