BLET President Dennis Pierce (center, in black) and SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson at right, in blue, speak with the hundreds of attendees at the Houston Solidarity Rally on Oct. 17.

SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy Ferguson and Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen President Dennis Pierce stood shoulder-to-shoulder as they answered direct questions from a standing-room-only crowd Oct. 18 at the annual Solidarity Rally for Rail Labor in Houston, Texas.

SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy Ferguson speaks during the Houston Solidarity Rally Oct. 17.

Hundreds of members and officers from SMART-TD, BLET and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED) — the nation’s three largest freight rail labor unions — gathered to address hot-button issues in the industry, including the tentative National Rail Agreement (TA), to be voted upon soon by TD members.

“It was a great opportunity again to collaborate with BLET President Pierce, to get the facts out there at a face-to-face event about what’s going on in our industry,” President Ferguson said. “SMART-TD, BLET and other unions went through more than two and a half years of negotiations. There’s a lot to unpack about where the industry is right now, and it was good for us to have a factual presentation about the PEB and how the tentative agreement was constructed.

“This was a very lively event, and one where we were able to get right down to an honest discussion about our members’ upcoming ratification process and the decisions that lie ahead,” he said. “Years ago, I don’t know if the degree of solidarity among these different unions would have existed. It’s open dialogue like this that’s a healthy way to combat some of the untruths that’s been floating out there regarding the tentative agreement. Both President Pierce and I are absolutely committed to working together as we continue to move forward, in solidarity.”

Along with President Ferguson, SMART General President Joseph Sellers and other officers enjoyed the hospitality of the Houston rally’s organizers. Special recognition goes out to General Chairperson Roy Davis and GCA Secretary Buddy Piland (GO 577) for putting the event together. As always, Local 1892 out of Houston was heavily involved in the hometown event, including Vice Local Chairperson Keith Green (LCA-577), Local Secretary & Treasurer Robert Maldonado, Legislative Representative Butch Boggess and retiree Dan Holak. General Chairperson Chris Alston (GCA-803) out of Local 1686, GCA Secretary Buddy Piland (GCA-577) out of Local 1205 and Darvin Scott of Local 524 also put in hard work at getting things rolling at the headquarters of SPJST Lodge 88.

Representatives from the SMART-TD Auxiliary, AFL-CIO, UTUIA, Railroad Retirement Board and NARVRE as well as United Healthcare, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and a number of SMART-TD Designated Legal Counsel attended as well.

Local 1892’s Maldonado estimated that there were anywhere from 250 to 300 people in attendance, giving it the air of a “mini-regional” meeting, even after a two-year hiatus because of the COVID pandemic.

“GC Davis was telling me that 30 to 40 general chairpersons from throughout the country were in attendance and are looking forward to this event next year already,” Maldonado said. “Quite a few BLET GCs from the Texas/Gulf Coast area were in attendance as well. This rally is a multi-craft and multi-railroad (UP/BNSF/KCS/PORT TERMINAL RR) and from what I’ve been told, the biggest and best one held throughout the country.”

Maldonado said nine SMART locals participated as well as four BLET lodges and BMWED Lodge 1058.

“A big thank-you goes to the Houston-area Designated Legal Counsel Marc Zito, Sara Youngdahl and Clint McGuire for their continued support and sponsorship of this huge event. I don’t want to forget to thank SMART-TD Auxiliary 281 for their help with the decorations and SMART-TD Texas State Legislative director Kamron Saunders for sponsorship and support as well,” he said.

“I was told that this year’s rally was the best one yet and that having Presidents Ferguson and Pierce attend was a home run,” Maldonado said. “So we will start prepping for the 2023 Solidarity Rally next year. Everything is BIGGER in TEXAS.”

Next on President Ferguson’s schedule is a discussion at the Tacoma Regional Training Seminar occurring this week.

The CEO of the National Association of Chemical Distributors seems to understand how to fix the railroads better than the carriers do.

Supply Chain Dive published an opinion article Oct. 17 by Eric R. Byer, who leads the National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD), in which he laid out some basic blueprints to rebuilding the American railroad industry.

NACD’s Eric Byer

Written from the perspective of heavily rail-dependent customers, Byer does a great job of laying out an overhead shot of the current state of the rail industry, and then poses the question, “Why are we in this predicament?”

Refreshingly, his answer is, “Because the freight rail companies put us here.”

As his column puts it, the root of the labor dispute and poor service to the customers spawn from the same source. The advent and spread of Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) has enticed carriers to indulge in a buffet of greed and railroad labor, the nation’s supply chain and the railroads’ captive customers are paying the price for carriers’ short-sighted indiscretions.

The article points out another victim of the carrier’s overreach may well turn out to be the American economy. As Byer points out and as the Association of American Railroads put out to the media back in September, a rail labor stoppage will cost the country $2 billion daily

From the perspective of the rail customers, Byer points out the obvious. The fact is that manpower issues on the railroad are making it difficult for rail-dependent companies to function, meet supply deadlines and be profitable. This is not a new thought, but Byer’s angle on how to address the problem is very different from the traditional one taken by railroad executives. 

Byer thinks the solution is to add more horses to the plow team rather than giving the farmer more whips. That is to say, creating a satisfied, fully staffed and not habitually broken workforce is a better fix than squeezing every minute carriers can legally get out those who are still working for them. 

He also discusses that, in addition to PSR, quality-of-life concerns led to the manpower shortage. He references the fact that our members are highly skilled professionals with extensive training who are subject to working standards that don’t meet the criteria of unskilled full-time workers.

It is good to know that there’s at least one CEO out there in Byer who can connect the dots between what he calls a “woefully inadequate” sick leave policy for workers, and American products not reaching the market, the subject of Surface Transportation Board and U.S. House hearings earlier this year.

Read Byer’s open column on supplychaindive.com

In a rare acknowledgment of the value railroaders bring to the table, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) has named October 15 as “Railroad Workers Day”.

Gov. Murphy went on the record saying, “Through extreme weather events and a global pandemic, our state’s railroad workers have demonstrated extraordinary bravery despite significant obstacles. Their courage, as well as their role as the backbone of our state’s expanding transportation network, must not be overlooked. On October 15th – and every day – we honor the contributions of our workers not just as employees, but as New Jerseyans committed to promoting safety, efficiency, and economic activity in our local communities.”

By signing Senate Joint Resolution 86 (SJR 86), Gov. Murphy is giving a spotlight to rail labor in a moment when that light is desperately needed. As SMART-TD and other rail labor organizations engage in national rail labor negotiations with carriers who are willfully blind to the sacrifice and professionalism that our members embody, it is refreshing to hear that our answer to the call of duty has not gone unheard or unnoticed.

“Railroads continue to serve a crucial, and often overlooked, role in our society. Whether in transporting consumer goods or helping commuters get to and from work, we rely on rail services and railroad workers to keep our economy afloat,” said Assemblyman Daniel Benson (D), chair of the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee. “By designating October 15th as New Jersey Railroad Workers Day, we carve out time to recognize the invaluable service railroad workers provide for the people of New Jersey.” 

N.J. State Sen. Patrick J. Diegnan (D) was the primary sponsor of SJR 86 and cited rail labor’s persistence through COVID-19 as one of the reasons he felt it necessary to push this resolution through. In reference to our efforts, Diegnan said, “Without their contributions, the pandemic’s adverse impact on New Jersey and its residents would have been exacerbated. These workers put themselves and their families at risk for the benefit of the entire state. This recognition is a token of our appreciation for the dedication and sacrifices of all railroad workers. I am extremely proud to be a part of establishing the annual ‘New Jersey Railroad Workers Day.’”

For his part, SMART-TD New Jersey State Legislative Director (SLD) Ron Sabol said, “The men and women moving freight and passengers through the pandemic were not only essential workers, they should be viewed as heroic. Wherever there is a crisis going on, you have railroaders putting it on the line to fix it.   Where there are wars, railroad infrastructure is always on the list of targets. Much is asked of our men and women, whether it means getting supplies to store shelves and nurses to their shifts during COVID or getting people out of the Ukraine to avoid civilian casualties. Railroad workers are getting it done everywhere you look. This consistent selflessness in times of chaos is why I thought it was important to get this bill done. These men and women deserve recognition and respect.”

SMART-TD would like to thank SLD Sabol, state Sen. Diegnan, Assembly Transportation Chairman Benson, Gov. Murphy and the state of New Jersey for putting in the work to get this bill through the legislative process. We look forward to celebrating Railroad Workers Day with you in your state for years to come.

Brothers and Sisters,

It’s no secret that Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) has devastated this industry. And it’s no secret that safety and service have suffered, but now the most vulnerable among us are being threatened. In the carriers’ pursuit to remove themselves from the limelight of regulatory authorities and neglected shippers, they are now blindly rushing new-hire trainees through unilaterally expedited training courses that have slashed educational curriculums in the hopes of being able to reflect an inflated headcount to remove the proverbial wolves from off their backs.

Today, in far too many Class I training courses, newly hired employees are receiving less than half of the standard training times that existed little more than a year ago. Without so much as an improved educational mechanism, the railroads are falsely claiming the ability to train in less time with less on-the-job experience. The material has not changed. The way in which the education is delivered has not changed. The only thing different is the abbreviated time frame, which is unacceptable and a danger to us all.

Exacerbating this issue is the fact that the railroads are not adequately staffed for on-the-job training. Currently, a concerning number of complaints have been received by our National Legislative Office pertaining to trainees being trained by newly promoted conductors. This practice is reckless, irresponsible, and a violation of the applicable regulations. A carrier should never task a recently promoted conductor with the training of another new hire employee unless it has received explicit approval from the union, and only in very limited circumstances. Permitting an employee with less than 12 months of service to train a new hire employee is not only a violation of the regulations, but it has resulted in injuries and fatalities in the past and we cannot allow it to continue.

Additionally, accidents and incidents involving newly promoted conductors (those which have graduated from these shortened training programs) are occurring. It is critical that we be made aware of these mishaps so that we can follow-up with the employee to offer assistance, where needed, and to ascertain that the carriers are reporting in compliance with the regulations and/or their internal operating rules and procedures. As you are aware, the FRA relies on the carriers to self-report or self-police, so it is vitally important that we can verify their compliance in order to ensure proper accountability.

Lastly, we are asking you to please be on the lookout for your new brothers and sisters. Keep a watchful eye over them, but also encourage them to report the concerns and shortcomings they have experienced both in the classroom and in the field to the Unsafe Condition Report on our website or the SMART-TD app. Let them know that it is OK to bring these issues to us, and that their reports will be kept confidential. If you see a wrongdoing, please let us know. For example, if they are assigned to an employee with less than 12 months of service, or if they are involved in an incident that could serve as an indicator for a lack of training, please report that to your local representative as soon as possible.

Local officers, if you receive a report of this nature, please promptly pass it up to your General Chairperson and State Legislative Director for further handling. We are all in this together, and we have to have each other’s back, but we also have to hold the carriers accountable and to ensure they meet their mandate to provide a safe working environment.

In solidarity,
Jeremy R. Ferguson
President, Transportation Division

Brothers and Sisters of our unions:

Presidential Emergency Board (“PEB” or “the Board”) 250 conducted hearings in Washington, D.C. this past week, concluding on July 28th. We both were honored to represent our unions and, by extension, the memberships of the dozen strong United Rail Unions as we presented and testified in support of our unified case to the PEB. We are sharing this joint message to ensure that our members are up to date on all of the bargaining round issues.

For the first time in history, the 12 United Rail Unions, representing 115,000 members in every craft in the industry, presented a unified case on wages, healthcare, sick leave and holidays to the Board. Also for the first time in history, SMART-TD and BLET presidents made joint presentations on our unions’ proposals to eliminate carrier-imposed attendance policies, provide for voluntary rest days for road crews, and to increase away-from-home terminal meal allowances. In addition, BLET Director of Benefits Dan Cook, who also serves as the Cooperating Railway Labor Organizations’ administrator, testified in support of the United Rail Unions’ unified Health and Welfare proposal and SMART-TD VP Brent Leonard testified in opposition to the crew consist issues that the carriers attempted to improperly raise in this proceeding.

At the conclusion of the first day of hearings on July 24, and in an effort to keep our memberships current on the status of the bargaining round, the United Rail Unions released summaries of our final proposals before the Board, as well as the carriers’ final proposals. Those proposals are still available on our union websites. We encourage all members to take the time to review them, and more importantly, realize just how far apart the two sides remain after more than two and a half years of negotiations.

As has been said since an update from the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition in January 2021 and in every update from rail labor since, it is also important to remember who is responsible for the absence of an acceptable National Rail Contract settlement. By reviewing the carriers’ final proposal presented before the PEB, it remains all too evident that they continue to refuse to make a realistic and worthy proposal that our voting members would ratify. That is why our contract dispute has reached a PEB, one of the final steps under the Railway Labor Act.

Regarding the unions’ final presentation before the PEB, it’s important to see how the union leadership arrived at their final proposal. Both parties served Section 6 notices in this round of bargaining at the start of negotiations in late 2019. Those notices are a mandatory starting point in the bargaining process, and generally include every item on which each individual union seeks to negotiate. As the parties negotiate, each side’s list of issues is prioritized to ensure that the most important ones are addressed in the ultimate contract settlement.

This bargaining round was no different. Based on membership feedback, several items were initially identified early on as key priorities including, increasing wages, rejecting concessions on healthcare, addressing unreasonable attendance policies and paid sick leave, and establishing predictable time away from work. The need for paid sick leave without penalty became even more evident with the pandemic and the manpower shortages caused by carriers’ continued mismanagement.

Leadership of the SMART-TD and BLET collaborated on presenting our craft-specific issues throughout negotiations and collaborated with our entire bargaining coalition on our shared issues. But, as is now obvious, the carriers refused to engage in meaningful bargaining on our most important issues. Multiple proposals were exchanged over these last two and a half years, including varying wage proposals, all in an effort to come to a voluntary agreement worthy of ratification by the membership.

Nowhere else was the distance between the sides more evident than in the discussion of wages. Contracts of both five- and six-year durations were proposed and discussed, driving differing values for the wage package. Our last unified wage proposal as we were released from mediation in June contained a six-year proposal with wage increases occurring July 1st of each year totaling 40%, with 36% of that payable in the first five years. In contrast, in January of 2022, the carriers’ proposed wage increase totaling 11% and their last proposal as we were released from mediation was a five-year proposal with wage increases occurring on July 1st of each year totaling 14%.

With a gap that wide, it was no surprise that voluntary efforts, as well as mandatory government-sponsored mediation, failed to reach an agreement. Once the parties were released from mediation, the United Rail Unions immediately began work preparing their final unified proposal to be presented to the PEB. That process included union leaders, the unions’ collective legal counsel, health care experts, and an expert economist. In the end, the unions agreed to present the summarized proposal shared with our memberships on July 24 at the close of the first day of hearings.

Before we get into the wage proposal numbers, it is important to understand the status of our negotiations as we went before the PEB. The PEB is not the start of negotiations. As explained above, the start of the negotiations happened when our lengthy Section 6 notices were served in 2019. Further, the PEB hearing is not a negotiation; it is an opportunity for both sides to present their final proposals, which must be supported with extensive economic data through live testimony. In this case, the hearing spanned five days, where both parties made presentations by expert witnesses to support their proposals. 

In crafting the unions’ final wage proposal, and knowing that those proposals had to be supported by our expert economist, an in-depth analysis was conducted — taking into account long-term wage growth, past and present, as well as increases in the cost of living for the years covered by the agreement. Consideration also had to be given to the financial value of the other non-wage proposals going before the PEB as part of crafting a final proposal that we believe the Board would recommend.

In the period between the close of NMB mediation in June and the PEB hearings in July, and after consultation with the unions’ economic expert, the unions determined that the wage proposal that could be best supported by our economic data was a final, unified proposal totaling a 28% gross wage increase (GWI), uncompounded, over five years. While some saw that move from our previous position of 36% over five years as too big, it is not certain that they understood the proposal’s other terms.

One other component of our final proposal was to move from the July 1 annual wage increase dates in our 36% proposal, to annual January 1 wage increases. The effect of this change is fairly simple math — paying each raise six months sooner doubles the value of each wage increase in the year it is applied.  In fact, on a base salary of $100,000, advancing the GWI schedule by six months each year generates additional compensation of over $15,000 during the term of the agreement as compared to July 1 annual increases. For someone with a base salary of $75,000, the advancement generates additional compensation of over $11,000 during the term of the Agreement — vastly reducing the financial gap between the 28% and prior 36% proposals. On the same base salaries, the unified proposal with the earlier effective dates would also generate in excess of $20,000 and $16,000, respectively, in back pay for the years 2020, 2021 and 2022. 

While we do not agree that it should impact the PEB decision, the history of wage increases in our National Agreements was part of the carriers’ presentation in opposition to not only our proposed wage increase values, but also against the earlier annual increase dates. That history is straightforward; no National Agreement in the past 45 years has included GWIs totaling over 18% for a five-year period. Regardless of that history, our economist clearly laid out the economic support for the 28% wage proposal presented to the PEB. 

Our health and welfare experts also made the case that no additional health and welfare costs should be pushed onto employees. We made the case for needed sick days and additional holidays for all involved Unions. We made a joint case for eliminating all non-negotiated attendance policies, allowing General Committees to serve notice to compel on-property bargaining for voluntary rest days, and improvements to our held away meal allowances.

All in all, the United Rail Unions made a sound, reasonable case before the PEB.  We must thank our team’s legal counsel, health care experts, expert economist and all of the witnesses who gave testimony on behalf of our United Rail Unions. In the coming weeks, we will receive the PEB’s recommendations for settlement of our dispute and then consider them.

While it was not possible, we also wish every member of every union could have attended the hearings before PEB 250 and to have had a chance to testify on their own behalf about the conditions, the struggles, and the situations that carriers have created for the people whose work brings them profit. Through their actions, and in the case of these drawn-out negotiations, their inaction, the carriers’ cavalier and pay-no-heed attitude toward our brothers and sisters who did the work through a pandemic, through job cuts and through an ongoing supply chain crisis could not be clearer. They do not care to either understand or respect their employees. Some of their assertions, such as how happy their employees are, were beyond belief — even to those of us that have heard their spin before. We refuted them all.

Following the recommendations of the PEB, the parties have another 30-day cooling off period to consider the recommendations and reach an agreement. If the carriers continue to refuse to make a ratifiable proposal, very critical decisions will have to be made during that period. As has been said time and again, do not listen to the carrier moles and trolls that attempt to blame this situation on the employees or their Unions. They are only attempting to divide us as we close in on the final months of this round of bargaining. Among our unions, our solidarity is our strength. Please do not allow those attempting to divide us to succeed.

In solidarity,

President Jeremy Ferguson

SMART Transportation Division

President Dennis Pierce,

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen

Today, July 24, 2022, the United Rail Unions, who are bargaining as part of the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way/SMART Mechanical Coalition, and the Carriers represented by the National Carriers Conference Committee (NCCC), began their presentations before Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) No. 250, which was appointed by President Biden on July 18, 2022.

The hearings are scheduled to continue through Thursday, July 28, with Friday reserved for facilitation meetings with the parties and the PEB. Following the hearings, the PEB will issue recommendations for settlement of the national agreement dispute. A second thirty-day cooling-off period will begin when those recommendations are issued, which should occur on or before August 15.

A summary of the proposals being advanced by the United Rail Unions can be found by reading this PDF, and a summary of the proposals being advanced by the NCCC can be found by reading this PDF.

The Unions’ proposals include a 5-year wage proposal seeking an increase of 31.2% when compounded, while the carriers are asking the PEB to recommend 17% compounded over 5 years.

On the issue of healthcare, the Unions are seeking status quo for employee cost sharing, and increases in autism and hearing benefits, which are long overdue. Despite our members being deemed “essential” and keeping the Nation’s rail system operating during the pandemic, the Carriers, just as they did during negotiations, have the audacity to ask the PEB to recommend massive healthcare concessions in both the form of drastic increases in employee costs and decreases in certain benefits, along with healthcare plan changes that only serve to further increase the record profits they are already reaping. In addition to wages and healthcare, the Unions are also seeking to create a national sick leave policy that would provide employees with 15 protected sick leave days and add three additional holidays, along with various craft-specific work rule proposals.

As we have previously communicated, the United Rail Unions remain unified in their efforts to secure the best contract possible for our members. We will show this week that the Unions’ proposals are supported by current economic data and are more than warranted when compared to our memberships’ contribution to the record profits of the rail carriers.

Additional information will be provided as developments warrant. We appreciate your continuing support.

Read this statement in PDF form.

###

The unions comprising the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition are: the American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA); the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen / Teamsters Rail Conference (BLET); the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS); the International Association of Machinists (IAM); the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB); the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers/SEIU (NCFO); the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU); the Transportation Communications Union / IAM (TCU), including TCU’s Brotherhood Railway Carmen Division (BRC); and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART–TD).

The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division and SMART Mechanical Unions are also bargaining as a coalition.

Collectively, these Unions represent approximately 115,000 railroad workers covered by the various organizations’ national agreements, and comprise 100% of the workforce who will be impacted by this round of negotiations.

The United Rail Unions issued the following statement June 9, 2022:

The rail unions who are bargaining as part of the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition (CBC) and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way/SMART Mechanical Coalition concluded their third week of compulsory joint National Mediation Board-mediated negotiations with the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC) yesterday.

These joint mediated negotiations, under the direction of the NMB board members themselves, resulted from the unions’ request to be released from mediation after more than two years of bargaining with the major U.S. Class I railroads.

The rail unions remain united in their effort to negotiate a fair agreement and stand together in rejecting all proposals that the rail carriers have advanced in our mediation sessions. Our members are the backbone of the rail network and they have earned a contract that recognizes their contributions. None of the carrier proposals to date come close to that; instead the carriers continue to advance proposals that insult the very employees that made their record profits possible.

Enough is enough, the only pathway to resolving this dispute is for the NMB to put forth a proffer of arbitration to move the dispute to the final steps of the Railway Labor Act.

Additional information will be provided as developments warrant. We appreciate your continuing support.

###

The unions comprising the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition are: the American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA); the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen / Teamsters Rail Conference (BLET); the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS); the International Association of Machinists (IAM); the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB); the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers/SEIU (NCFO); the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU); the Transportation Communications Union / IAM (TCU), including TCU’s Brotherhood Railway Carmen Division (BRC); and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART–TD).

The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division and SMART Mechanical Unions are also bargaining as a coalition.

Collectively, these unions represent approximately 140,000 railroad workers covered by the various organizations’ national agreements, and comprise 100% of the workforce who will be impacted by this round of negotiations.

This release is available in PDF form.

The United Rail Unions issued the following statement June 2, 2022:

The rail unions who are bargaining as part of the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition (CBC) and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way/SMART Mechanical Coalition concluded their second week of compulsory joint National Mediation Board-mediated negotiations with the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC) yesterday.

These joint mediated negotiations, under the direction of the NMB board members themselves, resulted from the unions’ request to be released from mediation after more than two years of bargaining with the major U.S. Class I railroads.

In spite of the unions’ best efforts to negotiate a fair agreement, the NCCC and the rail carriers that it represents still refuse to make a comprehensive settlement proposal that our members would even remotely entertain. In fact, the carriers continue to advance proposals that insult the hard-working union members who have carried our nation through the pandemic.

Although all of the involved unions would prefer to reach a voluntary agreement, it has become quite clear at this point that the rail carriers will not bargain in good faith to that end. For that reason, all of the involved rail unions are again requesting that the NMB put forth a proffer of arbitration to move our contract dispute through the remaining steps of the Railway Labor Act.

Additional information will be provided as developments warrant. We appreciate your continuing support.

View this release in PDF form.

###

The unions comprising the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition are: the American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA); the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen / Teamsters Rail Conference (BLET); the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS); the International Association of Machinists (IAM); the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB); the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers/SEIU (NCFO); the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU); the Transportation Communications Union / IAM (TCU), including TCU’s Brotherhood Railway Carmen Division (BRC); and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART–TD).

The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED) and SMART Mechanical Division (SMART-MD) are also bargaining as a coalition.

Collectively, these unions represent approximately 140,000 railroad workers covered by the various organizations’ national agreements, and comprise 100% of the workforce who will be impacted by this round of negotiations.

FRA is seeking a hazardous materials railroad safety inspector to be based out of Baton Rouge, La.

The position requires that the candidate:

  • Plans and carries out periodic inspections at rail hazardous materials shipper/consignee locations including oil & gas refineries/fractionation plants, chemical and explosives manufacturers, rail intermodal terminals/van yards, freight forwarders, import/export agents and tank car manufacturing and repair facilities within their district and neighboring districts when called upon to conduct team inspections.
  • Inspects railroads for compliance with the hazardous materials regulations and assists in training railroad personnel to enhance compliance with federal regulations.
  • Conducts railroad accident investigations including train and/or railcar collisions, reportable derailments, Non-Accidental Releases (NAR) of hazardous materials, or other accidents/incidents resulting in serious injury to person(s) or to the property of a railroad occurring on the line of any common carrier engaged in interstate transportation.
  • Conducts in-depth Hazardous Materials Incident Investigations (HMII) to determine the root cause of an incident and the corrective and preventative actions that will prevent recurrence.

For more information, including job qualifications and other requirements, visit the job posting on the USAjobs.gov website.

Available jobs at FRA are listed here.

Applications for all FRA positions should be emailed to frajobs@dot.gov