Ratified: UP, SMART-TD Paid Sick Leave Deal (UPDATED)

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
(Union Pacific Photograph, via Twitter)

(Union Pacific Photograph, via Twitter)

Union Pacific (UP) on Aug. 2 reported ratifying an agreement with the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART-TD) to provide up to eight paid sick leave days to the approximately 5,900 union members it employs.

SMART-TD on Aug. 4 reported that the agreement, ratified by more than 96% of union members in favor, includes:

  • “Five paid sick days to all employees actively working in road and yard service, including Hostler/Hostler Helpers and Firemen in Training. Paid sick days can be taken at any time and cannot be denied.
  • “In lieu of the restricted medical days provided to employees in unassigned service only in Side Letter #3 of Public Law No. 117-216, all employees, regardless of class of service that is represented by SMART TD, will have the ability to convert three single vacation days to paid sick days to be taken on demand, any day of the week that cannot be denied.
  • “The Additional Day provided in Public Law No. 117-216 can now be taken on demand, any day of the week, without restriction unless it falls on the following holidays: July 4, Thanksgiving, Day After Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
  • “Creates a process for banking of up to sixty days of any unused Personal Leave Days, Paid Sick Days, and the Additional Day. This includes the ability to cash out or utilize any or all banked days.”

Union Pacific now has paid sick leave agreements in place with all 13 of its labor unions. “We are proud to be the second railroad in the industry to reach this milestone,” UP said in an Aug. 2 LinkedIn post. Norfolk Southern reached it June 5. Also on June 5, UP announced its agreement with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) to provide up to seven paid sick leave days to the approximately 5,600 locomotive engineers employed by the railroad.

“This is a great day for our members as this agreement is all inclusive to all members and can be used for not only themselves but also in their families’ illnesses as well,”  said Alt. Vice President and General Chairperson (GO-927) Scott Chelette, who along with Alt. Vice President and General Chairperson Gary Crest (GO-887); General Chairperson Joey Cornelius (GO-569); General Chairperson Roy Davis (GO-577); and General Chairperson Luke Edington (GO-953) helped reached the agreement on July 10. “The ability to bank unused days for future use in case they are needed or having a cash out option is a huge benefit.”

“This agreement is not only great for our members it’s great for our industry,” said Gary Crest. “This is the start of us working on real quality of life issues for our membership. We look forward to delivering more victories like this in the coming years.” 

“I want to thank SMART-TD leadership for their support as we work together to create an environment where employees feel valued, supported and empowered to deliver exceptional service to our customers,” UP Chairman, President and CEO Lance Fritz said when the tentative agreement was inked July 9. “We are committed to continued collaboration with our labor partners and employees to further identify opportunities that support our best-in-class workforce.”

UP and SMART-TD “look forward to continuing discussions on scheduled rest, which will allow employees to have more predictable schedules and enable the railroad to better manage staffing levels,” according to the Class I railroad. General 953, part of SMART-TD, on May 31 reported ratifying a crew-consist agreement, maintaining two-person crews. Additionally, the six BLET General Chairmen on June 29 announced that 90% of the union’s divisions representing locomotive engineers on UP have ratified a deal with the Class I that “enhances the quality of life for those locomotive engineers and their families by making it possible for them to have more predictable schedules.”


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.

Further Reading:

UP: Paid Sick Leave Added for Six Unions

UP: Paid Sick Leave for NCFO, BRC

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