Although six of 12 rail labor unions have ratified amendments to contracts setting wages, benefits and work rules on most Class I railroads and many smaller ones, two unions—the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS) and Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division of the Teamsters Union (BMWED)—have rejected the tentative deal, creating a likelihood of a nationwide rail work stoppage as early as November 19.
The rail unions comprising the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition (CBC) involved in the current round of national negotiations on Jan. 22 issued a statement that the carriers “have not made any proposals worthy of consideration by [our] membership” as COVID-19-impacted meetings continue.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt presiding, on Aug. 28 issued its decision in BNSF et al v. SMART-TD (Case No. 20-10162) concerning crew consist size, vacating an injunction that forced Sheet Metal, Air, Rail Workers-Transportation Division (SMART-TD) General Committees to bargain over crew consist size and redeployment, despite the existence of moratoria that bar such negotiation. The National Railway Labor Conference (NRLC), which represents the carriers, while acknowledging the court’s decision, countered that the union’s objections are subject to arbitration, and as such bolster the railroads’ efforts to negotiate over crew size. One industry observer, who has been on both sides of the bargaining table, says SMART-TD leadership is not acting in the best interests of the membership they represent.
In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) issued Jan. 31, the Republican majority on the National Mediation Board seeks to create a “straightforward election process” to decertify union representation on airlines and railroads whose labor relations are governed by the Railway Labor Act (RLA).
The incoming National Railway Labor Conference (NRLC) Chairman is Brendan M. Branon (inset), who was most recently Managing Director-Labor and Employee Relations at Delta Air Lines, the principal negotiator, attorney and company spokesman with the company’s domestic labor unions.
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.