US weekly update

Paid sick leave in the US: CSX keeps signing deals with workers

Image: Mark Levisay

US railroad company CSX has reached another agreement to provide more of its workforce with paid sick leave. The latest deal was struck with additional divisions of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) and the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen (BRC).

These two new deals are added to four more achieved over the last couple of weeks. When it comes to IAM, the section included in this pact is the IAM Roadway Mechanics, whereas for the BRC it includes the BRC Carmen for Fruit Growers Express Company. “Both organizations represent employees who support CSX mechanical operations”, the company added.

The total agreements found by CSX goes up to six

As mentioned before, CSX has now implemented paid sick leave for its employees affiliated with six union sections. The first two agreements involved around 5,000 CSX workers from the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees and the BRC. On 10 February, another deal was done with CSX employees that are members of a section of the IAM and the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers (NCFO).

This IAM section represents railroad machinists, while NCFO represents the company’s utility workers. Last week, CSX implemented the same agreement for 5,000 of its employees affiliated with the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way and the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen unions. IAM pointed out that 700 CSX employees are part of this union, but it still is unclear how many are affiliated with NCFO. In addition, the number of CSX employees who signed the latest deal is not publicly available.

Moreover, in December, CSX announced that all employees would no longer be penalised for unscheduled absences for doctor’s visits. The company’s old policy, in fact, o entailed a points-based attendance system. In other words, workers are penalized with points for unscheduled absences, and risk being suspended or fired. Joe Hinrichs, CEO of CSX stated that “we will continue to work with labor organizations to improve the employee experience at CSX”.

Rail workers VS US Government: a quick recap

Negotiations for a new collective agreement between the rail industry and the workers’ unions have started in 2019. Since September, however, the situation has precipitated and led to the US government blocking a nationwide strike. On 15 September, in fact, US President Joe Biden proposed a new agreement that included a 24 per cent wage increase over the next five years. On the other hand, the workers were asking for 15 days of paid sick leave per year.

Four unions out of twelve rejected Biden’s proposal and were threatening to go on indefinite strikes on 5 and 9 December. Negotiations kept on going poorly and a strike seemed behind the corner until US institutions intervened for the first time since 1991. The House of Representatives approved a bill to block the strike on 1 December. The very next day, the bill was signed off by the Senate and turned into law by President Biden.

Senator Bernie Sanders tried to intercede, submitting an amendment that included seven days of paid sick leave. The amendment was approved by the House but did not reach the majority needed in the Senate. In addition, in December, shareholders in two US railway companies demanded to implement paid sick leave as a standard perennial benefit. During a press conference last week, Senator Sanders said he had sent a letter to the major US rail companies urging them to implement paid sick leave. If the companies claim they cannot afford such a policy, Sanders is ready to summon them and testify in front of the US Senate.

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Author: Marco Raimondi

Marco Raimondi is an editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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