There will be no freight rail strike early Friday. But the threat of a strike has not completely disappeared.
The tentative agreement was reached early Thursday after a marathon 20-hour session between the leaders of the railroad and the engineers and drivers’ union, saying the strike that was supposed to begin at 12:01 a.m. Friday will not take place. But the deal still needs to be ratified by union members to take effect.
The details of the confirmation vote have yet to be determined, but are likely a few weeks away. Although union leadership has hailed the deal as a negotiating victory, a successful ratification vote is not yet assured.
Some union members criticized the deal on social media.
Union members working in other industries have recently refused to accept their own agreements, even when recommended by union leadership. While most union contracts are ratified, there have been some high-profile examples of angry union members voting no.
10,000 members of the United Auto Workers union at farm equipment maker John Deere went on strike last fall after rejecting a favorable interim agreement. That rejected offer included immediate raises of between 5% and 6% in his base salary, with salary increases that could increase his average salary by about 20% over six years later in the contract. And it had a cost-of-living adjustment that would give them extra pay based on inflation for other rates.
But 90% of Deere’s UAW members voted no and went on strike, then went on strike after a subsequent deal was rejected. They finally returned to work after five weeks, after a third vote on a similar package.
Workers at cereal maker Kellogg ( K ) also rejected the tentative deal and decided to go on strike in December before finally agreeing to a deal weeks later.
And only 50.3% of film production workers voted last fall in favor of a deal that achieved all of their union’s bargaining goals, a contract that averted a strike by 63,000 technicians, artisans and craftsmen that could have affected film, television and streaming production. shows the stoppage.
A smaller rail union has already voted to reject the tentative deal: the 5,000-member unit of the Machinists union, which works as mechanics for locomotive and train equipment and facility maintenance workers. But that union is not preparing to strike immediately and will instead try to find a new deal by the end of the month. Agreements reached with engineers and managers may influence these negotiations.
Thursday’s tentative deal for the rail deal gives engineers and conductors much of what they were asking for. It includes changes to work rules that forced more than 50,000 members of both unions to be “on call” and ready to report to work at short notice, seven days a week. It protects them from discipline or firing if they were unable to go to work because they were seeking medical attention or were hospitalized. Those organizing rules did not apply to more than 50,000 other railroad union members, and most of the remaining unions reached tentative agreements before Wednesday night.
The agreements give all unions an immediate 14% increase, and retroactive pay from 2020. The total salary increase over the five-year term of the contract was 24%, and it also provides bonuses of $1,000 in each of the five years. Combined with back pay and past bonuses, the average employee will receive a payout of $11,000 upon contract confirmation.