If tentative wages, benefits and work rules agreements reached between rail labor unions and most Class I railroads (and many smaller ones) fail to be ratified by union members in coming weeks, might leadership of those unions override a majority “no” vote and unilaterally impose the tentative agreement or, alternatively, submit it to binding arbitration rather than pursue further collective bargaining or authorize a strike?
National Mediation Board
Increasingly likely on Sept. 16, or shortly thereafter, is a rail labor strike or management lockout creating a nationwide rail shutdown that almost certainly will elicit from Congress back-to-work legislation and third-party determination of wage, benefits and work rules amendments to end this almost 33-month-old round of collective bargaining.
In a final effort to avoid a nationwide rail shutdown as early as Sept. 16, the National Mediation Board (NMB) has ordered railroad negotiators and the leadership of unions still at the bargaining table to return to Washington, D.C., Sept. 7 for an NMB-guided try at reaching tentative agreements on amending wage, benefits and work rules contracts.
Razors cut two ways, as is evident among Wall Street analysts who encourage share-price haircuts for railroads not lowering operating ratios, but themselves fear from railroads a different sort of trimming—loss of access to senior officers and financial data should these analysts have the audacity to suggest the likelihood of a nationwide rail shutdown.
Nearly 100% of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen members have voted in support of a nationwide strike, which BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce is calling “a showing of solidarity and unity.”
The heated rhetoric surrounding the impasse that national rail labor contract negotiations appears to have reached—and the threat of a strike leading to an economy-crippling rail network shutdown—shows little signs of cooling down.
It is more than two years since the rail industry’s 12 labor unions and management (representing most Class I railroads and some smaller ones) commenced bargaining to amend contracts defining wages, benefits and work rules.
Preparations are under way for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) to poll members, who the union stresses “have been without a contract raise for nearly three years,” to authorize
It may be the “snooker” of this century, and there’s not much railroads can do about it so long as Democrats control both chambers of Congress.
The National Mediation Board (NMB) on June 14 set in motion a ticking time bomb toward an economy-jolting national railroad shutdown within 90 days, its two Democratic members agreeing with rail labor—and over the remonstrance of carriers and the NMB’s lone Republican—that a voluntary agreement to amend unionized rail worker wages, benefits and work rules is not within reach.