Today, the freight railroads and BMWED extended their current cooling off period until at least December 4 to align with all other rail unions yet to ratify their tentative agreements. As a result of this agreement, members of the two largest rail unions – BLET and SMART-TD – will complete the ratification votes that currently are underway prior to any potential work stoppage. This agreement provides greater certainty for the economy, rail customers and rail passengers ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
“This agreement to extend the cooling off period affords all unionized employees the opportunity to vote on their agreements free of a looming strike threat,” said AAR President and CEO Ian Jefferies. “Our goal remains the same – successfully completing this round of bargaining – and we stand ready to reach an agreement with BMWED based upon the Presidential Emergency Board’s recommendations.”
To date, seven labor unions have ratified agreements based on the recommendations of three experienced arbitrators appointed by President Biden, and three other ratification votes are pending. The tentative agreements reached in the round provide employees a 14.1% wage increase effective immediately and a 24% wage increase by 2024, the largest increase in five decades, and an immediate average payout of almost $16,000 per employee. By the end of the agreement, the average rail worker’s pay would reach about $110,000 and total compensation (including benefits) would reach about $160,000 per year. The railroads seek, and continue to advocate for, a prompt resolution that rewards rail employees, allows the railroads to continue servicing customers and prevents further disruption to the struggling supply chain.