Oct 26, 2022 - Economy

Second rail union rejects Biden-brokered labor deal

Illustration of a fist emerging from locomotive steam.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

A union representing nearly 6,000 railroad workers voted down a tentative contract agreement with freight railroad companies Wednesday brokered by the White House last month.

The big picture: The rejection from the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS) could mean a nationwide rail strike just in time for the holidays, potentially devastating the economy.

By the numbers: About 4,639 or 73% of members participated in the vote with 2,810 or 60.57% against the proposed deal and 1,820 or 39.23% for it per the union.

Thought bubble, via Axios' Emily Peck: This is the second union out of 12 that voted no on the contract and certainly a worrying sign for the state of the agreement.

What they're saying: "For the first time that I can remember, the BRS members voted not to ratify a National Agreement, and with the highest participation rate in BRS history," union president Michael Baldwin said in a statement.

The other side: "We are disappointed that the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS) has failed to ratify the recent tentative agreement with the nation’s freight railroads, delaying the benefits of the tentative agreement for BRS-represented employees and further extending the resolution of the bargaining round with BRS," the National Carriers’ Conference Committee said in a statement.

Catch up quick: The railroads and their 12 unions have been negotiating a new contract for more than two years, Axios' Emily Peck reports.

  • Last month, the Biden administration brokered a deal, which the unions are now voting on. Six voted yes.
  • The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division of the Teamsters voted no earlier this month, seeking a better deal.
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