The major freight railroads appear unwilling to give track maintenance workers much more than they received in the initial contract they rejected last week, increasing the chances of a strike.
The railroads took the unusual step of issuing a statement late Wednesday rejecting the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division union’s latest request to add paid sick time on top of the 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses they received in the first five-year deal.
Union Pacific CEO Lance Fritz said Thursday that he thinks the main reason the BMWED rejected its initial contract last week was that the details of improved expense reimbursement in the deal were still being negotiated at Union Pacific while workers were voting. So it wasn’t clear exactly what those workers would receive for their travel expenses when they go on the road to repair tracks.
Six of the 12 railroad unions that represent 115,000 workers nationwide have approved their tentative agreements with the railroads so far, but all of them have to ratify their contracts to avoid a strike.
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