Rail workers reject new contracts, reviving strike fears after Biden took credit for ending dispute

The union says issues about paid sick leave was a major factor in rejecting the contract offer.

Published: October 12, 2022 8:17am

Updated: October 12, 2022 10:31am

A major rail-worker union having rejected a Biden administration-backed labor contract has reignited concerns about a strike that could worsen the county's ongoing supply chain issues and fuel inflation that has already reached record highs, in part over a scarcity of goods. 

The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division of the Teamsters on Monday rejected the tentative contract in large part over a lack of paid sick days, union President Tony Cardell said.

The ongoing contract dispute with the freight railroad industry has largely been about compensation and working conditions.

BMWED represents about 12,000 rail workers, making it one of the largest and most powerful such union.

While the no vote will force the rail companies and labor unions back to the negotiating table, the workers cannot strike until after a so-called cooling-off period in late November, after the midterm elections, according to Politico.

Four unions have so far ratified the White House-backed contracts, while seven have votes pending on the deal. The eleven unions represent about 115,000 rail workers, according to ABC News

The two largest rail unions – the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers Trainmen and the SMART Transportation Division, which make up roughly half of all rail workers – are scheduled to finish voting in mid November, the news outlet also reports.

U.S. inflation it a record 40-year-high in June, largely the result of then-soaring gas prices.

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