As we are now well into the third year of multi-employer national bargaining with three labor union coalitions that collectively represent rail employees, the freight rail industry believes it is essential for everyone interested in or affected by the rail industry and its labor negotiations to understand our bargaining philosophy and the fundamental considerations that inform our bargaining decisions.
We are committed to utilizing the bargaining process to reach voluntary settlements and firmly believe that this process works best behind closed doors. The open and candid exchanges that are essential to productive bargaining rest on an assurance of confidentially that is incompatible with public discourse. Accordingly, while there may be open commentary on rail bargaining from time to time from various sources, our policy is to refrain from public statements or discussions regarding any substantive matters addressed by the parties in negotiations.
While not commenting on the specifics of the negotiations, it is important to understand the backdrop against which those negotiations are being conducted. The industry is experiencing transformational changes and competitive pressures that necessitate an unwavering focus on controlling all business costs, including labor expenses. It is imperative that all parties recognize the industry’s economic and competitive realities and work collaboratively to craft settlements that respond to those challenges. The railroads have advanced what we see as reasonable proposals that address the needs and goals for both sides. As the parties continue to discuss potential bargaining resolutions, we will remain committed to reaching agreements that support the long term viability of the industry while continuing to fairly and appropriately compensate our valued employees.