The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division (BMWED) announced Wednesday that it will extend its so-called cooling-off period or “status quo” until Dec. 4 to sync with other rail labor organizations. The earliest potential for a rail strike is now Dec. 5 moving from what was as soon as Nov. 19. The U.S. rail network obviously moves critical agricultural inputs and significant quantities of agricultural products making the potential for a strike of great concern to farmers and ranchers. These essential items are transported by rail to domestic facilities and to ports for export abroad.
Railroads and rail labor had until September 16 to reach an agreement that would prevent a lockout or strike after the Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) published a proposed settlement on August 17. BMWED, the industry’s third-largest union, voted against ratifying its tentative agreement with freight carriers on Oct. 10. The move sent negotiators back to the bargaining table in hopes of reaching another compromise ahead of the November 19 deadline. Now, if the industry’s two largest unions — SMART Transportation Division and Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen — vote to ratify their tentative agreements, BMWED will shift its cooling-off deadline back to Dec. 4. That would match the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, which rejected a proposed contract in October. If the two largest unions vote not to ratify, BMWED will push to Dec. 9 to match them.
Given the importance of this issue, NEFB has issued an Action Alert to our members asking you to contact Nebraska’s Congressional Delegation asking them to intervene if an agreement cannot be reached.