On Monday, the largest railroad union, the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART-TD), representing the industry’s conductors, rejected a five-year contract agreement brokered by the White House in September. The contract was narrowly voted against by just 50.8% of workers.
In previous weeks, three smaller unions, including the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees (BMWED) and the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS), rejected their contracts and are also back in negotiations.
The nation’s second-largest rail union representing engineers, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), along with seven other unions, have voted for ratification of the labor deal.
A status quo contract is in place until December 8th. SMART-TD would be allowed to go on strike, or the rail carriers would be permitted to lock out workers beginning December 9th if an agreement is not reached. If any one union strikes, the other eleven unions will likely move in solidarity, causing an industry-wide work stoppage.
Under the Railway Labor Act of 1926, Congress can take action to avert a strike. If that happens, lawmakers would have a short window after Thanksgiving to step in to impose a contract.
Deringer will keep you updated regarding the status of negotiations and the impending strike or lockout.