Retail Supply Chain: Rail Labor Update

October 2022

On September 15, a tentative agreement was reached between the National Carriers' Conference Committee (railroads' negotiators) and the two largest rail labor unions, which was welcome news to retail supply chains. The membership of all 12 of the rail labor unions must still vote to accept/ratify the terms of the agreement.

This week, two more rail labor unions—NCFO and SMART-MD—voted to accept/ratify the tentative agreement reached between employers and unions last month. Five unions have yet to hold votes and will do so between now and November 17. The agreement has been accepted by six of the seven unions that have held votes to date.

On Monday, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED) of the Teamsters, the third-largest rail union, voted to reject the tentative agreement. Reports from the negotiating parties indicate that the failed vote had more to do with procedural/timing issues with localized components of the agreement, rather than substantive opposition to the contract terms as some media outlets have reported. BMWED remains in status quo state and will hold another vote in mid-November.

SMART-TD and BLET were the two unions that remained in negotiations down to the deadline last month; both are scheduled to vote on November 17.

RILA will continue to track this issue and share updates. Please reach out to Vice President, Supply Chain Jess Dankert for additional information.
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