Rail workers at biggest unions split on contract, strike potential unclear

Workers at the SMART-TD rail union voted down the tentative contract hashed out with company leadership — increasing the likelihood of a strike.

Workers at two of the country's biggest rail unions split over a tentative contract their leaders had hashed out with freight rail companies — leaving open the possibility of a debilitating rail strike in the middle of the holiday season.

Workers at the 24,000-member Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, which represents train engineers, voted in favor of the deal.

But the 28,000-member SMART-TD union, which represents rail conductors, was split on the contract. It was the fourth no vote by the unions that have been negotiating with the rail companies.

The no vote is a rejection of the compromise worked out in September between union leaders and the companies with the help of the White House and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh.

Since that compromise, several unions have signaled their discontent primarily over the proposed contract's lack of fully paid sick leave and other scheduling requirements.


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