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A third union on Monday rejected its work contract with the railroad, raising fears the nation could face a railroad strike or lockout in December.
The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, which represents around 300 railway workers, has agreed to keep the service running until December 9 as part of a “cooling off” period. The union said it will continue to negotiate with the National Carriers’ Conference Committee, which represents the railroads in negotiations.
“The Boilermakers union expects to continue negotiating a satisfactory contract with the NCCC going forward,” the union said in a statement.
The rejection comes as the industry’s two largest unions are due to complete voting on their agreements on November 21. SMART-TD and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen represent half of all unionized rail workers, according to the NCCC.
Two other unions have so far voted to reject their agreements, calling on airlines to include paid sick leave in the contract. The railroads have fought back, saying they continue to negotiate under the Biden administration’s President’s Emergency Committee, which declined to include paid sick leave in its final recommendations.
A rail freight shutdown could come as soon as December 4 after the third largest union – Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, or BMWED – agreed to extend its cooling off period to coordinate schedules with the other union, which declined his approval. If either of the two largest unions reject their agreements, the reflection period will be further extended to December 9th.
BMWED does not plan to adjust its schedule despite the boilermakers’ vote, Peter Kennedy, who is in charge of the union’s strategic coordination and research, told Supply Chain Dive.
The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers did not immediately respond to a request for comment on vote distribution or whether the union will push for paid sick leave.