Rail unions refuse advance payments in favor of new agreement
OMAHA, Neb. – All major railroads now plan to offer their employees up to $600 a month ahead of the increases they plan to pay once the ongoing two-year-old national contract negotiations are finally settled.
But a coalition of unions that represents more than 105,000 rail workers said on Monday it would withhold the payments in part because workers would be required to pay back some of the money if any increases aren’t big enough to cover the payments. . The unions instead want the National Carriers Conference Committee, which represents more than 30 railroads, to negotiate a contract.
“This latest proposal, somewhere between a loan and a payday advance, is just further evidence that the NCCC has no intention of reaching a voluntary settlement anytime soon,” the unions said in a statement. communicated. “You don’t offer temporary proposals if you plan to offer full contract settlement.”
The group which represents the railways said it would keep its offer on the table as it would quickly put cash in the pockets of workers at a time of soaring inflation while other issues are being ironed out at the negotiating table. The railways said the pandemic has made progress in negotiations difficult as few face-to-face meetings have taken place.
“Railroad employees work hard and deserve pay increases that keep them among the highest paid employees in the country,” the railroads said in a statement. “The railways want to reach new national agreements with the labor organizations providing these increases, but the issues at the national bargaining table are complex and there is still work to be done before comprehensive agreements can be finalized.
The railroads all announced their proposed payout on Friday days after CSX announced it had offered those payouts to its unions. CSX and Union Pacific executives said when announcing their earnings last week that a package deal with the unions was likely still a long way off.
Union Pacific and CSX both reported a 22% increase in revenue as railroads were able to raise fares and collect more fuel surcharges even as they struggled to clear congestion on their rail networks, which delayed deliveries to customers.
Contract talks remain mired in mediation as the railways pursue unpopular proposals to cut rail crews from two to one in certain circumstances. Unions are also unwilling to make major concessions in labor rules after seeing nearly a third of all rail jobs cut in the past six years as major freight railways overhauled their operations.
Unions have also complained that BNSF and Union Pacific have imposed tough new attendance rules over the past two years without negotiating them, making it difficult for workers to take days off.