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Norfolk Southern, maintenance-of-way workers reach deal on sick leave

Norfolk Southern has reached a sick leave agreement for members of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way – Employes Division, the railroad announced Wednesday.

The agreement, which could affect approximately 3,000 workers who are responsible for maintaining NS’ track and infrastructure, allows BMWED members up to seven paid sick days per year.

“Norfolk Southern’s success is built upon the incredible work our craft railroaders perform every day, and we are committed to improving their quality of life in partnership with our union leaders,” NS President and CEO Alan Shaw said in a release.

NS (NYSE: NSC) also said it is working with all of its unions to further enhance quality of life and work predictability for craft employees, including gathering input on issues that union members deem important and negotiating and implementing priorities that would benefit workers.

Earlier this week, Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP) reached sick leave agreements with theNational Conference of Firemen and Oilers and the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen. CSX (NASDAQ: CSX) has also reached sick leave agreements with six union groups, including BMWED.

The agreements come as U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Tuesday called for the railroads to adopt sick leave policies for all their employees. Buttigieg’s recommendation was part of a broader outline for the rail industry, DOT and Congress to respond to rail safety issues raised because of the fiery Feb. 3 derailment of an NS train in East Palestine, Ohio.

In response to NS’ announcement, BMWED media representative Clark Ballew said the agreement is “a good development in an industry that is in dire need of positive momentum” but “it’s not the end.”

“We intend on securing paid sick leave on all the Class I railroads, but NS makes two and we celebrate that victory for our membership,” Ballew told FreightWaves.

He added: “Our members are tasked with rebuilding the track of the New Palestine derailment and it is imperative that they have resources available that keep them safe and healthy at a site that many would be apprehensive to work. Paid sick time is one of those resources, but there are several others, and we expect NS to start doing right by their employees and the public and afford all resources necessary to not exacerbate an already bad situation.”

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Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Joanna Marsh.