According to NGFA, two rail labor unions have rejected a proposed agreement reached between union and railroad negotiating parties in September, pushing a potential strike date to mid-November.

Railroads and rail worker union representatives announced on Sept. 15 that they had reached a preliminary agreement just in time to avert a nationwide rail shutdown. The tentative agreement implemented the recommendations of the Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) established by President Biden earlier this year.

Both the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes (BMWED) and the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS) have voted against the deal. They have agreed to not strike until five days after Congress reconvenes. If Congress reconvenes on Nov. 14, as currently scheduled, then a strike could occur after Nov. 19.

“Railroaders are discouraged and upset with working conditions and compensation and hold their employer in low regard,” said BMWED President Tony Cardwell in an Oct. 10 statement.

“The result of this vote indicates that there is a lot of work to do to establish goodwill and improve the morale that has been broken by the railroads’ executives and Wall Street hedge fund managers.”

Six of the 12 unions have agreed to ratify the deal, while four unions have not finished voting. All 12 unions will need to ratify the agreement to prevent a strike. If another agreement is not reached before Nov. 19, Congress must act to prevent a potential stoppage. NGFA and a large coalition of business associations are asking the Biden administration to reengage in the negotiations.

Meanwhile, the National Railway Labor Conference, which represents rail carriers, issued a press release indicating they are not interested in moving beyond the recommendations of the PEB. “The PEB’s recommendations were crafted by a panel of experts…They remain the framework for agreements with BRS and all other labor organizations in national bargaining.”