Well, sports fans, it looks like the union strike has been punted a few more weeks as all parties have now signed off on a tentative deal. While details on the issue of days off and work schedules have not been revealed, or if they were left off the table, union members will get a pay raise of 24% over the next five years and a $11,000 lump sum immediately on ratification. But can everything be fixed by throwing money at it?
Negotiators love the deal, but the membership hates it
The union membership has publicly made it known they hate this deal. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) has voted down the contract handed out by negotiators and sent it back to the table.
But two unions so far have ratified the contract with the Aug. 16 Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) recommendations. The Transportation Communications Union/IAM and the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen, which together represent more than 11,000 rail workers, approved the deal earlier in the week.
Their deal hands them a 14.1% immediate pay raise, up to the 24% level in five years and five $1,000 bonuses yearly. The big question is if one union holds out and does not ratify “Biden’s New Deal,” will they cross the picket line when the time comes?
In the fine print of the contract, even if they do vote it down, they can not immediately go into strike mode. There’s another cool down hoop to jump through to buy more time, and push this into the next congressional term.
Biden Administration gets to punt this off to the next Congress
A lot of vulnerable Democrat-held seats are expected to flip to the Republican side, vastly changing the landscape of the next Congress. This would be really bad for union members as the party of Taft-Hartley would be back in charge when the cooling down period ends.
I think we would see quick action by a Republican-led Congress to shackle the unions to a threadbare contract, much akin to the PEB recommendations. There would most likely be no thought on the “draconian work schedules” and days off for personal reasons.
This would be a perfect setup for Dems going into the 2024 presidential elections, having an inflamed union voting bloc to rally others to the Team Blue causes. And history has shown they will sacrifice two years of a lame duck Congress to hold the executive branch at the White House.
Best case scenario is that everyone ratifies the new contract and civilization continues. Worst case is we have some unions vote down the contract, go through the strike countdown, other unions respect the picket lines, get a railroad shutdown and have Congress drop the Taft-Hartley hammer on picketers.
This is a developing story and BackTheTruckUp and FreightWaves will continue to report as more details are released.
Update: More details have been released by BLET and SMART-TD this morning. “The parties’ Health and Welfare Plan point-of-service costs will remain unchanged; there will be no increases to copays or deductibles and there are no disruptions to the existing health care networks. After over 20 hours of negotiations, we were able to reach an agreement that freezes our members’ monthly health care contributions at the end of the agreement. No additional increases will apply to our monthly contributions while the parties bargain over the next National Agreement. For the first time our Unions were able to obtain negotiated contract language exempting time off for certain medical events from carrier attendance policies.”