November 22, 2022


November 1, 2019: The current round of bargaining begins with the issuance of Section 6 Notices between the carriers and 12 unions stating what changes they plan to pursue.

February 1, 2022: Both parties file mediation applications with the National Mediation Board.

February – April 2022: Both parties request to be released from mediation multiple times, the NMB rejects those requests.

May 2022: The NMB calls parties together for a “super mediation” meeting for three weeks.

June 14, 2022: The NMB proffers binding arbitration.

June 16, 2022: Rail labor rejects the proffer for arbitration and, as required under the Railway Labor Act (RLA), a 30 day “cooling off” period begins before railroads or the unions may engage in “self-help”.

June 17, 2022: NMB serves notice that its services have been terminated under the RLA.

July 15, 2022: Before the self help period begins, President Biden signs an Executive Order exercising his powers under the Railway Labor Act and creating a Presidential Emergency Board of neutral arbitrators. The PEB delays the self help action.  

July 19, 2022: PEB meetings begin.

August 16, 2022: The PEB issues its recommendations under report No. 250. The PEB recommends wage increases by 24 percent during the five-year period from 2020 through 2024, with a 14.1 percent wage increase effective immediately. The recommendations also include five annual $1,000 lump sum payments, adjustments to health care premiums, and limited changes to work rules. A portion of the wage increases and lump sum payments would be retroactive, resulting in more than $11,000 on average in immediate payouts to employees. These recommendations would include the most substantial wage increases in decades – with average rail worker wages reaching about $110,000 per year by the end of the agreement. When health care, retirement, and other benefits are considered, the value of rail employees’ total compensation package, which already ranks among the highest in the nation, would average more than $150,000 per year. The issuance of the PEB recommendations triggers an additional 30 day “cooling off” period under the RLA to allow parties to negotiate over adoption of the recommendations.

August 29, 2022 – September 14, 2022: Tentative agreements reached with nine of the 12 rail unions following the recommendations issued under PEB 250.

September 15, 2022: The NRLC reaches tentative agreements (TA) with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters; the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers – Transportation Division; and the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen. Together, the three unions represent approximately 60,000 railroad employees. The TAs follow the August 16 recommendations of PEB No. 250, which include a 24 percent wage increase during the five-year period from 2020 through 2024 — with a 14.1 percent wage increase effective immediately — and five annual $1,000 lump sum payments. Significantly, these tentative agreements avert a possible work stoppage on Friday, September 16. Reaching these tentative agreements starts a new “status quo” period where no strike or lockout will commence to allow time to ratify the TA by the 12 unions’ memberships.

September 28, 2022: International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers ratifies the tentative agreement.

October 4, 2022: The American Train Dispatchers Association ratifies the tentative agreement.

October 10, 2022: First rejection of a tentative agreement by the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (BMWED).

October 12, 2022: SMART Railroad, Mechanical, and Engineering Department ratifies the tentative agreement.

October 13, 2022: The National Conference of Firemen and Oilers ratifies the tentative agreement.

October 26, 2022: The Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS) rejects the tentative agreement, the second union to do so.

November 5, 2022: The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 19 ratifies the tentative agreement.

November 11, 2022: Third rejection of a tentative agreement by the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB).

November 21, 2022:  The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen ratifies the tentative agreement; SMART-TD fails to ratify the tentative agreement. The vote by SMART-TD puts the total number of unions rejecting the tentative agreement reached by the freight railroads, union leadership, and the Biden administration to four. 

November 22, 2022: Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS) agree to extend their existing status quo period until 12:01 a.m. on December 9, 2022. This means that the status quo periods for all unions that have not ratified agreements are now aligned.

December 9, 2022: “Status quo” period set to end at 12:01 a.m., the earliest a strike could occur.