The national union representing locomotive engineers plans to ask its members to authorize a strike against the country’s freight railroads.
The Brotherhood of locomotive and train engineers was released from mediation with freight railroads on June 17 by the National Mediation Board, resulting in a 30-day “cooling off period” ending on July 18.
Union officials said in a statement that BLE&T’s national chief general held a conference call with other union general chiefs on Wednesday to prepare for union ballot members to hold a strike, if necessary.
While this is the parent union of local BLE&T that took functional action against NJ Transit on Friday that resulted in train cancellations, the two cases involve different contracts and rail lines. Don’t panic, New Jersey Transit passengers, your trains are unaffected by this.
Local NJ Transit BLE&T protest against not receiving the Juneteenth holiday celebrated by state employees on Friday. The holiday has been extended to 14 other New Jersey Transit rail unions that have agreed new contracts with the agency. The holiday is not offered to BLE&T members because they are still covered by an existing old contract.
NJ Transit has obtained a temporary court order banning any job actions or slowdowns to protest the state of contract talks. The two sides are scheduled to hold a case conference call with Federal Court officials on July 5.
BLE&T National is part of a coalition of twelve railroad unions representing 140,000 rail employees. The Alliance of Unions has been negotiating for two years with a rail freight conference, representing the country’s largest Class A railroad, Union Pacific, BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern, Kansas City Southern and other rail companies.
A spokesperson for Norfolk Southern referred questions to the National Rail Workers Conference, which was not immediately available for a response on Wednesday night.
A possible step that could happen is that President Joe Biden could appoint the chairman of the emergency board to hear the arguments of business and management and make a non-binding recommendation for a new contract. PEB will halt union strikes or shutdown management, according to BLE&T.
“While we expect President Biden to appoint a Presidential Emergency Council near the deadline, we must be prepared for all eventualities,” Pierce said. “The vote to strike is an opportunity for all BLET members to deliver a unified message to carriers that we deserve significant pay increases that recognize the essential contributions we make to their ongoing record profits.”
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Larry Higgs can be reached at [email protected]emedia.com.