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Norfolk Southern says it has reached paid sick leave agreements with 9 of 12 rail workers unions

The progress follows contentious labor negotiations last year along with the recent train derailment in East Palestine.

ATLANTA — In the face of continuing public scrutiny, Norfolk Southern says it has recently reached agreements to provide paid sick leave to members of nine of its labor unions.

The railway announced the latest deal with the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers and Blacksmiths (IBBB) on Wednesday, giving workers four additional paid sick days per year. Similar agreements have already been reach with the following eight unions:

  • American Association of Train Dispatchers
  • Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees
  • Brotherhood of Railway Carmen
  • International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
  • International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, Transportation Workers (Mechanical Department)
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
  • National Conference of Firemen and Oilers
  • Transportation Communications Union

"We continue to make strides to improve the quality of life of our craft railroaders in partnership with our unions," Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan Shaw said in a statement. "Our railroaders help drive the American economy forward, and each of these new agreements helps ensure that they have even more time to manage their personal health and well-being."

Norfolk Southern's progress on the labor front comes months after contentious union negotiations that nearly resulted in a nationwide strike involving all major railroads in the United States. A lack of adequate sick leave was a major sticking point, and after a number of unions declined to signed onto the negotiated deal, the Biden administration successfully asked Congress to force the collective bargaining agreement through and prevent a work stoppage.

The railroad has also been in the news lately for a number of accidents involving its trains, including a toxic derailment in East Palestine as well as a grade-crossing collision that resulted in the death of a Cleveland conductor who was also president of the local Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) chapter. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has since filed a lawsuit against NS over the Columbiana County wreck, and the NTSB opened a special investigation into the company's culture and safety practices.

Notably, the BLET has not yet reached a sick leave agreement with Norfolk Southern. Neither has the American Rail System Federation, which earlier this month sent a letter to state and federal officials reporting workers falling ill at the East Palestine cleanup site.

"Norfolk Southern will continue to engage with local labor leaders to enhance the quality of life and work predictability for its dedicated craft railroaders," the railroad wrote Wednesday.

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