Another railroad union rejected the recent labor deal put forth by the Biden administration, raising the overall chance of sparking a railroad worker strike nationwide.
The Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS) carried out a vote which resulted in an overwhelming rejection of the labor deal, the union reps stated via a Wednesday release. This particular union represents a group of over 6,000 total railroad workers and is now the second of the major rail unions to deny the recent deal, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division of the Teamsters rejected the deal earlier this month. The pair of unions turning down this deal further increases the overall likelihood that all of the unions could go on strike just before the peak of the holiday season.
“For the first time that I can remember, the BRS members voted not to ratify a National Agreement, and with the highest participation rate in BRS history,” expressed Michael Baldwin, the union’s president, in a release posted to the website of the union.
“I have expressed my disappointment throughout the process in the lack of good-faith bargaining on the part of the [National Carriers’ Conference Committee], as well as the part [the Presidential Emergency Board] played in denying BRS members the basic right of paid time off for illness. The NCCC and PEB also both failed to recognize the safety-sensitive and highly stressful job BRS members perform each day to keep the railroad running and supply chain flowing,” Baldwin went on. “Without Signalmen, the roadways and railroad crossings would be unsafe for the traveling public, and they shoulder that heavy burden each day. Additionally, the highest offices at each Carrier, as well as their stockholders, seem to forget that the rank-and-file of their employees continued to perform their job each day through an unprecedented pandemic, while the executives worked from home to keep their families safe.”
All 6,339 of the union members were mailed out ballots. Of the 4,639 sent back by the members, a strong majority, 60.57%, place their vote against ratifying the agreement with a small 39.23% of members voted to approve the deal.
The deal itself included a cap and a freeze on the healthcare plans for the workers with no negative changes, a compounded 24% pay raise, and an agreement to kick off yet another round of negotiations concerning responsibility pay that the BRS has been attempting to finalize for over a decade. Without any agreement going into place, the union is slated to go back into a “status quo” period where it is slated to go back to talks with the railroad carriers, the statement claimed.