Railroads and Unions Are Making Sick Deals

Last December, when the government stepped in and forced a new labor agreement between the railroads and rail workers, a concern of workers was left unanswered. The very concern that almost drew negotiations to the point of nationwide rail strikes and lockouts.

Sick leave was left on the bargaining table after December’s agreement. Rail workers, represented by several unions, felt defeated. Despite receiving competitive PTO packages, workers believe sick leave is the only way to ensure they can take time off in case of a sudden emergency without fear of being reprimanded.

Once the curtain fell on the nearly three-year long contract talks, many workers felt the same fell on the window of opportunity to achieve sick leave benefits.

However, with the industry two months removed from the original agreement, more and more railroads have reached sick leave agreements with unions signaling peace of mind for many of their employees.

CSX reaches sick leave agreement for mechanics and carmen

Earlier in the month, railroad CSX reached sick leave agreements with divisions of two key rail unions.

Roadway mechanics (apart of the IAM union) and carmen (apart of the BRC union) are set to receive sick leave benefits after the parent organizations of these unions reached an agreement with CSX.

The freight railroad, who also reached agreements on sick leave with four other unions beforehand, remarked it was “building momentum towards finding solutions that improve the work experience of [CSX] employees”.

Two unions secure sick leave with UP, effective April 1

Another major railroad, Union Pacific, reached six leave agreements with two unions, the other weekend. The National Conference of Firemen and Oilers (NCFO) and the aforementioned BRC union.

UP announced the sick leave benefits will be effective April 1 (hopefully it’s not an April Fools joke) and calls for the two unions to receive access to up to seven paid sick days to use. Like CSX, the railroad reassured stakeholders of its commitment to address employee concerns.

Workers have flexibility with the new benefits as they can use paid sick time in half-day or one-day increments.

The unions applauded UP for going back to the bargaining table and reaching an agreement.

3,000 track maintenance workers with NS in line for sick leave benefits

As of most recent, railroad Norfolk Southern reached a sick leave agreement for workers apart of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way-Employes Division (BMWED) last Wednesday.

Around 3,000 track maintenance workers with NS are expected to receive these newfound benefits. These employees, under BMWED membership, can use up to seven paid sick days per year.

NS released a statement owing its success to the labor its maintenance workers perform every day. Likewise to the other railroads, NS verbally committed its desire to improve employee quality-of-life while also staying on good terms with union leaders.

Final Thoughts

While we are not dismissing any genuine intention to improve their employee quality-of-life, the railroads have also been facing mounting pressures from regulatory bodies, like the transportation department, to adopt sick leave policies for all of their employees.

Transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg pushed this message further when laying out broader recommendations for the rail industry.

Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this topic or any others in domestic logistics. In addition, stay up to date with weekly headlines from both trucking and rail via our Road Map newsletter.

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