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Another union accepts tentative deal with railroads

9 out of 12 unions have agreements as Friday strike deadline looms

More than 140,000 employees have been part of a 33-month-old series of collective bargaining meetings with Class I railroads. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

The National Conference of Firemen & Oilers (NFCO) has reached a tentative agreement with U.S. freight railroads on a new labor contract, the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC) announced Tuesday.

“The tentative agreement announced today includes a 24% wage increase during the five-year period from 2020 through 2024 — with a 14.1% wage increase effective immediately — and five annual $1,000 lump sum payments,” the NCCC said in a statement. “Portions of the wage increases and lump sum payments are retroactive and will be paid out promptly upon ratification of the agreements by the union’s membership.”

The NFCO represents about 2,400 members. The latest deal means nine out of the 12 labor unions that have been part of a 33-month-old series of collective bargaining meetings with Class I railroads have reached agreements. The five Class I railroads are BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific.

Over the weekend, three unions reached tentative agreements. A new labor deal has been in the works since January 2020, but the negotiations had failed to progress. A federal mediation board took up the negotiations, but released the parties from those efforts earlier this summer.

There are more than 140,000 rail or rail-related employees bargaining for everything from time off to sick pay, health care, train crew size and raises.

A “cooling off” period expires Friday, at which time workers can strike, creating a nationwide rail shutdown that would likely elicit an intervention from Congress to keep the country’s supply chains moving.

The two remaining unions that have not reached an agreement with the railroads are the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers – Transportation Division and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.

The nine unions that have reached agreements are:

— Transportation Communications Union/International Association of Machinists.

— Brotherhood of Railway Carmen.

— International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

— International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

— American Train Dispatchers Association.

— Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

— International Brotherhood of Boilermakers.

— International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers – Mechanical Department.

— National Conference of Firemen & Oilers, SEIU.

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Maryland and Texas. Contact [email protected]