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Another rail union reaches ratification of labor agreement

The possibility of a railway strike has been high on the list of concerns for not just the U.S. trucking industry, but also the country as a whole as a strike could cause a supply chain blockage. The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division, a union that has rejected a tentative labor agreement and have yet to renegotiate a new one, could begin striking as early as Nov. 19, according to the National Carriers Conference Committee (NCCC).

Conversely, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), just ratified a labor agreement, as reported by Freightwaves. The agreement has been in the works for three years and was approved by a vote of union members.

The total count for union membership is nearly 4,900 employees serving in positions of locomotive machinists, roadway mechanists, and facility maintenance employees. Fifty-two percent of those employees voted to accept the agreement.

The union said that they are “confident that this is the best deal for our members,” ending the negotiation period and simultaneously decreasing the chance of a strike severe enough to cause a supply chain blockage. The union aims to continue evolving the agreement to increase overall approval rates.

“Our union recognizes that the agreement wasn’t accepted overwhelmingly, so our team will continue conversing with our members at our rail yards across the nation,” the union said. “This agreement is the first step in addressing some of the issues in our industry.”

The leaders of IAM’s union were committed to forging an agreement, working “night and day to communicate the agreement’s benefits and what would happen if it was rejected,” the union said.

In the labor agreement, the union focused on ensuring a sustainable balance between work and personal life for their employees.

“Our fight was able to shine a light on the work-life balance issues as well as the lack of proper paid sick leave,” IAM said. “Our union will continue to amplify the deficiencies in the carriers’ sick leave and attendance policies.”

Satisfaction was felt for both the IAM union and the NCCC, which represented the freight railways.

“The IAM agreement, like the agreements with six other rail unions that have already ratified, implements the recommendations of Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) No. 250, including the largest wage package in nearly five decades, maintains rail employees’ platinum-level health benefits, and adds an additional day of paid time off for IAM-represented workers,” NCCC said.

The agreement that was struck is the result of an unsuccessful ratification in October.

“The successful result announced today follows an initial unsuccessful ratification attempt by the IAM last month. The ratified agreement is consistent with the framework recommended by the PEB,” NCCC said.

Seven unions have struck agreements with freight railways, and three still need to vote for either approval or rejection, according to the NCCC.