WR joined over 350 organizations in signing onto a Coalition Rail Labor Letter to Congress circulated by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce urging them to take immediate steps upon reconvening to prevent a national rail strike and the certain economic destruction that would follow.
This past weekend, the International Association of Machinists ratified the tentative rail agreement—the seventh union to do so. Two others have rejected the deal, including the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Union (BMWED), which rejected the tentative agreement a couple of weeks ago. They announced yesterday that they are extending their “status quo” cooling off period from November 19 to December 4 to synch with the BRS Union’s status quo. BMWED further announced that if the BLET and SMART-TD reject the contract, the status quo would be further extended to December 8 to match those unions.
The rail strike threat is now pushed back to December 5 or 9, pending the BLET and SMART-TD ratification votes. Discussions are ongoing with BMWED, but Congress must step in to prevent a rail strike if they do not extend.
Congress has intervened 18 times since 1926 in labor negotiations that threaten interstate commerce, and WR urges them not to deviate from this record today. A voluntary agreement between the major freight railroads and the 12 unions would be the best outcome. However, the risks to our nation’s economy and communities make a national rail strike unacceptable.