INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, November 30 — On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed two bills related to contract negotiations with the nation’s freight carriers. House Joint Resolution 100 was approved with a vote of 290 in favor, 137 opposed. This bill pertains only to the four rail unions whose members rejected tentative agreements reached in September. The legislation imposes the terms and conditions of the tentative agreements reached by SMART TD, BMWED, BRS and IBB, but not ratified by their membership.
The second bill passed today, House Concurrent Resolution 119, was approved by a vote of 221 in favor, 207 opposed. This bill provides seven days of paid sick leave for ALL unionized rail workers working at Class I railroads.
While the exact timing was unknown, it was long-expected by many that Congress would intervene prior to December 9, the end of the current cooling-off period for the four unions without agreements, to both avert a national rail strike and avoid harm to the nation’s supply chain.
“Rail contract battles and the related lobbying campaigns are more of a marathon than a sprint due to the legal powers granted to Congress and the White House,” said BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce.
Rail Labor, with the Unions whose members did not ratify their tentative agreements taking the lead, has been lobbying the Hill and educating the public about the need for paid sick leave for railroaders for months. BLET has worked in concert with those Unions, the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. IBT General President Sean O’Brien has personally been involved and hundreds of Teamster union lobbyists have descended on Capitol Hill on lobbying days, joining BLET’s own lobbying team.
“BLET’s efforts to bring light to rail worker issues and concerns did not stop when our agreement ratified. Today’s vote in the House made it clear that labor’s legislative outreach efforts are now paying-off,” said Pierce. “It’s significant that the legislation passed by the House today provides paid sick leave to ALL union represented rail workers, including those rail workers who have already ratified agreements. Today’s vote in Congress validates that paid sick leave should be included in our contracts and it’s now on to the Senate. BLET and our labor allies will do everything possible to move this legislation there.”