Rail union rejects contract as strike threatens U.S. economy before holidays

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from The Washington Post,

Attendance and sick leave policies have led to widespread anger and frustration among rank-and-file railroad workers on major freight lines

One of the largest railroad unions narrowly voted to reject a contract deal brokered by the White House, bringing the country once again closer to a rail strike that could paralyze much of the economy ahead of the holidays, union officials announced on Monday.

The union representing roughly 28,000 rail conductors, SMART Transportation Division, voted the deal down by 50.9 percent, the union said. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, which represents engineers, announced on Monday that 53.5 percent of members voted to ratify the deal. These unions represent 57,000 workers and are the largest and most politically powerful of the 12 rail unions in contract discussions.

A national rail strike, which could happen as early as Dec. 5, could threaten the nation’s coal shipments and its supply of drinking water and shut down passenger rail. The U.S. economy could lose $2 billion a day if railroad workers strike, according to the Association of American Railroads.

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