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Railway Labor Agreement Derailed, Negotiators Return to Bargaining Table

October 13, 2022 9:00 AM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

The labor agreement between railways and workers’ unions may be in jeopardy.

Members of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division, part of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, representing nearly 23,000 railway workers, voted to reject a tentative agreement the two sides reached in September.

The Negotiations

There is no immediate threat of a strike. In a statement, the National Railway Labor Conference, which represents the railroads in the negotiations, said, “The parties have agreed to maintain the status quo as they discuss next steps. As such, the failed ratification does not present risk of an immediate service disruption.”

The unions involved in the labor dispute represent approximately 115,000 workers. So far, four labor organizations have ratified agreements to resolve the national bargaining round. Tentative agreements with seven other labor organizations remain subject to ratification, with votes scheduled before November 20.

  • The two largest labor groups, the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, Transportation union, which represents conductors, and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, which represents engineers, have not yet voted.


The tentative agreement announced in September included raises and bonuses for workers, and revised railroads’ rigid attendance policies. The BMWED’s rejection of the deal was, reportedly, not based on refusal of the financial terms, but anger at management’s policies regarding work schedules and other issues.

“The majority of the BMWED membership rejected the tentative national agreement and we recognize and understand that result,” says Tony D. Cardwell, union president. “I trust that railroad management understands that sentiment as well.

“Railroaders are discouraged and upset with working conditions and compensation and hold their employer in low regard. Railroaders do not feel valued. They resent the fact that management holds no regard for their quality of life, illustrated by their stubborn reluctance to provide a higher quantity of paid time off, especially for sickness.”

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