The National Carriers Conference Committee (NCCC), representing most Class I railroads and many smaller railroads, met Monday, September 26 with representatives from District 19 of the International Association of Machinists and aerospace workers (machinists) to amend a tentative agreement rejected by members of this union in a ratification vote earlier this month. The intention is that the amended version will be resubmitted to the membership for a second ratification vote.
The 12 rail unions and the NCCC have reached tentative agreements, but each is subject to a membership ratification vote. The machinists of Division 19 are, so far, the only ones of the 12 to reject the tentative agreements reached with the carriers.
Members of two other railway unions – the Transportation Communications Union (TCU) and the Brotherhood Railway Carmen (BRC), both also affiliated with the machinists – voted for ratification, while nine other railway unions have ratification votes in waiting or preparing to question members. .
Collectively, the 12 unions represent some 125,000 workers affected by these contract negotiations.
The carriers are unlikely to further soften the wage provisions of any of the tentative agreements, offering wage increases of 24% over five years and retroactive to January 1, 2020. More likely, the adjustment, if it is passed and accepted by Division 19 negotiators, will affect work rules or benefits applicable only to Division 19 machinists, whose membership (provided by the NCCC in 2020) is 6,660. The TCU and the BRC together represent some 13,000 railway workers affected by the tentative agreements.
The interim agreements, as well as the agreements ratified by the TCU and the BRC, contain “me too” clauses, meaning that all carrier-accepted sweeteners with Division 19 will be added to all other agreements. Otherwise, no union would have the incentive to be the first to ratify.
The two largest railway unions, the Transportation Division of the Sheet Metal, Air, Railroad and Transportation Workers International Association (SMART-TD) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Servicemen (BLET ), collectively representing more than 60,000 railroad workers affected by these interim agreements – are delaying the completion of ratification votes until mid-November, when Congress returns from a midterm election break.
There are no guardrails preventing one or more unions from striking before then – or carriers from imposing a lockout – but such action, which would shut down the national rail network, is not expected. before all ratification votes are completed.