THE COORDINATED BARGAINING COALITION RELEASED THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT ON APRIL 25, 2022:
On January 24, 2022, after more than two years of bargaining with the major U.S. Class I railroads, the 10 Rail Unions bargaining as part of the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition (CBC) announced that they had applied to the National Mediation Board (NMB) for the assignment of a federal mediator to assist in the negotiations.
As we advised then, the carriers represented by the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC) simply were not bargaining in good faith. Unfortunately, nothing has changed during the four mediated bargaining sessions that the CBC has held with the NCCC. Having reported record 4th quarter 2021 profits, followed by 1st quarter 2022 record profits, the rail carriers continue to refuse to withdraw their demands for work rule and health and welfare concessions. Even more ridiculous and unacceptable is their refusal to agree to meaningful wage increases while making record profits during the highest level of inflation seen in years.
Adding insult to injury, the NCCC not only refused our request to bargain on wages at our mediated session last week, they then sent the CBC Unions a national proposal offering to pay lump sum payments of $600.00 (maximum payment) in the remaining months of 2022 while the parties remain stuck in endless and unproductive mediation. Regardless of the gaslighting the NCCC has done on their proposal, it is not all they say it is. The payments will have to be repaid from any backpay payments that may be in the ultimate national contract settlement. If there are insufficient backpay earnings to repay the lump sums, the employee will owe the employer the balance. All CBC Unions, responding in a united front, have rejected the latest NCCC proposal.
This latest proposal, somewhere between a loan and a pay day advance, is just further evidence that the NCCC has no intentions of reaching a voluntary settlement any time soon. You don’t offer temporary proposals if you plan to offer a complete contract settlement. In fact, the CEOs of UP and CSX both said in their earnings reports this past week that there would be no national contract settlement for months.
The members of our Unions, who have carried the rail carriers through a pandemic and to record profits, deserve a full contract settlement now. Due to the NCCC’s refusal to negotiate such a proposal, all CBC Unions have filed requests with the NMB asking that our contract dispute be advanced to the next steps of the Railway Labor Act process, which is for the NMB to proffer arbitration to the parties. Should either party reject the proffer, it would start a 30-day cooling off period before any party could exercise self-help.
As we advised in January, we had hoped that the involvement of the NMB would cause the industry to refocus on addressing the legitimate needs of the men and women whose labor generates their positive financial returns. That has not happened, and there is no indication that it will without allowing the remaining steps of the Railway Labor Act to play out to compel a favorable settlement.
The unions comprising the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition are: the American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA); the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen / Teamsters Rail Conference (BLET); the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS); the International Association of Machinists (IAM); the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB); the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers/SEIU (NCFO); the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU); the Transportation Communications Union / IAM (TCU), including TCU’s Brotherhood Railway Carmen Division (BRC); and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART–TD).
Collectively, the CBC unions represent more than 105,000 railroad workers covered by the various organizations’ national agreements, and comprise over 80% of the workforce who will be impacted by this round of negotiations.