Railway workers reach tentative agreement with employers
Railway and port unions in negotiations
Two huge labor disputes, on the railroads and in the ports, threatened to re-entangle supply chains in the United States. A shutdown of the national rail system could cost $2 billion a day.
A contract for West Coast port workers expired in June, leaving open the possibility of a strike. Negotiations are continuing with the port workers’ union.
Previously, about 60,000 union members who worked for Union Pacific had to go on strike. Even though another 45,000 union members belong to unions that have reached tentative agreements with the railways, a strike by engineers and conductors would put the rail freight system, which carries almost 30% of the national freight, at risk. a sudden stop.
A prolonged strike could mean empty shelves in stores, temporary shutdowns in factories that don’t have the parts they need to operate, and higher prices due to the limited availability of various consumer goods.
Labor law for railway and airline employees is different from the law that governs labor relations for the vast majority of workers in the private sector. The Railway Labor Act allows Congress to keep workers on the job in the event of a strike or lockout of workers by management.
Unions say a shortage of workers has forced their members to be on call to report to work on short notice seven days a week, even on days they are not supposed to work. Railway management said the Presidential Emergency Council had considered and “expressly rejected” the union’s requests for timetables.
Supply chain concerns
Some freight carriers have started limiting services, suspending shipments of hazardous materials and parking trains in what appears to be preparations for a lockdown. Amtrak, which carries passengers on freight lines, canceled some long-distance routes on Monday.
A nationwide railroad strike could derail critical deliveries of chlorine to sewage treatment plants and coal to utility plants, among other potentially crippling disruptions, prompting top White House aides on Tuesday to consider options emergency to protect the country’s drinking water and energy supply. White House aides were seeking to ensure that essential goods transported by rail, such as food, energy and essential health products, could still reach their final destination even in the event of a potential strike.
The biggest issues holding up a deal include points-based attendance policies that penalize workers, until they are fired, for attending routine medical visits or attending family emergencies. Conductors and engineers reported not receiving a single sick day, paid or unpaid. The National Carriers Conference Committee, which represents the railroads in negotiations, has denied that workers do not receive sick leave.
President Joe Biden has been in direct contact with unions and railroads to try to avoid a potential strike that is already disrupting freight and passenger service across the country, according to a White House official.
Labor Secretary Marty Walsh participated in negotiations last week between the parties and the National Mediation Board. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack also worked with the parties to find a solution.
The Railway Labor Act creates federal jurisdiction
Under the Railway Labor Act, federal jurisdiction may exist over a seemingly minor disciplinary matter if the discipline was allegedly based on anti-union animosity. In a recent court case, a union discriminated when an offsite fight resulted in the suspension of members of its management, but not a pro-railroad member, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals of the States has ruled. -United.
Nurses and teachers strike
About 15,000 nurses in Minnesota went on strike Monday morning, saying they were fighting for better staffing and better care for their patients. The strike is against 13 hospitals and is expected to last three days. The union says the strike is not about wages, but about letting members provide the quality of care they want patients to receive.
Meanwhile, Seattle teachers went on strike for at least four days. The Seattle Education Association on Tuesday reached a tentative agreement with Seattle Public Schools to end the strike. Some of the most significant issues that prevented a contractual agreement from being reached were manageable workloads, increased salaries, increased mental health support for students, and reduced teacher-student ratios in programs. special education and multilingual.