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Machinists reject tentative contract deal and authorize a strike

By Bill Stephens | September 14, 2022

Union, first to reject tentative agreement, extends negotiating deadline to Sept. 29

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Locomotives sit outside Union Pacific’s shop at North Platte, Neb., in June 2018. (Bill Stephens)

WASHINGTON – Members of the union representing machinists have rejected the tentative agreement that union leaders had reached with the Class I railroads and have voted to authorize a strike.

Logo of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace WorkersThe International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) District 19 said today that its 4,900 members had voted to reject the deal that had been reached with the railroads’ negotiating arm, the National Carriers’ Conference Committee. The union did not provide a tally of how its members voted.

But the union said that a strike was not imminent once the Presidential Emergency Board cooling off period expires at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, meaning that its vote won’t trigger a nationwide walkout.

“Out of respect for other unions in the ratification process, an extension has been agreed to until Sept. 29, 2022, at 12 p.m. ET. This extension will allow us to continue to negotiate changes with the NCCC in the hopes of achieving an agreement our membership would ratify,” the union said in a statement.

IAM District 19 represents locomotive machinists, track equipment mechanics and facility maintenance personnel.

“IAM freight rail members are skilled professionals who have worked in difficult conditions through a pandemic to make sure essential products get to their destinations. We look forward to continuing that vital work with a fair contract that ensures our members and their families are treated with the respect they deserve for keeping America’s goods and resources moving through the pandemic,” the union said. “The IAM is grateful for the support of those working toward a solution as our members and freight rail workers seek equitable agreements.”

7 thoughts on “Machinists reject tentative contract deal and authorize a strike

  1. Yes, I think morale and apathy is lower today than in the 70’s when a lot of roads were going bankrupt. Only difference today is they are morally bankrupt with the way they treat their people.

  2. I would also say it is lower today than the 70’s. It’s sort of like comparing professional sports of today with that of yesteryear. The issues of today are different and more complex. Not only are the conditions different but so are the regulatory environment. Though it’s not stated much, technology is also causing problems.

  3. Yes I do believe the employee morale is lower now than in the 1970s, when some railroads were bankrupt.

    Back then there were enough people to do the work with a reasonable possibility of getting time off when it was needed.

  4. I agree with Gerald about the tough conditions. When I was a general locomotive foreman a machinist worked 8 hours a day and was home every night with their family. If this were train crews complaining I would have more sympathy.

  5. Does anyone here believe railroad employee morale is lower now than in the 1970s, when some railroads were bankrupt?

  6. Screw the pandemic bs, the railroads weren’t the only industry that worked through the pandemic, most did fine and most didn’t complain about it. Difficult conditions, ha, what a joke, the only thing that made it difficult was the people themselves. Railroaders had it far easier than say health care workers, the railroaders were in the same boat as OTR and airline employees(and related industries).

    1. Had you not noticed the tens of thousands of flight cancelations that affected millions of airline travelers this summer?

      The causes are very similar to the railroads. Tens of thousands of employees were initially paid for the first 6 months of the pandemic, then the industry laid them off. Experienced workers at all levels, pilots, flight attendants, ground crews, gate agents got tired of the abuse and working conditions and left the industry permanently.

      Railroads have similarly used the pandemic to cut tens of thousands of jobs, after cutting 30% of the workforce in the PSR implementation. They have abused their employees and they have had enough.

      Obviously Amtrak Joe caters to Wall Street and not the unions. A contract will be imposed by CON-gress and more thousands will quit the industry. This is what the greed of late stage capitalism looks like. It ain’t pretty and will result in lower living standards for everyone.

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