A National Railway Labor Conference arbitration board ruled May 23 that the pattern health care terms adopted by the freight railroads and nine of the unions in national bargaining should also apply to the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes (BMWE) and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) – Mechanical Division.
As ascendancy of jaw-jaw over war-war is making even a partial national rail work stoppage less probable, an agreement this week between the freight railroads and their second largest labor union has further decreased such concern.
Represented by the National Carriers’ Conference Committee, the major U.S. railroads late Thursday reached tentative agreements with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the American Train Dispatchers Association, which together represent about 26,500 employees in collective bargaining. The last remaining union without a settlement, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes (BMWE), agreed with the railroads to extend the “cooling off” period until Feb. 8, 2012, eliminating the immediate threat of a national rail strike, which could have occurred as soon as Dec. 6.
The nation’s freight railroads have reached settlements with 10 of the 13 major rail unions covering more than 60% of 132,000 employees in the current round of bargaining, but a potential strike