Union negotiations stalled – National rail shut down within 90 days possible

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Negotiations between major railroads and their unions have stalled, setting up for what could be a significant railroad shut down before the midterm elections that could paralyze an already-strained US supply chain.

Railway Age reports the National Mediation Board (NMB) on June 14 began what could be a “ticking time bomb” toward a national railroad shut down within 90 days, following its board of three, two Democratic members agreeing with rail labor and NMB’s only Republican disagreeing that means a voluntary agreement to amend unionized rail worker wages, benefits and work rules won’t be achievable.

Talks between rail labor (12 rail craft unions bargaining in two coalitions on behalf of 115k rail workers) and major railroads, including Union Pacific Corp. and BNSF Railway Co., will enter a 30-day cooling period this Friday. Then the Biden administration may appoint a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) to resolve the dispute.

“The railroads would consider accepting the proffer, but the union leadership has already indicated that it will not,” the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC), which represents major railroads, said in a statement. “The railroads expect a PEB will be appointed in this dispute before the end of the 30-day cooling-off period, as has been the case in prior unresolved national rail negotiations,” NCCC continued.


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