The group representing rail unions in bargaining with railroad over a new general agreement says the negotiations have reached an impasse, leading them to file for arbitration.
A brief letter today (Thursday, Jan. 20) from Jeremy R. Ferguson, president of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers-Transportation Division (SMART-TD) informed other union officials of the development. It says the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition will file for arbitration next week.
Negotiations began in February 2020 between the railroads and union coalition, which represents the American Train Dispatchers Association, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, International Association of Machinists, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, National Conference of Firemen & Oilers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Transport Workers Union of America, Transportation Communications Union and SMART-TD. The industry group, the National Carriers’ Conference Committee, represents BNSF Railway, CSX Transportation, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, and the U.S. railroads owned by by Canadian National.
Negotiations are held every five years and can continue as long as both sides believe progress is being made.
Crew size is a key factor in the negotiations. Before negotiations opened, railroads called for conductors to be taken off of trains to become a “ground-based” position [see “Nationwide railroad labor talks start …,” Trains News Wire, Jan. 15, 2020]. And the subject sparked a lawsuit in which SMART-TD sued the National Mediation Board after that government agency appointed an arbitrator to address the issue [see “Railroads, unions butt heads on crew size …,”News Wire, Jan. 31, 2020].