Two unions representing railroad workers have reached tentative agreement with major U.S. railroads, averting the immediate threat of a national labor action.
The move relieves shippers' fear of an immediate labor strike or stoppage as early as next week that would have crippled shipping amid the peak holiday season. Agreements have been struck with 12 of the 13 railroad unions, most recently with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the American Train Dispatchers Association, which represent approximately 26,500 workers.
The agreements with the BLET and ATDA are locked in "well-above market wage increases of more than 20 percent over six years, far exceeding recent union settlements in other industries,” said A. Kenneth Gradia, chairman of the National Carriers’ Conference Committee.
The lone union holdout, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees, agreed this week to extend a cooling-off period until Feb. 8.
The rail industry is "committed to finalizing the remaining agreement so that we can continue to deliver for the tens of thousands of American businesses that rely on rail, and the hundreds of thousands of Americans who use passenger rail to commute to work every day," said Edward Hamberger, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads.