Not all aboard: Major rail union rejects deal, renewing risk of strike

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – The chances of a nationwide railroad strike are looming again after the third-largest railroad union rejected a five-year contract with freight railroad companies.  

Jakob Forsgren, the chairman of the local lodge of the Brotherhood of Maintenance-Way Employes Division, said his biggest fear is that workers will start to quit if the negotiations do not pay off.

“If members and workers quit,” he said, “the supply issues we’ve seen are going to be a drop in the bucket compared to what they could be.”  

The new contract was made in September, after the White House urged railroads and unions to find a solution to prevent a strike.

Fifty-six percent of workers represented by the union rejected the deal even though it called for wage increases and bonuses. 

Forsgren says the clashing point was that the contract didn’t address their concerns for sick leave. 

“We worked through a pandemic and are still being told that sick leave is not something that we are going to get,” he said. 

Forsgren assumes that negotiations will start again immediately. 

The union members are now in a cooling-off period. which ends five days after Congress reconvenes in mid-November. 

If there is no deal by Nov. 19, railroad maintenance workers could go on strike. 

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