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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Labor, railroads far apart on contract proposals presented to Presidential Emergency Board (updated)

Labor, railroads far apart on contract proposals presented to Presidential Emergency Board (updated)

By | July 25, 2022

Unions release details of proposals presented to board as hearings begin

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Logos of 12 unions
Logos of 12 unions
The United Rail Unions have released contract offers from labor and railroads presented to the Presidential Emergency Board.

WASHINGTON — A significant gulf between the two sides on pay and medical benefits defines proposals presented by rail labor unions and railroads as the Presidential Emergency Board addressing the contract dispute begins its work.

The board began a week of hearings on Sunday afternoon. The three-person board was appointed by President Joe Biden earlier this month [see “Biden names members of emergency board …,” Trains News Wire, July 18, 2022].

Unions are seeking a contract which would include a 31.2% wage increase, when compounded, over the five-year life of a new contract that would be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2020. Railroads want a deal with a 17% compounded increase over the same term, according to the United Rail Unions, part of the coalition representing labor groups in the bargaining. The railroads offer includes annual increases of 2% or 3%, except for a 6% increase in 2022, while the unions’ proposal includes increases of 6% in 2020 and 2021, 8% in 2022, and 4% in each of the final two years.

The unions are also seeking the status quo in employee healthcare costs — with a monthly cost of $228.89 — with increases in autism and hearing benefits. The railroads’ proposal would increase monthly costs to an estimated $321, with significant increases in deductibles, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket maximums for individuals and families.

The union proposal also includes 15 days of paid sick leave and three new holidays— Veteran’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and Juneteenth — while the railroads’ plan includes one additional paid day off “in a manner to be determined by each individual carrier and labor organization.”

The full proposal from unions is available here, with the railroads’ proposal available here.

The emergency board’s hearings are slated to continue through Thursday, July 28, with Friday reserved for meetings between the two sides and the board. The board will issue its recommendations on or before Aug. 15, which will trigger a second 30-day cooling off period.

Jeremy R. Ferguson, president of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers-Transportation Division, told members of his union in a Friday statement that unions “anticipate a fair and thorough series of hearings.” He said labor and the railroads will not provide updates once the hearings begin “out of mutual respect for the process.”

— Revised at 7:30 a.m. to include details of proposals from unions and railroads.

10 thoughts on “Labor, railroads far apart on contract proposals presented to Presidential Emergency Board (updated)

  1. Given the Biden Administration’s pro-labor stance, it will be interesting to see how they will respond to the PEB recommendations (and “which way the winds blow” on the day the PEB findings are released …)

  2. 31.2% compounded increase in salaries…are the unions out of their minds, even the 17% offered by the railroads is way above the average increase for the rest of the workforce. They should pay a little more for medical coverage and the approximately $100 month increase is reasonable, they really should look at other industries to see the current status with benefits and pay.

    1. Do the Math, a $100 per month increase in after tax cost is really a 130 to 150 depending on where the worker lives. And then compare that with a 3% averaged pay increase. The cost to the very profitable railroads is negative in their proposal.

    2. Gerald you are very good at deciding what others’ jobs are worth. Coming from someone who doesn’t do the job, and has no idea what it entails , your opinion means less than nothing. Go back taking pictures of trains and crossing your fingers that the crew will wave at you.

      As far as healthcare goes, your reading comprehension is terrible. First of all why should we pay more? Second it’s not just a monthly increase, it’s an increase in deductibles and out-of-pocket. Again you are very good at spending others money.

  3. What unreasonable about it? Why would the unions be out of their mind? I’ll tell you this if the unions don’t get something close to that you wanna see an industry implode from the inside,just watch what happens. Hundreds if not thousands are just waiting to see what the outcome of this is going to be before they make their decisions to leave this industry all together. I know firsthand in my neck of the railroad world that I work for I’d say 30 guys in a terminal of around 200 are on the fence. This industry and the governments as well as the people they’ve been convincing for at least 40 years that railroad operating crafts are overpaid are finally getting a wake up call that they can no longer expect people to do what they require of them for the pay they offer plain and simple. The world is changing and so are the people in it. My generation is small in numbers and the ones coming up that are protesting the loudest are getting bigger by the day. So tell me mr McFarland what would be a solution to a workforce that demands( not just the railroads mind you) a more equitable share of their work and time In wages compared to corporate income. Mind you one of biggest sticking point is availability policies that also don’t mesh with the lifestyles of todays upcoming generations . Let’s hear how the railroad would recruit future employees from your standpoint taking into considerations that I just stated. So no the unions are far from out of their minds thank you very much. What you or the people like you don’t understand is what’s driving this push are younger people in this workforce not older generations that would really just roll over and take it. These kids aren’t doing that, they’re demanding equity plain and simple and they’ll get it because they have plenty of choices but the railroads don’t. They need people to run their railroads and not paying them what they want or giving them equitable time off to spend with their families will not fill the ranks to run those trains. So in short no they’re not crazy or out of their mind as you say they’re just a younger generation wanting more of their lives.

  4. I agree with what Eric says. The world is changing and railroad management is not doing very well adjusting. Though I must say paying $100 more per month for medical is not too much to ask. I left the industry after 26+ years. Many in my shoes are staying just to get the full retirement and the feeling is of finishing out a prison sentence.

  5. Railroads are not other industries. I put in a few years on the RR. Back then the money was called “misery pay” for the odd hours. As for reduced crews on some trains, management should be reduced as well.. Any idiot can cut the workforce to the bone.

  6. Granted, I’ve been gone from the railroad for 40 years next month. However, these same issues were around 40 years ago, although the pay was a little bit better then and there were more people willing to put up with miserable hours and time away from families back then.

    Management needs to wake up and smell the coffee, as the old days are gone. They need to figure out how to run a railroad that provides two things: better service to the customers, something at which they generally suck; better hours and conditions for their workforce. This may be their wakeup call but I suspect most of them will try to stay asleep.

  7. Rail labor is being pushe beyond most persons limits. We might have a non union wild cat strike.

  8. I think the PEB will make a recommendation that splits the carrier and union offers down the middle. I hope its a leadt that much…the carrier’s offer won’t keep us ahead of inflation if inflation keeps up its pace. The union offer might I say might keep us on an even keel but that is also just a hope.

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