Rail Teamsters and the IBT made a final push to win paid sick days as Congress prepares to vote to impose a tentative agreement covering 115,000 rail workers, including 48,000 Teamsters. UPDATE 12/1/22: The Senate has voted down the measure to provide 7 paid sick days to rail workers.
The Teamsters represent around 48,000 of the nation's 115,000 freight rail workers between the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division (BMWED) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET).
A tentative agreement was reached between the rail carriers and a dozen unions in September.
But the rank-and-file in several unions, including BMWED Teamsters, voted down the agreement. Two of the largest three unions rejected the contract.
Issues for members who rejected the contract included increased healthcare costs, scheduling, and paid sick days.
The tentative agreement included a 24% pay increase for workers, but no paid sick leave. Workers were seeking as many as 15 days.
Sick Day Showdown
Under the Railway Labor Act (RLA), Congress can impose the tentative agreement despite the No Vote by rail workers.
On Wednesday, the House voted on two bills:
- A bill to impose the tentative agreement reached between the unions and railroads in September
- A second bill to provide seven days of paid sick leave for union rail workers.
Politicians have no business imposing contracts and taking away workers’ right to strike. But the leaders in both parties are united on imposing the deal to avert a rail shutdown.
Until yesterday, Congress planned to just impose the contract with no added sick days. But a revolt led by the Congressional Progressive Caucus got the sick leave bill put on the floor.
Both of these measures passed the House. The Senate is expected to vote on them tomorrow. Sixty votes will be needed to pass the sick leave bill.
Senators from both parties have spoken in favor of the sick leave bill. But the vote in the Senate is hard to predict. It’s time to turn up the heat.
Take Action: Call Your Senator
Teamster General President Sean O’Brien is calling on Congress to approve the sick leave.
The BMWED is asking Teamster members to call their Senators and to urge them to vote to approve paid sick leave for all rail workers.
Rank-and-file Teamsters can take action to support rail workers in the fight for paid sick days.
Look up the senators for your state here: https://www.senate.gov/senators/senators-contact.htm
Fight Continues for Rail Teamsters
When the smoke from today’s votes fades, the fight will continue for rail workers who face increasingly grueling conditions on the job.
The rail carriers have slashed the workforce and increased the hours of the workers who remain under a system called Precision Scheduled Railroading.
The freight railroads have shed more than 20 percent of the maintenance-of-way jobs done by Teamsters in the past six years, and more than 50,000 rail jobs in total since the year 2000.
Today, the fight is to win seven paid sick days for Teamsters and other rail workers who will otherwise get only one.
Call your Senator and take action to support rail workers today.