LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Railroad companies and their workers have reached a tentative agreement, regarding labor and wages, avoiding a National railroad.
“We were prepared to strike but we were relieved we didn’t have to strike,” said SMART Transportation Division Arkansas Legislative Director, Gerald Sale.
A national railroad strike avoided.
“Secretary of labor, head of The Department of Labor, and our leadership, national leadership and the carriers had an all-night meeting. I think it was over 20 hours they met together and came up with a tentative agreement to avoid a strike or a potential lock-out,” said Sale.
SMART Transportation Division represents about 125,000 active and retired railroad, bus and mass transit workers nationwide.
Sale said the issue was their workers did not have time off of work to take care of themselves or their families.
“We work on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. So, for our guys and gals to be able to take off to go to a doctor’s appointment or to attend a family funeral, or anything of that nature, they are really getting to the point now where they are risking their job,” stated Sale.
Sale said attendance policies have been put into place over the past couple of years.
“They have restricted and restricted over the years and it’s at the point where we are left with no choice but to work the amount of hours that truly is unsafe and unhealthy,” said Sale.
The national government even getting involved.
“The fact they brought in all parties and really didn’t try to bully one side or the other. Of course each side would hope they would take their side, but we understand that that is not always the case,” said Sale.
The National Labor Railway Conference announced a Presidential Emergency Board which includes a 24% wage increase during a 5-year period from 2020 to 2024.
There will also be a 14.1% wage increase effective immediately, and five annual $1,000 lump sum payments.
Sale said they are currently waiting to see what their national team says about the tentative agreement.