Nov 14, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Third railroad union rejects Biden-brokered labor deal

freight train illustration

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Another railroad union on Monday voted down the labor agreement brokered by the White House in September.

Why it matters: The small International Brotherhood of Boilermakers union is the third of 12 rail unions to decline to ratify the agreement, raising the prospect of an economically devastating railroad strike during the holiday season.

  • In a statement IBB, which has around 300 members, said it "fully expects to continue negotiating further toward a satisfactory contract in the future..."
  • The union is now in a "cooling off" period until December 9 — and won't strike before that date.

Catch-up quick: The tentative agreement these unions are voting on now was brokered in a last-minute all-night negotiating session with the White House in September.

  • At the time, the administration celebrated the deal as a victory, heading off the prospect of a strike, which would be a big blow to supply chains still recovering from the chaos of the past couple of years.
  • If the unions fail to ratify this agreement, it's likely that Congress will step in and impose a contract, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh told CNN earlier this month.

What they're saying: "We're disappointed," the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC), which represents freight rail carriers in national collective bargaining, said in a statement that emphasized the small size of the IBB.

What to watch: The two biggest unions, representing half of the 100,000 rail workers subject to any deal, are set to announce their votes early next week.

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