Rail strike possible again; new deadline Nov. 19 for renegotiation

Published: Oct. 18, 2022 at 6:11 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Last month, there were fears of a possible rail worker strike as unions were asking railroad companies for better working conditions, time off concessions and wages. Some smaller unions have now ratified their agreements, but other bigger ones have rejected the offer reigniting the possibility of a strike.

Unions are sounding the alarm on their demands for contract negotiations. The major point some unions want to get across is more sick days.

”We think we should be able to be compensated for being sick. So, we don’t have to bring our illness to work with us,” said Deven Mantz, ND legislative director for the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division.

The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division voted against the proposed contracts last month. Now the union is giving rail companies until November 19 to renegotiate.

”I wasn’t surprised when ours came as not ratified, our members are upset, they want more,” said Mantz.

Senator John Hoeven said in a statement: “The possibility of a rail strike is a real threat to the economic security of our nation. A situation that was not helped by the Biden administration prematurely declaring victory.” He “urges all parties to negotiate in good faith, reach agreement and advert such a harmful outcome.”

”Unions ideally will get this done outside of a strike all the time and that is what we are looking for,” said Mantz.

There are a total of 12 railway unions that represent 115,000 employees. BNSF employs 35,000 workers.