Boilermakers Become Third Union to Reject Class I Contract

By Justin Franz 

WASHINGTON — For the third time in a month, a railroad union has rejected a contract put forward by six of the seven Class I railroads — once again increasing the likelihood of a strike or lockout before the end of the year. 

This week, members of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers — a small group representing about 300 locomotive mechanics — did not take a deal negotiated by their leadership. Last month, members of the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees also rejected agreements that had been hashed out back in September with the National Carriers Conference Committee, which represents the five U.S. Class Is plus Canadian National’s operations south of the border. Those two unions have entered into an extended “cooling period” where their leaders are again meeting with representatives of the Class I railroads. However, the Class Is have already said they don’t plan on offering more than they already have. Once that cooling period ends on December 4, labor could go on strike or management could lock employees out. 

In September, the nation’s freight rail network was just hours away from a strike or lockout. However, at the 11th hour, federal officials helped negotiate a Tentative Agreement that included pay raises. But in the days and weeks since, it appears many railroaders are not happy with it because it doesn’t do enough to address concerns about work-life balance. The real test of the Tentative Agreements will come next week when the two largest unions, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen and SMART Transportation Division, tally their votes. 

This article was posted on: November 17, 2022