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National Bargaining Update: No Progress With Class 1 Railroads Due To Their Unreasonable Proposal

Published: Dec 3 2021 3:41PM

The BMWED/SMART-MD Coalition held another mediation session today with the National Carriers Conference Committee (NCCC), as facilitated by the assigned mediator of the National Mediation Board (NMB).

The Carriers provided a brief presentation, summarizing their bargaining position, which remains that railroad workers deserve: minimal wage increases that do not keep up with the rising cost of living; diminished health insurance benefits and increased out of pocket costs for those worsened benefits; unpredictable work schedules and rest days by giving the Carriers more flexibility for workweek assignments; and less opportunity to perform work that is within the scope of their respective Agreement so that contractors can do such work instead. 

These are untenable positions for the BMWED/SMART-MD and we remain opposed to this carrier offer.

Labor Economist Tom Roth provided a presentation regarding the Railroads’ economic performance through the third quarter of 2021, on behalf of the BMWED/SMART-MD Coalition.  Roth’s presentation reaffirms the railroads’ unrealistic and unreasonable bargaining position, considering the carriers’ recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and continued spree of record profitability and record low operating ratios.  Roth also pointed out that the railroads have so much cash money on hand that the “Big 3” railroads (CSX, NS and Union Pacific) spent over $28 billion in stock buybacks in the last 33 months, while spending only $25.3 billion in wages and benefits for all their employees combined.  

BMWED/SMART-MD Coalition spokesman, Richard Edelman, followed Roth’s presentation with some comments, noting that railroad employment levels are down nearly 30% since the last round of National Negotiations, and that railroad workers are quitting more frequently than ever – often in mid-career which is unheard of in this industry - given the railroads’ continued campaign of demanding more and more work from less and less railroad workers.  He also noted that the railroads would need to recognize that in order to reach an Agreement, the railroads would have to make real changes in their bargaining position.

“The railroads need to step into reality,” BMWED/SMART-MD leaders Fred Simpson and Joe Fraley said.  “Railroaders have had enough and deserve better.  The railroads are treating these hardworking men and women as less than deserving, and all that is doing is building more resentment between workers and the boss.  Give us a comprehensive proposal, or let’s get on with it.  Our folks have had enough and they’re ready to go.”