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Intend to end railroad contract dispute demands 24% raises

OMAHA, Neb. — The special board appointed by President Joe Biden to intervene in stalled railroad contract talks suggested Tuesday that 115,000 rail workers should get 24% raises and thousands in bonuses within a fresh agreement to avert a strike.

Railroads and unions use those recommendations because the basis for a fresh round of negotiations on the the following month. It remains to be observed, however, whether railroads will consent to the bigger wages or find methods to address union concerns about working conditions.

If both sides can’t acknowledge a fresh deal by mid September, federal law allows a strike or lockout. But Congress will probably intervene before then to help keep the supply chain moving.

A railroad strike could devastate businesses that depend on Union Pacific, BNSF, Norfolk Southern, CSX along with other major freight railroads to provide recycleables and ship their products. In past national rail labor disputes, lawmakers have voted to impose terms on the railroads before workers could strike.

A White House official said Biden is optimistic the report provides an excellent framework for successful negotiations because avoiding a rail shutdown is in the country’s interests.

The report was distributed to the parties Tuesday, and The Associated Press obtained a copy of it, however the railroads and the unions didnt immediately touch upon any details.

The railroads entered the Presidential Emergency Board process per month ago far in addition to the 12 unions engaging. The unions have already been seeking a 31% raise on the five years of the offer as the railroads were offering only 17% in compounded raises. The unions also don’t desire to see the expense of their healthcare coverage rise much in a fresh contract.

According the report, the board is recommending 24% wage increases and $5,000 in bonus payments on the life of the contract while adding one additional paid day off every year. The report also recommends keeping exactly the same basic medical health insurance plan but having employees undertake a more substantial share of the expenses through higher monthly premiums.

The board says it believes workers have entitlement to higher wages compared to the railroads have proposed due to current high inflation, tight labor markets and railroads’ strong profitability. The report also says that railroad work is becoming more demanding recently due to the pandemic and cost-cutting at the railroads.

Railroad workers have gone with out a raise since 2019 as the contract talks drug on. The workers be prepared to be compensated after staying face to face through the entire pandemic and enduring extensive job cuts recently. And strikes have grown to be more common during the last 2 yrs in a number of industries because unions generally feel empowered to require more.

The major freight railroads have eliminated nearly one-third of these jobs in the last six years because they overhauled their operations to perform fewer, longer trains that require fewer locomotives and employees. Unions say the railroads expect more from the workers who remain, and that some railroads’ tightened attendance policies ensure it is hard to devote some time off due to all of the job cuts.

Along with disagreements over wages and benefits, unions have staunchly opposed a proposal from the railroads to cut the amount of workers in a locomotive from two to 1. A fresh proposed federal rule that could require two-person crews more often than not should ensure it is harder for railroads to lessen crew sizes, however the railroads have already been pressing for the change for quite some time. The unions argue that keeping two different people on the crews isn’t only about preserving jobs, but additionally ensuring safety.

Reaching a fresh agreement may likely ensure it is easier for railroads to employ new employees, that they acknowledge they have to do to boost service and lessen the delays which have plagued freight shipments this season. The major freight railroads have all said they would like to hire hundreds more workers, but worker shortages are making that difficult.

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