White House receives plan to end dispute over rail contract

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The special board appointed by President Joe Biden to intervene in the stalled rail contract talks presented its recommendations to the White House Tuesday on a possible deal covering 115,000 rail workers and prevent a strike, but details of their recommendations were not given. ‘t immediately available.

The railroads and the unions will use those recommendations as the basis for a new round of negotiations next month. If they still can’t agree on a new deal by mid-September, federal law would allow a strike or lockout, but Congress is likely to step in sooner to keep the supply chain moving.

A rail strike could devastate businesses that rely on Union Pacific, BNSF, Norfolk Southern, CSX and other major freight railroads to deliver raw materials and ship their products. That is why it is unlikely that Congress will allow a strike to occur. In previous national rail labor disputes, lawmakers voted to impose conditions on the railroads before workers could strike.

A White House official said Biden is optimistic the report will provide a good framework for successful negotiations because avoiding a rail closure is in the nation’s interest.

The report was distributed to parties on Tuesday, but the railways and unions did not immediately comment on any details. It was not immediately clear how quickly the National Mediation Board would post the report online.

The railway workers entered the process of the Emergency Presidential Board a month ago, far from the 12 unions that participate. The unions have been seeking a 31% raise over the five years of the deal, while the railroads were offering just 17% in compound raises. The unions also don’t want the cost of your health care coverage to go up too much in a new contract.

Railroad workers have not received a raise since 2019, while contract talks drug in. Workers are hoping to be compensated after staying on the job during the pandemic and enduring huge job cuts in recent years. And strikes have become more common in the last two years in a variety of industries because unions generally feel empowered to order more.

Major freight railroads have eliminated nearly a third of their jobs in the past six years as they overhauled their operations to run fewer, longer trains that need fewer locomotives and employees. Unions say railroads expect more from remaining workers, and some railroads toughened attendance policies make it harder to take time off because of all the job cuts.

In addition to disagreements over wages and benefits, unions have strongly opposed a proposal by the railroads to reduce the number of workers on a locomotive from two to one. a new proposed federal rule that would require two-man crews in most cases should make it difficult for railroads to reduce crew sizes, but the railroads have been pushing for change for several years. Unions argue that keeping two people on crews isn’t just about preserving jobs, it’s also about safety.

Reaching a new deal would likely make it easier for the railroads to hire new employees, which they recognize they must do to improve service and reduce cost. delays that have plagued cargo shipments this year. Major freight railroads have said they want to hire hundreds more workers, but a labor shortage is making it difficult.


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