By Adam Strunk
Unions representing some 115,000 railroad works will vote on accepting a tentative deal brokered by the Biden administration between union and railroad representation on future employee contracts.
Membership of some of the 12 unions involved were set to strike on Sept. 16, with railroad companies such as BNSF and Union Pacific unable to strike terms with requests for better sick leave, safety and time off policies made by the negotiating unions.
The newly brokered deal would have to be approved by the 12 negotiating unions with a vote by the membership to come Sept. 22. Rejection of the deal could trigger a strike.
BNSF represents a major employer in Harvey County and employs nearly 380 workers according to a 2022 list of county employers maintained by the Harvey County Economic Development Council.
Amtrak has suspended the operation of the Southwest Chief as negotiations take place to prepare for a possible strike. A strike would likely cripple the U.S. supply chain which relies heavily on rail freight for the transportation of goods.
The deal to be voted on requires two-person crews for a train and also allows for workers to take time off for medical visits and scheduled appointments without being penalized according to The Hill. It also includes 24 percent raises over a five-year period as well as back pay and cash bonuses.