Biden, BLET, Burr, contract negotiations, CPUSA, inflation, PEB, Rail Embargo, Rail Unions, Rail worker strike, railroad strike, railroad worker salary, Railway Labor Act, Sanders, sick leave, SMART-TD, supply chain, SWP, US Congress, US Senate, wage increase, Wicker, work conditions
The US government gives the median (half above and half below) annual wage for railroad workers as $64,150 in May 2021. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Railroad Workers https://www.bls.gov/ooh/transportation-and-material-moving/railroad-occupations.htm )
While sick leave doesn’t seem unreasonable, the rail workers apparently get sick leave and the emergency board recommendations apparently include more. As usual Bernie Sanders is apparently misleading people on the facts. Shutting down the country in a massive strike apparently remains his dream.
The railroad owners are apparently greedy and gouging, but they should reduce their prices, so that prices go down for everyone.
UPDATE: A tentative agreement was reached, but must still be voted on by the unions. It’s still worth reading the information, below, and speeches to understand what is at stake: https://web.archive.org/web/20220915135740/https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/news/rail-strike-averted-after-white-house-brokers-e2-80-98tentative-e2-80-99-deal-e2-80-94here-e2-80-99s-what-you-need-to-know/ar-AA11QHjN
Republican Senators are supporting Biden’s recommendations, but the Dems have not! https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2022/09/15/republican-senators-burr-wicker-call-on-senate-to-immediately-pass-resolution-preventing-disastrous-rail-worker-strike-promise-to-bring-48-republican-votes-if-schumer-brings-it-to-the-floor-after-sa/
“President Emergency Board Report and Recommendations”: https://nmb.gov/NMB_Application/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/PEB-250-Report-and-Recommendations.pdf (Page 30 does describe the outrageous increase in profits made by the carriers and stocks, as well as huge executive compensation. The carriers should lower their prices, thus helping all Americans.)
The average salary, given below, by “RailLaborFacts” is apparently inaccurate and the sick leave may be as well. One article suggested that they may lose “points” for taking sick leave. The two unions (SMART-TD and BLET) state that “Penalizing engineers and conductors for getting sick or going to a doctor’s visit with termination must be stopped as part of this contract settlement. Let us repeat that, our members are being terminated for getting sick or for attending routine medical visits as we crawl our way out of worldwide pandemic” (11 Sept. 2022 news release). If that is the case, then they can probably can bring this before the Dept. of Labor or sue either under labor rights law, or for discrimination under the disabilities act, rather than holding the country hostage. Railroad conductors and engineers do need good health like airplane pilots. Being physically unfit for the job should be grounds for termination. Rail Labor Facts is by the National Railway Labor Conference, which apparently represents the railway owners in their negotiations with labor. Both sides appear to be trying to mislead people.
Notice that the “RailLaborFacts” says that they receive “up to”, but what do beginner workers receive? A 24.1% increase over 5 years would be $79,546, not $110,000. The wage, below, maybe for engineers? Or maybe they are doing an arithmetic average (mean) which includes executives in the average? Doing a mean average, which includes highly paid executives, would certainly increase the arithmetic average.
“Rail employees receive up to five weeks of vacation in addition to up to 14 paid holidays and/or paid leave days (all depending on craft and seniority). They also participate in a carrier-funded federal sickness benefit program, and many have access to other benefits under existing labor agreements. Operating craft employees also can “mark off” – or temporarily remove themselves from service – for any reason, as long as they maintain a reasonable level of overall availability under carrier attendance policies. Against this backdrop, it is simply untrue to assert that employees cannot take any time off to attend to things like preventative medical exams…
The PEB’s recommendations would increase wages by 24 percent during the five-year period from 2020 through 2024, with a 14.1 wage percent increase to be effective immediately. The recommendations also include $1,000 annual lump sum payments, adjustments to health care premiums, health benefit enhancements, and limited changes to work rules. A portion of the wage increases and lump sum payments would be retroactive, resulting in more than $11,000 on average in immediate payouts to employees.
These recommendations, if implemented, would include the most substantial wage increases in decades – with average rail worker wages reaching about $110,000 per year by the end of the agreement. When health care, retirement, and other benefits are considered, the value of rail employees’ total compensation package, which already ranks among the highest in the nation, would average about $160,000 per year.”https://web.archive.org/web/20220913202209/https://raillaborfacts.org/news/bargaining-status-faq-2022/
“SMART-TD, BLET Joint Statement on Rail Embargo
SEPTEMBER 11, 2022 | National Negotiations 2019, News, SMART-TD
Statement by Jeremy Ferguson, President, SMART Transportation Division
Dennis Pierce, President, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, Teamsters Rail Conference
Move announced by the nation’s largest railroads today to further abuse shippers and gridlock the supply chain in order to extort a contract settlement from rail unions
Late on Friday, September 9, the nation’s largest railroads began warning major shippers that they are declaring an embargo on certain types of new shipments five days in advance of the end of the federally mandated cooling-off period at 12:00 AM EDT September 16. They further advised that all rail shippers could be blocked from making any rail shipments well in advance of next Friday’s deadline for a lockout or strike. This completely unnecessary attack on rail shippers by these highly profitable Class I railroads is no more than corporate extortion. Our Unions remain at the bargaining table and have given the rail carriers a proposal that we would be willing to submit to our members for ratification, but it is the rail carriers that refuse to reach an acceptable agreement. In fact, it was abundantly clear from our negotiations over the past few days that the railroads show no intentions of reaching an agreement with our Unions, but they cannot legally lock out our members until the end of the cooling-off period. Instead, they are locking out their customers beginning on Monday and further harming the supply chain in an effort to provoke congressional action.
The railroads are using shippers, consumers, and the supply chain of our nation as pawns in an effort to get our Unions to cave into their contract demands knowing that our members would never accept them. Our Unions will not cave into these scare tactics, and Congress must not cave into what can only be described as corporate terrorism.
Rather than gridlock the supply chain by denying shipments and potentially locking our members out next Friday, the railroads should work towards a fair settlement that our members, their employees, would ratify. For that to happen, we must make improvements to the working conditions that have been on the bargaining table since negotiations began.
Penalizing engineers and conductors for getting sick or going to a doctor’s visit with termination must be stopped as part of this contract settlement. Let us repeat that, our members are being terminated for getting sick or for attending routine medical visits as we crawl our way out of worldwide pandemic.
No working-class American should be treated with this level of harassment in the workplace for simply becoming ill or going to a routine medical visit. Sadly, the Presidential Emergency Board recommendation got it wrong on this issue. As we have said from the day that they were implemented, these policies are destroying the lives of our members, who are the backbone of the railroad industry.
These employment policies have forced thousands of employees out of the industry and make it all but impossible to recruit new workers. With understaffed operations, these railroads abuse their best customers by refusing to provide deliveries consistent with their legal obligations. These self-appointed titans of industry complain constantly about government regulation and interference — except now when it comes to breaking the backs of their employees. It’s time for the federal government to tell the CEO’s who are running the nation’s railroads into the ground that enough is enough. Congress should stay out of the rail dispute and tell the railroads to do what other business leaders do — sit down and bargain a contract that your employees will accept.
The SMART Transportation Division is comprised of approximately 125,000 active and retired members of the former United Transportation Union, who work in a variety of crafts in the transportation industry.
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen represents nearly 57,000 professional locomotive engineers and trainmen throughout the United States. The BLET is the founding member of the Rail Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters.” https://web.archive.org/web/20220913145343/https://ble-t.org/news/smart-td-blet-joint-statement-on-rail-embargo/
“The two holdout unions — the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers Trainmen, or BLET, and the SMART Transportation Division, or SMART-TD, represent 57,000 engineers and conductors, who make up roughly half of all rail workers.
Approximately 4,900 rail workers with a third holdout union — the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) District 19 — turned down a deal with the NCCC and will strike in two weeks should an agreement not be reached with rail companies, the union said Wednesday.” https://web.archive.org/web/20220915004001/https://abcnews.go.com/Business/looming-railroad-strike-cripple-us-economy-transportation/story?id=89587287
The CPUSA apparently does NOT care about the unions anymore, if ever. CPUSA is apparently encouraging revolution in Europe over energy and promoting LBGT: https://web.archive.org/web/20220915080811/https://www.cpusa.org/
The SWP’s Militant has published an article by an Illinois SWP member and 2022 candidate for governor, who is also a member of the SMART-TD union: “Naomi Craine is a freight conductor and member of SMART-TD.” https://web.archive.org/web/20220912140610/https://themilitant.com/2022/09/10/build-solidarity-with-rail-workers-ingredion-strike-help-strengthen-expand-the-labor-movement/ Historically, the SWP infiltrated unions, as well as running their own candidates. The CPUSA only ran candidates in a few states and has tended to work within the Dem party.
Long ago Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was affiliated with the SWP, and, long after, they continued to act like he was their own in the Militant.
“Sanders blocks Senate measure to avert rail stoppage: Burr says Schumer could schedule floor vote for his joint resolution By Roll Call Staff Posted September 14, 2022 at 6:10pm
Sen. Bernie Sanders objected Wednesday to an effort to get unanimous Senate consent to a measure that would seek to avert a work stoppage in the freight rail industry that could begin as early as Friday….”https://rollcall.com/2022/09/14/sanders-blocks-senate-measure-to-avert-rail-stoppage/