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November Rail Strike Averted, BMWED Union Date Extended to December

Mary Kennedy
By  Mary Kennedy , DTN Basis Analyst
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A November rail strike date has been avoided as the BMWED union announced they will extend their status-quo date to match the railroad signalmen's union date. (DTN file photo)

MINNEAPOLIS (DTN) -- A possible rail strike deadline brewing for 12:01 a.m. Nov. 20 has been extended into early December, meaning there will not be a rail strike in November.

After voting no to the tentative rail contract agreement (TA), the status quo period of business as usual for the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED) would have expired on Nov. 19, setting in motion the possibility of a rail strike. The Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS) announced their members had also rejected the TA, with their status quo ending date on Dec. 4.

On Nov. 9, the BMWED announced on their website they will extend their status quo date to match the BRS, and should either of the largest two unions, who are still voting, vote no as well, then the status quo of the BMWED and BRS could be extended once again.

"The railroads continue to reject all BMWED and BRS proposals for paid sick leave. There are reports indicating the railroads intend to begin ceasing various rail operations within the next few days, in anticipation of a strike on Nov. 20, even though in September they did not start taking such action until five days before the date of potential exercise of self-help," noted the BMWED press release. "These service shutdowns would be a premature exercise of self-help by the railroads and a violation of their common carrier obligations to provide services to their customers. These shutdowns would also represent a blatant attempt to cause panic and economic harm to the railroads' customers and the U.S. economy right before the Thanksgiving holiday."

BMWED also noted service shutdowns would be "a manipulative attempt" to instigate Congress to intervene against the interests of railroad workers. "The railroad workers are not the problem here and are not to blame for the current situation. The American public and the railroads' customers deserve better. They cannot be held hostage to protect the immense wealth of the railroads' greedy executives and shareholders."

The National Carriers' Conference Committee (NCCC) said in a news release on their website, "The railroads will remain engaged with BMWED throughout the extended cooling-off period and will continue to seek an agreement based on the framework recommended by Presidential Emergency Board 250. Agreements based on the PEB's recommendations were endorsed by President Biden as a 'win for tens of thousands of rail workers' and have been ratified by the members of seven other unions."

NCCC added, "Three unions have open ratification votes, and the cooling-off period extension announced today will allow the members of these unions to complete their voting without disruption from the threat of a strike.

Here is a link to the BMWED press release:…

Link to DTN's latest story about the rail contract issue:…

National Railway Labor Conference website:…

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