Railroad major union SMART-TD votes to reject labor deal as nationwide strike nears

Railroad major union SMART-TD votes to reject labor deal as nationwide strike nears

An aerial view of shipping containers and freight trains at the BNSF Los Angeles Intermodal Facility yard in Los Angeles, California, September 15, 2022.

Bing Guan | Reuters

SMART-TD, one of the largest railroad unions, rejected the tentative agreement with railroad management, raising the likelihood of a strike in December. BLET, the other largest union that represents engineers, voted to ratify the labor agreement but said it would respect the picket line.

“We have stood side by side with our brothers and sisters at SMART-TD and other rail workers throughout this process and we will continue to stand in solidarity with them as we approach the finish line of this round of negotiations,” BLET President Dennis said. Pierce.

The BMWED, which represents the Brotherhood of Track Maintenance Employees, is due to strike on December 5 with the Brotherhood of Railway Signalmen (BRS). But BMWED said it would extend its cooling-off period if any of the biggest unions voted not to ratify the interim labor agreement. The BRS has not indicated whether it will extend its deadline for the talks.

SMART-TD, BMWED AND BRS account for more than 50% of the total railway workforce.

BMWED AND BRS are having another round of talks with rail carriers on Monday afternoon about federal sick pay.

During the tentative agreement review process, Pierce and SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson traveled the country together and held joint town hall meetings to explain the agreement to union members. Both unions attribute the record turnout to the result of the presidents’ meetings with members.

BLET, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, represents approximately 24,000 professional locomotive engineers and trainmen throughout the United States. The BLET is the founding member of the Rail Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

The majority of members in the SMART Transportation division are conductors – who split from other union members in the vote – but the union also represents brakemen, yardmen, engine maintenance workers and the yardmasters, who vote on a separate contract. SMART-TD has a total of 36,000 members. To ratify the tentative agreement, each of these respective labor groups must individually agree to the agreement.

Economic impact of the national railway strike

The American Chemistry Council, which represents companies such as 3M, Dow, Dupont, PBExxon Mobil and Eli Lilysays a railroad strike would impact about $2.8 billion worth of chemical goods per week, and lead to lower GDP and higher inflation.

“AAR data shows there was a drop of 1,975 carloads of chemical shipments during the week of September 10 when railroads stopped accepting shipments due to the threat of a strike,” Jeff Sloan, ACC’s senior director of transportation policy, told CNBC recently. “We would expect a similar dramatic reduction in chemical shipments if an embargo were to take place this month.”

Other industries, from agriculture to retail, have warned of the economic risks of a strike. The rail industry has estimated the impact of a strike at $2 billion a day. A strike would affect all major rail operators, including Union Pacific, South Norfolk and CSX.

UPS, which is the railroad’s largest customer, said in a statement from a spokesperson that it has the capabilities to help manage the situation if a deal is not reached, which includes its flexible and integrated smart logistics network. “Our network planning tools also enable extensive coordination between UPS facilities around the world, including preemptive rerouting of packages to alternate routes to minimize unforeseen disruptions to our customers,” the spokesperson said.

Based on the September strike preparation guidelines, if the BRS sticks to its strike date of December 5, strike preparation is expected to begin on November 28, the day the Senate returns from recess. Thanksgiving. The House returns to the Hill on November 29.

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