Rail Labor Negotiators Making Steady Progress

Agreements have been reached with all but three of the unions involved, the Association of American Railroads reported.

Steady progress has been made toward averting a possible national freight railroad shutdown as negotiations between the railroads and 11 labor unions continue. The Association of American Railroads reported Nov. 17 that tentative agreements have been achieved with four more unions representing more than 11,000 employees: the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Blacksmiths, Iron Ship Builders, Forgers and Helpers; the Sheet Metal Workers' International Association; the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers; and the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen.

The railroads now have in place 10 agreements covering more than 60 percent of the 132,000 employees in this bargaining round, with agreements including the United Transportation Union and its Yardmasters Department, the Brotherhood Railway Carmen, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the Transportation Communications International Union, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

All of the tentative agreements meet the recommendations laid out by a Presidential Emergency Board appointed by President Obama. The railroads are trying to rein in health care costs, but agreement details are not being released pending ratification votes by union members.

Three unions have not reached voluntary settlements during this 30-day cooling off period, which ends Dec. 6.

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