SMART-TD votes against labor deal as rail nears nationwide strike

An aerial view of shipping containers and freight trains at the BNSF Los Angeles Intermodal Facility marshalling yard in Los Angeles, California, September 15, 2022.

Bing Guan | Reuters

SMART-TD, one of the largest railway unions, voted against the tentative agreement with the railway management, increasing the likelihood of a strike in December. BLET, the other largest union representing engineers, voted to ratify the labor agreement but said it would keep the picket line.

“We have stood shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters at SMART-TD and others in the railroad work throughout this process and will continue to stand in solidarity with them as we near the finish line in this round of negotiations,” said BLET President Dennis Pierce.

BMWED, which represents the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees, is scheduled to strike with the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS) on December 5. But BMWED announced it would extend its reflection period if one of the larger unions voted not to ratify the interim labor agreement. The BRS has not indicated whether it will extend its deadline meeting for conversations.

SMART-TD, BMWED and BRS account for more than 50% of all railway workers.

BMWED AND BRS hold another round of talks with railroad companies on federal sick pay on Monday afternoon.

During the preliminary review process of the agreement, Pierce and SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson toured the country together and held common town halls explain the deal to union members. Both unions attribute the record turnout to meetings between presidents and members.

BLET, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, represents approximately 24,000 professional locomotive engineers and trainmen in the United States. The BLET is a founding member of the Rail Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

The majority of SMART Transportation Division members are conductors – who split from the other union members when they voted – but the union also represents brakemen, shipyard workers, machine service workers and shipyard foremen, who vote on a separate contract. SMART-TD has a total of 36,000 members. In order to ratify the preliminary agreement, each of these respective union groups must individually agree to the agreement.

Economic impact of the national rail strike

The American Chemistry Council, which among other things represents companies 3M, dow, dupont, bpExxon Mobile and Eli Lillisays a rail strike would affect about $2.8 billion in chemical shipments weekly and lead to a drop in GDP and renewed inflation.

“AAR data shows that during the week of September 10, when railroads stopped accepting shipments due to the threat of strikes, 1,975 carloads of chemical shipments were reduced,” said Jeff Sloan, senior director of transportation policy at ACC. recently to CNBC. “We would expect a similarly dramatic drop in chemical shipments if an embargo were imposed this month.”

Other industries, from agriculture to retail, have warned of the economic risks of a strike. The railway industry appreciated that Impact of a strike on $2 billion per day. A strike would affect all major rail operators, including Union Pacific, Norfolk in the south and CSX.

UPS, rail’s largest customer, said in a statement from a spokesman that it has the capabilities to handle the situation if no agreement is reached, including its flexible and integrated intelligent logistics network. “Our network planning tools also enable extensive coordination between UPS facilities around the world, including preemptively rerouting packages to alternate routes to minimize unexpected disruptions to our customers,” the spokesman said.

Based on September strike preparation guidelines, strike preparation is expected to begin on November 28 if the BRS sticks to its December 5 strike date, the day the Senate returns from the Thanksgiving recess. The house is back on the hill on November 29th.

Why a nationwide rail workers' strike this December poses a huge risk

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