OMAHA, Neb. — Another union approved the deal it made with major freight railroads last month that helped stave off a strike to secure 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses for the workers it represents.
The American Association of Rail Dispatchers said Tuesday that 64% of its roughly 1,600 members approved the deal with Union Pacific, BNSF, Kansas City Southern, CSX, Norfolk Southern and other railroads. The union said dispatchers will receive an average payment of $17,500 when the five-year agreement becomes final because it is retroactive to 2020.
Four smaller rail unions have now approved their agreements with the railroads, but the two largest unions representing engineers and conductors won’t vote on their tentative agreements until mid-November. The 12 unions representing some 115,000 workers have to approve these deals to avoid a strike, but much of the focus is on engineers and drivers because they have some of the biggest concerns about working hours and conditions.
Those two unions have said the strict attendance policies some railroads have put in place after the industry shed nearly a third of its jobs in the past six years make it difficult to take time off and keep workers available on weekdays. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
But even if one of the rail unions rejects their deal now, there won’t automatically be a strike because both sides have agreed to give time to come back to the table if a deal doesn’t pass.
Most of the deals railroad unions vote on closely follow recommendations made by a special board of arbitrators President Joe Biden appointed this summer to help resolve the contract dispute that began nearly three years ago. The administration pressed both sides to reach agreements before the September 16 strike deadline due to concerns about how a strike could cripple the economy.
In addition to what that board recommended, unions representing engineers and conductors, the Brotherhood of Locomotive and Train Engineers and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Unions, also negotiated to Get three unpaid leaves of absence. days for medical appointments and the promise that workers will not be penalized if they are hospitalized. The railroads also agreed to further bargain with those unions to improve the scheduling of regular days off for workers.