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Next up for US unions: Major contracts for 700,000 workers

By Admin

Reported by Chris Isidore for CNN.

The 11th hour deal that prevented a crippling strike at the nation’s freight railroads is the biggest win for US unions in years.

The agreement, reached in the early hours Thursday, kept more than 50,000 engineers and conductors on the job, and won members the changes in work rules sought by their leadership. They also got an immediate 14% raise, backpay dating to 2020 and raises totaling 24% over the five-year life of the contracts.

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Opinion: Distinguished pol of the week: He helped fend off a crippling strike

By Admin

Opinion by Jennifer Rubin for The Washington Post.

As a former labor lawyer, I can attest that when heading into the final hours of a labor negotiation, after months if not years of haggling, both parties can be frustrated, tired and angry. The intervention of a third-party mediator can therefore be critical to avoid a work stoppage.

In the case of the averted railway workers strike this week, that role was played by Labor Secretary Marty Walsh.

By all accounts, Walsh and his deputy Julie Su made a huge difference, helping to facilitate the final 20 hours of talks.

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‘Could have gone either way’: Railroad union deal barely survived

By Admin

Reported by Ben White and Eleanor Mueller for Politico.

President Joe Biden narrowly avoided an economic and political debacle on Thursday as senior administration officials helped salvage a tentative, last-minute deal to avert a devastating railroad strike.

And it almost didn’t happen.

Steering clear of disaster required some 20 straight hours of talks beginning Wednesday that taxed Labor Department coffee supplies, kept West Wing office lights burning through the early hours and left everyone involved bleary-eyed and largely sleepless.

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A US Freight Rail Crisis Threatens More Supply Chain Chaos

By Admin

Reported by Caitlin Harrington for Wired.

EARLY THIS SUMMER, farmers worried that millions of chickens in California’s Central Valley might soon peck each other to death. The birds were running perilously low on feed, which should have been delivered by Union Pacific Railroad from Midwestern corn producers. Foster Farms needed at least nine trainloads of corn each month to feed its tens of millions of chickens and turkeys, plus tens of thousands of dairy cows at its California facilities. But the trains weren’t showing up. Chickens can’t go long without eating—they become aggressive and turn to cannibalism—and if the feed didn’t arrive soon, the mega-flock would have to be euthanized.

Executives at Foster Farms began behaving like, well, chickens with their heads cut off. “Your failure to deliver is about to kill millions of chickens,” one incensed vice president at the company emailed a director at Union Pacific. “These dead animals will have to be picked up in dump trucks and taken to the local dumps. This is going to be an animal disaster, [and an] economic and media nightmare.”

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Bus drivers, flight attendants say they’re feeling less safe

By Admin

Reported by Colin Staub for NW Labor Press.

“If it moves, we represent the people who build, operate and maintain it.” That’s how AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department President Greg Regan describes his member unions. Transportation Trades Department is a national coalition of 37 unions that represent workers across all modes of transportation, including pilots, flight attendants, ground crew, air traffic controllers, freight and passenger rail workers, longshoremen, and maritime workers.

Regan, 38, was elected to lead it in 2021 after five years on Capitol Hill and 10 years at AFL-CIO headquarters working his way up in the Transportation Trades. Transportation Trades is one of six AFL-CIO trades departments.

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Rail union leaders warn: Corporate greed will delay your holiday gifts, again

By Admin

Reported by Mark Gruenberg for People’s World.

Crunch. And a shortage of everything. That’s the warning rail union leaders are sending to consumers as the nation approaches the holiday season.

Expect, they said, a repeat of last year’s fiasco, where gifts were delayed for weeks or months as cargo ships backed up outside the Port of Los Angeles-Long Beach, the major import point for containers of toys, clothes, gadgets, games—or anything else arriving from Asia.

It wasn’t just because the ports themselves had problems. It was because the nation’s supply chain onshore, and especially its railroads, had virtually broken down.

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President Emergency Board Releases Railway Industry Recommendations

By Admin

America’s Work Force Union Podcast.

AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department President Greg Regan joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast and provided an update on the impasse reached by major railroads and their unions that had been turned over for moderation by President Biden’s Presidential Emergency Board.

The board released its recommendations, which the unions are currently reviewing, Regan said. He stressed that neither side is getting what they wanted, but compromises have been suggested. He also talked about how the freight railroad industry is massively underperforming and failing to meet the needs of the nation and how the low number of railway workers has contributed to the problem.

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Railroads should raise pay 24%, White House labor board proposes

By Admin

Reported by Sarah Zimmerman for Supply Chain Dive.

A labor dispute board appointed by the Biden administration proposed railroads raise wages by 24% over the course of a five-year contract, a major step toward resolving a negotiation stalemate that carriers say has made it harder to retain workers and address service declines.

The Presidential Emergency Board released its recommendations Wednesday for a proposed contract that would address issues related to wages, healthcare and other benefits. Workers have gone without a raise since 2019 as negotiations have dragged on, and the Board noted that railroads and unions were more than $9 billion apart in their proposals.

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‘Current State of Freight Rail Is Not Great’: STB Chair

By Admin

Reported by Kari Hamanaka for Sourcing Journal.

Surface Transportation Board (STB) chair Marty Oberman didn’t sound optimistic Friday about the state of rail , but vowed the STB is doing what it can to right mounting railroad congestion issues.

“We’re using every tool that we have available at the board to oversee this and to hold the railroads accountable,” Oberman said Friday during a rail-focused roundtable organized by the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO union that also included several port and rail labor leaders.

The STB is the federal agency that regulates mostly freight rail , but ultimately has reach across all modes of surface transportation.

“Despite the hard work of our nation’s dedicated rail and port workers, there is a looming cargo logjam just as retailers are gearing up for a busy holiday season,” Transportation Trades Department president Greg Regan said during the roundtable.

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Los Angeles, Long Beach Ports Hail Supply Chain Progress

By Admin

Reported by Donna Littlejohn for Los Angeles Daily News, reposted in Transport Topics.

In January, a record 109 ships awaited entry into the combined ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, often stretching to south Orange County.

It marked a peak in the supply chain congestion that has bedeviled the nation’s two busiest ports during much of the pandemic.

On Aug. 11, that number stood at nine ships.

“Just amazing,” Port of L.A. Executive Director Gene Seroka said about the decline.

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