Soy Transportation Coalition urges resolution to railroad contract dispute
The Soy Transportation Coalition on Wednesday urged the National Carriers’ Conference Committee – representing the nation’s leading railroads – and a collection of unions representing 115,000 railroad workers to consider recommendations made by the Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) to resolve a contract dispute between the railroads and the unions.
President Biden appointed the PEB on July 15 to develop a set of non-binding recommendations to the two parties by Aug. 16. The two parties now have 30 days – concluding on Sept. 16 – to accept the recommendations or arrive at a different agreement. Prior to Sept. 16, any strike or lockout is prohibited by law. However, if an agreement is not achieved, a strike or lockout after Sept. 16 is possible, the Soy Transportation Coalition said.
Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition, said in a news release, “The recommendations of the PEB will hopefully stimulate productive discussions between the two parties and result in a contract that benefits railroads, railroad workers, and the customers that depend upon them. Agricultural shippers have been frustrated with unreliable rail service over the past one-two years. Against this backdrop, it is imperative that both railroads and rail workers come to an agreement over the next 30 days so that rail service can improve, rather than decline. It is never a good time for rail service to become less reliable, but it would particularly be an inopportune time given the upcoming harvest and overall global food insecurity. America’s soybean farmers are up to the task of providing food for domestic and international customers. We need railroads and rail workers to be reliable and effective partners in this effort.”
Steenhoek explained, “The PEB recommended a 24% wage increase for railroad workers over five years. This compares with the railroads’ proposed 17% wage increase over five years and the unions’ proposed 31.3% increase over five years. The PEB recommends ‘service recognition bonuses’ of $1,000 per year for 2020 through 2024. The recommendations also include adjustments to health care premiums.”
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