IMPORTANT INFORMATION REGARDING STRIKE AUTHORIZATION BALLOTS
Published by the BMWED National Division on August 12, 2022 [Link goes to bmwe.org]
BMWED MEMBERS WILL SOON RECEIVE BALLOTS IN THE MAIL
As you likely are aware, the BMWED-IBT is in the final stages of National Bargaining with the Class I freight railroads, with an expected recommendation from Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) 250, due by 11:59 p.m. August 16, 2022. Once the PEB issues its recommendations, the Railway Labor Act imposes another 30-day cooling off period during which the railroads and the Unions must maintain the “status quo” and must not engage in any self-help actions (i.e., the railroads cannot lock out Railroad Workers, and cannot change rates of pay or work rules, etc., and Railroad Workers cannot engage in strikes, work slowdowns, etc.). While the Unions and the railroads cannot engage in any self-help during this 30-day cooling off period following the PEB’s recommendations, they can engage in discussions in an effort reach a voluntary Agreement. If the railroads and the Union(s) are unable to reach a voluntary Agreement during the 30-day cooling off period, they can then exercise self-help (i.e., railroads can lock out Railroad Workers, or change rates of pay or work rules, etc. and Railroad Workers can go on strike, work slowdowns, etc.) once the cooling off period ends.
The Delegates at the 2022 BMWED National Division Convention unanimously voted to reject the National Mediation Board’s proffer of Arbitration. The Delegates’ unanimous vote at the Convention granted the BMWED National Division President the authority to call a strike if a PEB was not appointed within 30-days following the rejection of the NMB’s proffer of arbitration. The PEB was established and, again, we await its recommendations. We are now faced with the question of how to proceed if the PEB’s recommendations do not lead to a voluntary agreement with the Carriers.
Therefore, to honor each Member’s fundamental right to vote on a matter so critical to their livelihoods, BMWED National Division is sending all BMWED Members involved in National Negotiations, a ballot requesting their vote to authorize the BMWED President to call a strike if the PEB’s recommendations are unacceptable or the parties are unable to reach a voluntary agreement within 30 days following the PEB’s recommendations. To be clear, it is not BMWED’s intention to get to the strike line. It is our desire to reach a fair voluntary agreement to settle this round of national negotiations, but we must be prepared in the event we cannot reach a fair voluntary agreement.
Please watch your mailbox in the coming days for the strike authorization ballot and return it to the BMWED National Division Office in the postage-paid return envelope as soon as possible. Your membership ID is not required, though if you have it (it can be found on your Union membership card) please include it on your ballot. If your railroad is in national negotiations and you do not receive a ballot, the BMWED may not have an updated mailing address for you. Please call the National Division Office at 248-662-2660 or reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the event the PEB’s recommendations are considered acceptable by the parties, or a voluntary agreement is reached between the BMWED and the railroads, the agreement will be submitted to the BMWED Membership for ratification. Further information regarding the PEB’s recommendations and any negotiations based on the recommendations will be forthcoming as that information develops. Until then, Members need to know that BMWED National Division provides strike benefits to eligible Members in the amount of $120 per day when combined with Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (RUIA) benefits. Further information regarding strike benefits can be found here.
National Division also wants BMWED Members to know that another possible outcome is that Congress may enact the PEB recommendations, or some other terms, as an agreement, if the parties cannot reach a voluntary agreement. If that happens, the legislation would be the final resolution of the dispute. Nevertheless, BMWED remains committed at this time to engaging in good-faith discussions with the railroads following the PEB’s recommendations.