Successful Bargaining for Seven Decades
For more than seven decades, the freight railroads have conducted collective bargaining negotiations on a national, multi-employer basis with the labor organizations representing rail employees. National handling has been remarkably successful in reaching contract settlements without crippling labor strikes. In the past 35 years, there have been only six days of service disruptions due to disputes arising from national bargaining; the last one was in 1992.
Because railroads are vital to the national economy and security – accounting for 43% of intercity freight volume, more than any other mode of transportation – Congress has not been hesitant to intervene in the event of a dispute in order to ensure continuous service. However, most bargaining rounds are settled with voluntary agreements.
The most recent round of bargaining, involving almost all of the nation’s Class I railroads and 13 major unions, concluded in April 2012. More than 132,000 rail employees are covered by the agreements reached in that round.