In a first phase, some CSX railroaders will be paid for sick leave

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Several thousand workers at CSX will soon get one of the things that brought the U.S. railroad industry to the brink of a strike last fall: paid sick leave.

CSX announced Tuesday a settlement with two of its 12 unions, becoming the first major railroad company to offer this benefit that most US workers take for granted. .

About 4,000 track maintenance workers in the Brotherhood of Railway Employees Maintenance Division and another 1,000 mechanical workers in the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen union will receive four days of paid sick leave under the agreement. Employees can also convert three of their personal vacation days into sick leave.

Quality of life concerns over the lack of paid sick leave and demanding schedules that keep many railroad workers on call around the clock have dominated contract negotiations with all major rail companies in last fall. More than half of the approximately 115,000 railroad workers involved voted to reject five-year contracts that included 24% wage increases and $5,000 in bonuses over these concerns.

Ultimately, that contract was imposed on all workers at CSX, BNSF, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, and Kansas City Southern Railroads after Congress and President Joe Biden intervened to block a strike. due to concerns about the potential dire economic consequences.

Tuesday’s agreement is particularly welcome for railroad workers, who were left frustrated after the contract was imposed because the new contract did not solve many of their quality of life problems. Many workers say their jobs have become unbearable after more than a third of all rail jobs were eliminated over the past six years as the trains resumed operations.

“It’s a great cause because that’s what we’re fighting for,” said Matt Weaver, a BMWED member based in Toledo, Ohio. “Things are going in the right direction. We just want to keep the momentum going.”

CSX CEO Joe Hinrichs said the agreements demonstrate the railroad’s “commitment to listening to our railroad workers and working with their representatives to find solutions that improve the quality of life and their experience as employees.”

Jacksonville, Fla.-based CSX. and the other major railroads refused to offer paid sick leave last fall because they said unions had agreed for decades to give up paid sick leave in favor of big disability benefits for short time and higher pay. Railroad officials also said it was too late in the years of negotiations to work sick time into the agreement.

“This paid sick leave agreement with CSX is certainly welcome but long overdue,” said Greg Regan, president of the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Division Labor Coalition, which includes the -all major rail unions. “We look forward to other railroads making similar arrangements with CSX and other railroads to follow suit.”

All other rail freight companies have pledged to continue to negotiate with unions on ways to improve their quality of life. Tuesday’s announcement is the first significant outcome of those talks.

There have been a few other small signs of progress this year, including CSX announcing that workers will no longer be penalized for missing work at doctor’s appointments, and Union Pacific launching a small scheduling pilot that gives a number small number of regularly scheduled days off engineers.


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