Large US rail union rejects deal

The U.S.'s third largest railroad union rejected a deal with employers Monday, renewing the possibility of a strike that could cripple the economy. Both sides will return to the bargaining table before that happens.

Over half of track maintenance workers represented by the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division who voted opposed the five-year contract despite 24 percent raises and $5,000 in bonuses. Union President Tony Cardwell said the railroads didn't do enough to address the lack of paid time off, particularly sick time, and working conditions after the major railroads eliminated nearly one-third of their jobs over the past six years.

"Railroaders are discouraged and upset with working conditions and compensation and hold their employer in low regard.

Railroaders do not feel valued," Cardwell said in a statement. "They resent the fact that management holds no regard for their quality of life, illustrated by their stubborn reluctance to provide a higher quantity of paid time off, especially for sickness."

The group that represents the railroads in negotiations said they were disappointed the union rejected the agreement, but emphasized that no immediate threat of a strike exists because the union agreed to keep working for now.

Four other railroad unions have approved their agreements with freight railroads including BNSF, Union Pacific, Kansas City Southern, CSX and Norfolk Southern, but all 12 unions representing 115,000 workers must ratify their contracts to prevent a strike. Another union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, initially rejected its deal but has since renegotiated a new contract. Voting will be completed in mid-November.

 

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