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CSX reaches sick leave agreements with train engineers, mechanical workers

Eastern U.S. railroad CSX has reached agreements with two unions over sick leave.

The agreements with the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way – Employes Division (BMWED) and the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen (BRC) are effective Wednesday and affect approximately 5,000 railroad workers.

BMWED represents engineering employees, while BRC represents mechanical workers, according to CSX (NASDAQ: CSX).

“CSX is committed to listening to our railroaders and working with their representatives to find solutions that improve their quality of life and experience as employees,” CSX President and CEO Joe Hinrichs said in a news release late Tuesday night. “These agreements demonstrate that commitment and are a direct result of the collaborative relationship we are working to cultivate with all of the unions that represent CSX employees. We greatly appreciate the leadership of the BMWED and BRC in working towards these agreements.”

The agreement provides four paid sick days on annual basis, as well as the ability to take three paid personal leave days per year for sick time off, according to a Wednesday news release from BMWED, which is affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Employees may contribute unused paid sick leave to their 401(k) accounts or they may receive pay for their unused sick leave each year, it said.

“I want to personally thank CSX CEO Joe Hinrichs and COO Jamie Boychuk for reaching the paid sick leave agreement with BMWED,” said Tony D. Cardwell, BMWED president, noting that CSX voluntarily offered the paid personal leave and that it was not a concession from the union.

“Joe gave me his word that he would bring about changes to the industry that are necessary to begin repairing the dysfunctional relationship between the railroads and the Workers. I applaud Joe for delivering on his word and entering into this historic agreement with BMWED. He is doing the right thing, and I look forward to working with Joe on other matters that are critical to Maintenance of Way Employees,” Cardwell said.

BRC’s description of its agreement was similar to the one between CSX and BMWED.

Both unions said the other Class I railroads should follow CSX’s example.

“We are extremely proud that BRC is one of the very first unions to reach this type of an agreement. This agreement is a significant accomplishment and provides a very important benefit for our members working at [CSX Transportation]. The other carriers should take note and come to the bargaining table in a similar manner,” BRC General President Don Grissom said in a Wednesday news release.

Said Cardwell: “There is no reason why the other Class I railroads cannot enter into an identical paid sick leave Agreement with BMWED, or any other rail union for that matter, especially in light of what CSX and the BMWED have done today. I strongly encourage the other Class I railroads to follow the tracks that CSX CEO Joe Hinrichs has laid by reaching an identical Agreement for paid sick leave with BMWED.”

The sick leave contracts with CSX follow wider agreements between the Class I railroads and 12 railroad unions last December over a new collective agreement over wages and health care benefits, among other issues. 

But sick leave became a sticking point during the multiyear negotiation process between both sides, to the point that union members considered going on strike because of unresolved grievances over what they considered as inadequate leave policies at some Class I railroads.

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